Mike’s Conservative Index, 2019

The time has come for an evaluation of last year in Congress.

The House

The House under San Francisco liberal Nancy Pelosi pushed through a mess of Democratic wish list items that had zero chance of surviving Senate Majority Leader Mitch “The Grim Reaper” McConnell, and conservatives should hope it stays that way so long as the Democrats have a majority in the House. The left may call this “obstruction”, but conservatives should take after the late President Coolidge in his view that it is better to stop bad bills than it is to pass good ones. Among the most notable of them are a $15 minimum wage, gun control legislation, net neutrality, an overly federal voting rights bill that aims to ban voter ID laws, and the Equality Act, which are all disastrous measures be they for employment rates and consumer prices, the strength of the Second Amendment, internet freedom, the integrity of federalism, and giving legal force to a purely subjective definition of gender. While it would not be a surprise if not all these measures would pass in their current forms under unified Democratic government, we’d best not take that risk. Some highlights of how extremely liberal the Democratic Party has become if their public statements have not made it clear enough:

  1. Only six Democrats voted against the $15 minimum wage. Until very recently a government-mandated “living wage” was a fringe idea only enacted in urban Democratic strongholds and to deleterious effect on employment and small business.
  2. No Democrats voted against the Equality Act, which legally protects the subjective definitions of male and female genders that LGBT activist organizations like GLAAD want.
  3. No Democrats voted against the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which as written could potentially invalidate state voter ID laws. Indeed, this is the hope of its primary sponsor, Terri Sewell (D-Ala.).

Also, many of the votes I counted were NOT final passage votes, as many of these fell under strictly party lines and I wanted to highlight some differences within the Republican and Democratic parties that would be missed with counting final votes.

The Squad

The Squad’s scores, particularly Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, may come off as a little high, and by that I mean double digits. While the four women like to posture as the most left-wing people in the House, they have on a few occasions taken positions that align with conservative Republican stances. For instance, three of them voted against the Export-Import Bank reauthorization and AOC opposed the December budget deals as well as the Democratic state and local tax deductions bill.

Impeachment

Legislators are marked for if they voted for or against the impeachment of President Donald Trump. While what he did was not “perfect” or right, it is insufficient for impeachment, especially for a president who stands as a bulwark against corrosive cultural leftism and the threat of socialism. We must also consider that other presidents have engaged in behaviors their critics derided as an “abuse of power”, yet stayed in office, including the previous one when he made recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board when the Senate was not in recess, as was ruled unanimously by the Supreme Court in NLRB v. Noel Canning (2014).

The Senate

The Senate is a mixed picture under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). On one hand, he has performed yeoman work for conservative judicial nominations and this, more than anything else, will serve as the legacy of his leadership. Indeed, I count five critical judicial nomination votes for 2019 to acknowledge the Senate’s efforts under his leadership. On the other hand, McConnell has accepted increases in government spending and managing to get enough Republicans behind him for this endeavor, which is most unfortunate. Thus, many Republican senators fell short on conservatism this year on questions of spending. This sort of spending is precisely what we conservatives stand against when Democratic presidents are in office, and I think it not a radical idea that we apply the same standards to Republican presidents. While some may say to wait after the election, this is unfortunately merely a nice spin on “kicking the can down the road”.

“McConnell’s Eight”

Among the senators, there are eight Republicans who voted the same way as Majority Leader McConnell: Martha McSally of Arizona, John Boozman of Arkansas, Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts of Kansas, Kevin Cramer and John Hoeven of North Dakota, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and John Thune of South Dakota. With the exception of Cramer, all scored a 74%, with Cramer getting a 73% for missing a vote. With the exception of a nomination vote, all dissents from the conservative position were on spending questions.

Standouts Among the Freshmen Senators: Braun and Hawley

Although the most talked about freshman among the Senate Republicans is Josh Hawley of Missouri for his antagonism to social media providers and their liberal bias, both he and Mike Braun of Indiana deserve special recognition for their conservatism. Hawley scores an admirable 91% for 2019 and Braun gets a 100%, one of only three senators to do so for 2019. Both senators opposed the major budget deals of the year on fiscal grounds and good on them for doing so!

Controversies Among Conservatives

Some of the inclusions among the votes will be controversial among conservatives, including counting a “nay” vote as the correct position on the defense increase portion of the December budget deal, but given the state of the deficit and national debt as well as the good health of the economy, it is more important to resist further spending than to increase military spending. Also controversial is certainly counting “nay” votes for the Bost “Buy American” Amendment and the Brindisi Amendment for buying American for stainless steel for the Department of Defense as conservative. Forcing “Buy American” provisions on the government, although popular for the image of “economic patriotism”, increases costs to the government and thus costs to the taxpayer.

“The 100 Club”: The Legislators Who Stuck With Conservatism Through Thick and Thin

House

Palmer (R-Ala.)

Gosar (R-Ariz.)

Biggs (R-Ariz.)

Schweikert (R-Ariz.)

McClintock (R-Calif.)

Buck (R-Colo.)

Hice (R-Ga.)

Emmer (R-Minn.)

Smith (R-Mo.)

Bishop (R-N.C.)

Meadows (R-N.C.)

Jordan (R-Ohio)

Davidson (R-Ohio)

Hern (R-Okla.)

Duncan (R-S.C.)

Burchett (R-Tenn.)

Gohmert (R-Tex.)

Taylor (R-Tex.)

Wright (R-Tex.)

Roy (R-Tex.)

Cloud (R-Tex.)

Cline (R-Va.)

Senate

Braun (R-Ind.)

Cruz (R-Tex.)

Lee (R-Utah)

 

House Votes for 2019

1. Federal Pay Raise

Passage of the Connolly (D-Va.) bill granting federal employees a 2.6% pay raise after the Trump Administration had halted a 2.1% cost-of-living adjustment.

Passed 259-161: D 230-0; R 29-161, 1/30/19.

Roll 64, Nay

2. Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019

Passage of the Clyburn (D-S.C.) bill expanding the period of background checks to ten days and under certain circumstances can be expanded ten more days.

Passed 228-198: D 225-7; R 3-191, 2/28/19.

Roll 103, Nay

3. “Shareholders United” Amendment

Adoption of the Raskin (D-Md.) “Shareholders United” Amendment, the meat of the For the People Act, which prevents the expenditure of corporate funds for campaign purposes unless the corporation had established a way of determining shareholder will.

Passed 219-215: D 219-17; R 0-198, 3/7/19.

Roll 109, Nay

4. Recommit Save the Internet Act

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) motion to recommit the Save the Internet Act, which would restore net neutrality, inserting a Republican substitute in its place.

Defeated 204-216: D 13-216; R 191-0, 4/10/19.

Roll 166, Yea

5. Engel Amendment, Climate Change Now Act

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) amendment to the Climate Change Now Act, requiring the president’s climate change plan to take into consideration regions, populations, industries, and constituencies effected by climate change.

Passed 259-166: D 230-0; R 29-166, 5/2/19.

Roll 182, Nay

6. Equality Act

Passage of the Cicilline (D-R.I.) bill, the principle impact being to add sexual orientation and gender identity to protected classes under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Passed 236-173: D 228-0; R 8-173, 5/17/19.

Roll 217, Nay

7. Banks Amendment, 14% Cut

Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) proposed an amendment cutting by 14% all non-defense and discretionary spending in appropriations bills, which would bring total spending below the Budget Control Act.

Defeated 132-302: D 1-236; R 131-66, 6/19/19.

Roll 365, Yea

8. Hice Amendment, 23.6% Cut

Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.) proposed an amendment cutting by 23.6% across the board spending so as to match the President’s budget request.

Defeated 128-304: D 1-233; R 127-71, 6/20/19.

Roll 388, Yea

9. Bost Amendment, “Buy American” for Infrastructure Projects

Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.) amendment, strengthening President Trump’s executive order for “Buy American” preferences in infrastructure projects.

Passed 373-51: D 227-2; R 146-49, 6/21/19.

Roll 396, Nay

10. Brindisi Amendment, Stainless Steel American Made for DoD

Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.) amendment, requiring that stainless steel flatware procured by the Department of Defense be made in the USA. This specifically benefits a constituent business, Sherrill Manufacturing, the only remaining stainless steel flatware manufacturer in the United States.

Passed 243-187: D 219-13; R 24-173; I 0-1, 7/11/19.

Roll 441, Nay

11. Torres Amendment, Munitions List Amendment

Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) amendment, overturning a Trump Administration measure transferring oversight of firearms and ammunition exports from the State Department to the less strict Department of Commerce.

Passed 225-205: D 221-11; R 4-193; I 0-1, 7/11/19.

Roll 442, Nay

12. Amash Amendment, Eliminate Indefinite Detention Under AUMF Authority

Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.) amendment, eliminating indefinite detention for any person detained under Authorization for the Use of Military Force authority.

Defeated 187-236: D 182-50; R 4-186; I 1-0, 7/12/19.

Roll 460, Nay

13. Raise the Wage Act

Passage of the Scott (D-Va.) bill raising the federal minimum wage to $15/hr by 2025.

Passed 231-199: D 228-6; R 3-192; I 0-1, 7/18/19.

Roll 496, Nay

14. Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019

Passage of the bill increasing discretionary spending limits on both defense and domestic categories and suspending the debt limit.

Passed 284-149: D 219-16; R 65-132; I 0-1, 7/25/19.

Roll 511, Nay

15. Corporate Transparency Act of 2019

Passage of the Maloney (Carolyn) (D-N.Y.) bill requiring new and small businesses and LLCs to disclose the identities of their owners to the federal government and creating a federal database of business owners. This would increase the regulatory burden for people trying to open a business.

Passed 249-173: D 224-5; R 25-167; I 0-1, 10/22/19.

Roll 577, Nay

16. Tie Ex-Im Bank Aid to Opioid Enforcement Cooperation

Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) amendment to the United States Export Finance Agency Act, prohibiting Ex-Im Bank assistance to nations unless they certify cooperation with the U.S. on opioid trafficking prevention.

Defeated 210-214: D 16-213; R 194-0; I 0-1, 11/15/19.

Roll 620, Yea

17. United States Export Finance Agency Act of 2019

Passage of the Waters (D-Calif.) bill reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank for ten years and increasing its lending authority from $135 billion to $175 billion. The Trump Administration opposed the bill.

Passed 235-184: D 222-4; R 13-179; I 0-1, 11/15/19.

Roll 624, Nay

18. Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019

Passage of the Sewell (D-Ala.) bill that would not only reverse the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder (2013) but would also expand enforcement to certain practices that are alleged to disproportionately impact minority voters, which would include voter ID laws, tighter voting registration requirements, and poll closures.

Passed 228-187: D 227-0; R 1-186; I 0-1, 12/6/19.

Roll 654, Nay

19. Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2019

Passage of the Lofgren (D-Calif.) bill that provides amnesty to illegal immigrants who have worked at least part-time in agriculture over a minimum period of two years by granting them a new “Certified Agricultural Worker” visa that would require them to work four or eight additional years in agriculture depending on whether they had worked ten years illegally before they could get a green card.

Passed 260-165: D 226-3; R 34-161; I 0-1, 12/11/19.

Roll 674, Nay

20. December Spending Deal, Domestic Increase

Passage of the first part of the year end spending deal intended to avert a shutdown. This particular measure would increase domestic spending by $632 billion and includes many tacked on provisions, including a raise in the minimum age for tobacco purchases to 21 and the permanent repeal of three healthcare taxes that were part of Obamacare. $632 billion is a hefty price tag in a year in which the deficit rose by 26% and hit a seven-year high.

Passed 297-120: D 218-7; R 79-112; I 0-1, 12/17/19.

Roll 689, Nay

21. December Spending Deal, Defense Increase

Passage of the second part of the year end spending deal intended to avert a shutdown. This particular measure would increase defense spending by $738 billion, includes funds for the space force, and permits the president to shift funds for a border wall.  Although the space force and the border wall shifting portions are fine, $738 billion is a hefty price tag in a year in which the deficit rose by 26% and hit a seven-year high.

Passed 280-138: D 150-75; R 130-62; I 0-1, 12/17/19.

Roll 690, Nay

22. Agree to Article I, Trump Impeachment

Adoption of Article I of the Trump impeachment resolution, the “abuse of power” article.

Adopted 230-197: D 229-2; R 0-195; I 1-0, 12/18/19.

Roll 695, Nay

23. Restoring Tax Fairness for States and Localities Act

Passage of the Suozzi (D-N.Y.) bill lifting the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions for two years, double the SALT deduction limit for married couples, and raising the top income tax rate from 37 to 39.6%.

Passed 218-206: D 212-16; R 6-189, I 0-1, 12/19/19.

Roll 700, Nay

Senate Votes for 2019

  1. No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion, End Debate

End debate on the Wicker (R-Miss.) bill approving a permanent ban on federal funding of abortion.

Defeated 48-47: R 46-2; D 2-43; I 0-2, 1/17/19.

Roll 7, Yea

  1. End Debate on Democratic Govt. Funding Bill, No Border Wall

Motion to end debate on the House bill to continue funding the government without provisions for a border wall.

Defeated 52-44: R 6-44; D 44-0, I 2-0, 1/24/19.

Roll 10, Nay

  1. Middle East Security Bill

Passage of the Rubio (R-Fla.) bill, a comprehensive measure that among other measures extends military aid to Israel and Jordan and permits state and local governments to divest assets from entities employing boycotts, divestments, or sanctions to influence Israel’s policies.

Passed 77-23: R 52-1; D 24-21: I 1-1, 2/5/19.

Roll 16, Yea

  1. End Debate on Abortion Survivors Protection Bill

Motion to end debate on the Sasse (R-Neb.) bill providing for penalties for failure to provide medical care to survivors of abortion.

Defeated 53-44: R 50-0; D 3-42; I 0-2, 2/25/19.

Roll 27, Yea

  1. Andrew Wheeler Nomination, Director of EPA

Confirmation of Andrew Wheeler as Director of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Confirmed 52-47: R 52-1; D 0-44; I 0-2, 2/28/19.

Roll 33, Yea

  1. Neomi J. Rao Nomination, District of Columbia Circuit Court

Confirmation of Neomi J. Rao to the District of Columbia Circuit Court. Rao had attracted controversy for her college writings on race, sexual assault, and feminism and for academic articles on Lawrence v. Texas and United States v. Windsor.

Confirmed 53-46: R 53-0; D 0-44; I 0-2, 3/13/19.

Roll 44, Yea

  1. Kimberly A. Reed Nomination, Director of Export-Import Bank

Confirmation of Kimberly A. Reed as Director of the Export-Import Bank.

Confirmed 79-17: R 36-16; D 42-0; I 1-1, 5/8/19.

Roll 100, Nay

  1. Wendy Vitter Nomination, Judicial Eastern District of Louisiana

Confirmation of Wendy Vitter, who is pro-life, to the Judicial Eastern District of Louisiana.

Passed 52-45: R 52-1; D 0-42; I 0-2, 5/16/19.

Roll 114, Yea

  1. Adopt Democratic Border Bill

Motion to adopt the House border legislation which failed to include DoD funding, failed to include costs for ICE, restored hundreds of millions in aid for El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, and included new health standards for individuals in custody.

Defeated 37-55: R 0-52; D 36-3; I 1-0, 6/26/19.

Roll 182, Nay

  1. Lee Amendment, Cap 9/11 Victims Fund at CBO Estimate

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) amendment, capping 9/11 Victims Fund at the Congressional Budget Office estimate of $10.2 billion.

Rejected 32-66: R 32-19; D 0-45; I 0-2, 7/23/19.

Roll 222, Yea

  1. Kelly Craft Nomination, Ambassador to UN

Confirmation of Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft as Ambassador to the UN. Craft has pledged to be tough on the UN’s bias against Israel.

Confirmed 56-34: R 51-0; D 5-33; I 0-1, 7/31/19.

Roll 259, Yea

  1. Bipartisan Budget Act

Passage of the bill increasing discretionary spending limits on both defense and domestic categories and suspending the debt limit.

Passed 67-28: R 29-23; D 37-5; I 1-0, 8/1/19.

Roll 262, Nay

  1. Democratic Family Leave Package

Adopt the Schatz (D-Haw.) motion to instruct lawmakers to include the Federal Employees Paid Leave Act for federal workers in the defense spending bill, granting them 12 weeks of paid time off for infant care, ill family member, or an issue of health.

Defeated 47-48: R 4-48; D 42-0; I 1-0, 9/25/19.

Roll 305, Nay

  1. Adopt Republican Family Leave Package in Lieu of Democratic Measure

Adopt the Ernst (R-Iowa) motion to instruct lawmakers to “consider potential commonsense solutions regarding family and medical leave, including voluntary compensatory time programs and incentives through the tax code”, including a measure permitting new parents to use their Social Security funds to pay for time off.

Passed 55-39: R 51-0; D 3-39; I 1-0, 9/25/19.

Roll 307, Yea

  1. Eugene Scalia Nomination, Secretary of Labor

Confirmation of Eugene Scalia, son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin J. Scalia, as Secretary of Labor.

Confirmed 53-44: R 53-0; D 0-43; I 0-1, 9/26/19.

Roll 313, Yea

  1. Repeal Trump Rules on Clean Power

Passage of the Cardin (D-Md.) Resolution, disapproving of President Trump’s Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule, which repealed the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP). The Trump rule permits states to use “candidate technologies” to establish standards for carbon dioxide emissions and other gases released from coal power plants.

Defeated 41-53: R 1-50; D 39-3; I 1-0, 10/17/19.

Roll 324, Nay

  1. 2% Cut to Continuing Appropriations

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) proposed a 2% cut to continuing appropriations.

Defeated 24-67: R 24-25; D 0-41; I 0-1, 10/28/19.

Roll 335, Yea

  1. Disapproving Presidential Rule on Obamacare Waivers

Passage of the Warner (D-Va.) Resolution, disapproving of the Trump Administration’s rule permitting states to waive certain requirements of the Affordable Care Act, the effect being for the states that they could offer subsidies to low-cost plans.

Defeated 43-52: R 1-52; D 41-0; I 1-0, 10/30/19.

Roll 337, Nay

  1. Steven J. Menashi Nomination, Second Circuit Court

Confirmation of Steven J. Menashi to the Second Circuit Court. Menashi is a supporter of Trump’s immigration policies and a member of the Federalist Society.

Confirmed 55-45: R 51-1; D 0-39; I 0-1, 11/14/19.

Roll 356, Yea

  1. Robert J. Luck Nomination, Eleventh Circuit Court

Confirmation of Florida Supreme Court Justice Robert J. Luck to the Eleventh Circuit Court. Luck is a member of the Federalist Society.

Confirmed 64-31: R 53-0; D 11-30; I 0-1, 11/19/19.

Roll 358, Yea

  1. Lawrence VanDyke Nomination, Ninth Circuit Court

Confirmation of Lawrence VanDyke to the Ninth Circuit Court. VanDyke was subjected to a full-blown political campaign against him that alleged bigotry against LGBT individuals and a rating of “not qualified” by the ABA for alleged personal character flaws and not his legal work.

Confirmed 51-44: R 51-1; D 0-42; I 0-1, 12/11/19.

Roll 391, Yea

  1. December Spending Deal, Domestic Increase

Passage of the first part of the year end spending deal intended to avert a shutdown. This particular measure would increase domestic spending by $632 billion and includes many tacked on provisions, including a raise in the minimum age for tobacco purchases to 21 and the permanent repeal of three healthcare taxes that were part of Obamacare. $632 billion is a hefty price tag in a year in which the deficit rose by 26% and hit a seven-year high.

Passed 71-23: R 31-21; D 39-2; I 1-0, 12/19/19.

Roll 415, Nay

  1. December Spending Deal, Defense Increase

Passage of the second part of the year end spending deal intended to avert a shutdown. This particular measure would increase defense spending by $738 billion, includes funds for the space force, and permits the president to shift funds for a border wall.  Although the space force and the border wall shifting portions are fine, $738 billion is a hefty price tag in a year in which the deficit rose by 26% and hit a seven-year high.

Passed 81-11: R 46-4; D 34-7; I 1-0, 12/19/19.

Roll 428, Nay

For the Breakdown of the Votes:

2019-20 Congress(1)

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