Here’s how members of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation voted on major issues last week.
WAGE DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN: Voting 242 for and 187 against, the House on Wednesday passed and sent to the Senate a bill (HR 7) that would expand federal prohibitions on paycheck discrimination based on gender while giving women additional legal tools for obtaining equal pay for substantially equal work. The bill, which exempts companies with annual revenue less than $500,000, would require employers to demonstrate that any pay disparities between men and women are a business necessity and job-related; prohibit retaliation against those who share salary data with co-workers; prohibit the use of salary histories in setting pay levels, so that sex-based pay gaps do not follow workers from job to job; allow plaintiffs to receive unlimited punitive and compensatory damages just as they can in other civil-rights litigation; and expand the categories of payroll data the Department of Labor and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission can collect from employers to determine their compliance with laws including the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, Equal Pay Act of 1963 and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A yes vote was to pass the bill.
Voting yes: Mark Pocan, D-2nd; Ron Kind, D-3rd; Gwen Moore, D-4th
Voting no: Bryan Steil, R-1st; Jim Sensenbrenner, R-5th; Glenn Grothman, R-6th; Sean Duffy, R-7th; Mike Gallagher, R-8th
CAP ON CONTINGENCY FEES: Voting 191 for and 236 against, the House on Wednesday defeated a Republican motion to HR 7 (above) that sought to limit lawyers’ contingency fees and expense reimbursements in pay discrimination lawsuits to 49 percent of the recovered sum. A contingency fee is the payment attorneys receive when their client wins a judgement; if the client loses, the attorney goes without pay. Lawyers and clients often agree on a contingency fee equal to one-third of the judgement, according to the American Bar Association website, but critics say the figure is often higher. A yes vote was to adopt the motion.
Voting yes: Steil, Sensenbrenner, Grothman, Duffy, Gallagher
Voting no: Pocan, Kind, Moore
REPUDIATION OF TRANSGENDER SERVICE BAN: Voting 238 for and 185 against, the House on Thursday adopted a non-binding measure (H Res124) repudiating President Trump’s decision to ban transgender persons from serving openly in the U.S. military. Soon to take effect, the ban would reverse an Obama administration ruling in 2016 granting the trans community its first-ever opportunity to serve openly in the Armed Forces. Trump’s policy would allow the several thousand trans individuals now in uniform to continue serving openly if they identify their sex as that which they had at birth, although the Pentagon could relax that requirement on a case-by-case basis. A yes vote was to adopt the resolution.
Voting yes: Pocan, Kind, Moore
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Voting no: Steil, Sensenbrenner, Grothman, Duffy, Gallagher
TRUMP PREVAILS IN WALL DISPUTE: The House on March 26 failed to override President Trump’s veto of a resolution (HJ Res 46) aimed at nullifying his declared national emergency on the southwest border over immigration concerns. The tally was 248 for and 181 against, with override forces falling 38 votes short of the two-thirds majority they needed to prevail. This clears the way for Trump to transfer appropriations from military accounts specified by Congress for other purposes to the construction of a border wall, an action Democrats say they will challenge in court. A yes vote was to override the veto.
Voting yes: Pocan, Kind, Moore, Sensenbrenner, Gallagher
Voting no: Steil, Grothman, Duffy
JOUSTING OVER GREEN NEW DEAL: Voting zero for and 57 against, the Senate on March 26 turned back a Democratic-sponsored measure (SJ Res 8) that would establish a “Green New Deal” for greatly expanding governmental and private-sector initiatives for dealing with climate change. All 53 Republican senators voted against the resolution along with three Democrats and one independent, while 42 Democrats and one independent answered “present,” which is a non-vote similar to absenteeism. Republicans, who arranged this vote, said it was time to take a stand on proposals that would disrupt the U.S. economy by phasing out consumption of fossil fuels over 10 years. But Democrats said it was too soon to conduct votes on legislation still in the discussion stage. A no vote was a statement against the so-called Green New Deal.
Voting no: Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh
Not voting: Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison
KEY VOTES AHEAD
The House will vote on renewing the Violence Against Women Act in the week of April 1, while the Senate will debate aid for areas struck by wildfires, flooding, hurricanes and other natural disasters.