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U.S. House

Top Finance & Consumer Votes 2019-2020 (cont'd)

4. Expanding Worker Retirement Plans
(Votes Lookup at Roll Call #231)
Voting 417-3, the House on May 23, 2019, passed a bill (HR 1994) that would expand tax-favored retirement plans and benefits. The bill would remove annual contribution limits from Individual Retirement Accounts; raise from 70 1/2 to 72 the age at which individuals must start receiving annual distributions and require employers to include long-tenured part-time employees in company plans. In addition, the bill would qualify home-healthcare workers to participate in 401(k)-style plans; allow penalty-free early distributions from qualified plans to cover birth and adoption expenses; and provide tax credits to encourage employers to automatically enroll workers in 401(k) plans, as opposed to the current system in which workers are given the opportunity to sign up. A yes vote was to pass the bill..

5. Raising Federal Minimum Wage to $15 Per Hour
(Votes Lookup at Roll Call #496)
Voting 231-199, the House on July 18, 2019, passed a bill (HR 582) that would gradually increase the federal minimum wage from its present level of $7.25 per hour to $15 per hour in 2025. The $15 figure would then be indexed to increases in the median hourly wage as measured by the Department of Labor. In addition, the bill would phase out separate minimum wages for disabled and tipped employees and new hires younger than 20 so that these individuals eventually receive the same base wage as the rest of the private-sector workforce. A yes vote was to pass the bill..

6. Exempting Small Firms from $15 Minimum Wage
(Votes Lookup at Roll Call #495)
Voting 210-218, the House on July 18, 2019, defeated a Republican motion that sought to exempt establishments with fewer than 10 employees or annual sales under $1 million from the minimum-wage requirements of HR 582 (above). A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.

7. Shoring Up Multiemployer Pensions
(Votes Lookup at Roll Call #505)
Voting 264-169, the House on July 24, 2019, passed a bill (HR 397) that would establish a Treasury Department lending unit to aid up to 160 financially troubled multiemployer pension plans covering one million-plus union workers. The new Pension Rehabilitation Administration would make 30-year loans at low interest to help those plans keep their promises to retirees. In multiemployer plans, companies fund pension plans covering multiple union locals. The employers pool risk and achieve economies of scale for holding down administrative and medical costs. But the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., the federal agency that insures private-sector retirement benefits, says it lacks resources to adequately backstop failing multi-employer plans. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the program would cost taxpayers $48.5 billion in its first 10 years. A yes vote was to pass the bill.

8. Scaling Back Mandatory Arbitration
(Votes Lookup at Roll Call #540)
Voting 225-186, the House on Sept. 20, 2019, passed a bill (HR 1423) that would render mandatory-arbitration clauses unenforceable in federal employment, consumer, antitrust and civil rights disputes. The measure would effectively eliminate from employee-employer agreements, as well as from purchase and rental contracts between customers and corporations, the increasingly common requirement that aggrieved parties pursue relief through closed mediation rather than openly in court. They could still choose to submit disputes to binding arbitration. This bill could influence the treatment of mandatory arbitration in state courts.

Many employers and companies require mandatory arbitration as a condition of employment or doing business. Employees and customers must agree in advance to relinquish their right to sue and, instead, to allow a mediator typically chosen by the company to settle the dispute. Mandatory arbitration usually limits discovery, precludes appeals, disregards rules of civil procedure and applies permanent secrecy to the proceedings and often to the outcome. Under federal law, arbitration clauses can be used to prohibit customers from filing class-action lawsuits. Supporters say forced arbitration is faster and less expensive than litigation. Critics say the process denies the bedrock rights of due process and trial by jury, while enabling employers and corporations to avoid public accountability for wrongdoing.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

9. Opening Banking System to Marijuana Firms
(Votes Lookup at Roll Call #544)
Voting 321-103, the House on Sept. 25, 2019, passed a bill (HR 1595) that would permit cannabis-related businesses to use federally regulated banks and credit unions in states where marijuana usage has been legalized. Marijuana, a product of cannabis, is a prohibited substance under federal law but allowed for recreational or medicinal use by a majority of the states, the District of Columbia and four U.S. territories. Cannabis-related firms usually are forced to deal in cash because the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the National Credit Union Administration prohibit financial institutions from accepting their deposits. A yes vote was to pass the bill.

10. Keeping Score on U.S. Jobs Sent Abroad
(Votes Lookup at Roll Call #567)
Voting 226-184, the House on Oct. 18, 2019, passed a bill (HR 3624) that would require publicly traded companies to annually report to the Securities and Exchange Commission the number of people they employ in each foreign country, each U.S. territory and each of the 50 states. The breakdowns would enable investors and consumers to weigh the extent to which American corporations are exporting jobs and relocating employees within the United States. This would enable the public to determine the extent to which domestic layoffs are attributable to outsourcing. A yes vote was to pass the bill.

11. Unmasking Owners of Shell Corporations
(Votes Lookup at Roll Call #577)
Voting 249-173, the House Oct. 22, 2019, on passed a bill (HR 2513) that would require small corporations and limited liability companies to identify their true owners when they are formed and in annual filings with the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which combats domestic and global criminal activity including the laundering of terrorism and drug funds. Because anonymously financed shell corporations tend to be small operations, the bill is directed mainly at U.S.-based companies with fewer than 20 fulltime employees and annual sales or gross receipts under $5 million. Companies would have to identify their "beneficial owners" -- those who ultimately control the firm even though ownership is listed in another name. The bill exempts banks, credit unions, registered broker-dealers, insurance companies, non-profits and certain publicly traded companies. A yes vote was to pass the bill.

12. Extending Export-Import Bank for 10 Years
(Votes Lookup at Roll Call #624)
Voting 235-184, the House on Nov. 15, 2019, passed a bill (HR 4863) that would reauthorize the Export-Import Bank's congressional charter through fiscal 2029 while renaming it the United States Export Financing Agency. The bill would increase the bank's lending authority from $135 billion to $175 billion and require at least 5 percent of its annual financing to support sales of renewable-energy and energy-efficiency products. Established in the New Deal, the bank provides taxpayer-backed financing to help foreign customers purchase U.S. goods and services when private-sector lenders are unable or unwilling to provide the financial assistance. Fewer than 2 percent of Ex-Im transactions have defaulted in recent years, and the bank usually returns a profit to the Treasury even with an exposure of $100 billion-plus in taxpayer liability. But critics say the agency distorts free markets by practicing "corporate welfare" and "crony capitalism." A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Copyright 2020, Thomas Voting Reports, Inc.