Christopher H Smith

House orders Pentagon to say if it weaponized ticks and released them
The order requires the agency to say if it experimented with insects for use as a biological weapon between 1950 and 1975

A Close Up Of An Adult Female Deer Tick, Dog Tick, And A Lone Star Tick on book print. The House vote to require the Pentagon inspector general to tell Congress whether the department experimented with weaponizing disease-carrying insects and whether they were released into the public realm — either accidentally or on purpose. (Getty Images)

The House quietly voted last week to require the Pentagon inspector general to tell Congress whether the department experimented with weaponizing disease-carrying insects and whether they were released into the public realm — either accidentally or on purpose.

The unusual proposal took the form of an amendment that was adopted by voice vote July 11 during House debate on the fiscal 2020 defense authorization bill, which lawmakers passed the following day.

After Democratic divisions, House passes border spending bill
White House has already said president will not sign off on House measure

Speaker Nancy Pelosi had called for a “strong bipartisan vote” on the border supplemental funding package. In the end, only three Republicans voted for the measure. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

After a day heavy with negotiations between House Democratic leaders and more progressive members, the House passed, 230-195, a $4.5 billion supplemental funding measure to address the influx of migrants and children coming to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Four Democrats voted “no” on the bill, all of them freshman women from the party’s progressive wing: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. Three Republicans voted for the measure: Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Will Hurd of Texas and Christopher H. Smith of New Jersey.

Here are the 8 Republicans who broke with their party on Obamacare lawsuit
Democrats sought to put GOP colleagues on record with symbolic vote

Freshman Minnesota GOP Rep. Pete Stauber broke with his party on a vote related to the Obamacare lawsuit. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic congressional campaigns have already made health care an early focus of their 2020 messaging, and House Democrats bolstered that effort Wednesday with a symbolic vote that sought to once again put Republicans on record on the issue.

Eight Republicans sided with Democrats on the nonbinding resolution, which the House adopted, 240-186. The measure condemned the Trump administration’s support for invalidating the 2010 health care law in its entirety. The Department of Justice, in a new filing last week, backed a Texas judge’s decision to strike down the law. 

House passes gender pay gap bill, a top Democratic priority
Most Republicans oppose measure, say there are better ways to get pay parity without lawsuits

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., has been introducing the Paycheck Fairness Act since 1997 in an effort to help close the gender pay gap. The House on Wednesday passed her bill, one of the new Democratic majority’s top priorities. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats on Wednesday passed another one of their top party priorities, a bill called the Paycheck Fairness Act that is designed to help close the gender pay gap. 

HR 7 passed, 242-187, with only seven Republican votes. Those included New Jersey’s Christopher H. Smith, an original cosponsor of the bill, Florida’s Mario Diaz-Balart, Idaho’s Mike Simpson, New York’s Tom Reed, Texas’ Will Hurd, Pennsylvania’s Brian Fitzpatrick and Illinois’ Rodney Davis. All 235 House Democrats voted for the measure. 

Road ahead: As Congress digests Mueller conclusions, it has plenty more on its plate
House will attempt to override Trump’s veto, while Senate takes up Green New Deal

A Capitol Visitor Center employee sets up a shade umbrella last Tuesday outside the CVC entrance. The Senate and House minority parties may need an umbrella to block the shade the majorities plan to throw at them this week amid votes on the Green New Deal and overriding a presidential veto. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Capitol Hill spent much of the weekend waiting to find out what special counsel Robert S. Mueller III discovered about Russian efforts to undermine the 2016 election. But as Congress digests the principal conclusions of his report, prepared by Attorney General William P. Barr, leaders will also try to get members to address other priorities.

Barr’s four-page letter sent to Congress on Sunday afternoon stated that Mueller “did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts.”

House to vote on equal pay, VAWA, net neutrality bills, in next 3 weeks
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced the upcoming votes in a “Dear Colleague” letter sent Monday

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., announced the major bills the House will consider over the next three-week work period in a dear colleague letter Monday. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House will vote over the next three weeks on bills to help reduce the gender pay gap, reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and codify the Obama-era net neutrality rule.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced the votes in a “Dear Colleague” letter Monday outlining plans for the three-week House work period beginning March 25.

Party unity on congressional votes takes a dive: CQ Vote Studies
Decline more dramatic in the Senate

Of the top six Democrats who broke from their party in 2018, four are no longer in Congress, including Heidi Heitkamp, right. Senators eyeing the presidency, meanwhile, are sticking to their party like glue. Elizabeth Warren had a perfect unity score. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After Democrats and Republicans reached record highs sticking together by party on congressional votes in 2017, those numbers nose-dived in 2018 as lawmakers worked across the aisle on high-profile legislation, including a rewrite of the Dodd-Frank financial law, a package dealing with the opioid crisis, spending bills and an overhaul of the country’s criminal justice laws.

CQ’s annual vote study shows that in the House the total number of party unity votes — defined as those with each party’s majority on opposing sides — fell from 76 percent of the total votes taken in the House in 2017, a record, to 59 percent in 2018. That latter figure is the lowest since 2010, the most recent year of unified Democratic control of Congress. Election years typically have fewer votes and 2018 was no exception — the total number of votes taken in the House, 498, was the lowest since 2002.

Meet the lawmakers who didn’t stick to their parties’ position on guns
Eight Republicans and two Democrats crossed the aisle on Wednesday

New York Rep. Peter King voted for expanded background checks and has long been the lead Republican co-sponsor of the measure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With the help of eight Republicans, the Democratically-controlled House on Wednesday passed new gun safety legislation that would expand background checks.

And while the legislation isn’t likely to go anywhere in the Senate, it was a top priority for many new Democratic members who came to power last fall by making gun safety a salient campaign issue. An overwhelming majority of Americans support universal background checks.

Republicans from moderate districts bucking their party on background checks
Five Republicans have co-sponsored gun safety legislation hitting the floor on Wednesday

Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick has signed onto legislation to expand background checks. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Wednesday’s House vote on legislation expanding background checks for gun sales is a top priority for a handful of Republicans from more moderate districts.

But while they’re largely in line with public opinion on the issue — and with the chamber’s new Democratic majority — they’re at odds with other Republicans in Congress.

Parkland shooting to be commemorated with new bill requiring background checks on gun sales
The bill would require gun sellers to conduct background checks on buyers

"There's nothing statistically that supports that," Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Ga., said to the claim by Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., that undocumented immigrants are to blame for gun violence in the U.S. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Flanked by the parents of children killed or disabled by guns, including the parents of children slain in the Parkland shooting one year ago, Rep. Jerry Nadler announced Thursday he would advance a bill to require background checks on gun sales next week.

Nadler chairs the Judiciary Committee, which has broad jurisdiction over firearm regulations. The New York Democrat announced the committee will advance the Bipartisan Background Checks Act on Wednesday, Feb. 13th. The next day, February 14th, marks the anniversary of a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which claimed 17 lives.