By: Wisconsin State Journal

Here’s how members of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation voted on major issues last week.


EXPANSION OF GUN BACKGROUND CHECKS: Voting 240 for and 190 against, the House on Wednesday passed a bill (HR 8) that would expand federal background checks of prospective gun buyers by extending the requirement to transactions on the internet and between private parties at venues including gun shows and parking lots. Now, only licensed dealers must run buyers’ personal information through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The NICS was established in 1993 by the so-called Brady bill, which outlaws the sale of firearms to convicted felons, drug addicts, abusive partners, fugitives, persons with serious mental illness and undocumented immigrants. This bill would exempt sales between family members and would waive background checks for transfers for hunting and when a purchaser faces imminent threat of great bodily harm. A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

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

ATTEMPTED PURCHASES BY UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS: Voting 220 for and 209 against, the House on Wednesday adopted a Republican motion to HR 8 (above) under which undocumented immigrants must be reported to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) when the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) detects they are attempting to buy a firearm. A yes vote was to add the GOP-sponsored provision to the bill.

Voting yes: Steil, Sensenbrenner, Grothman, Duffy, Gallagher

Voting no: Pocan, Kind, Moore

MORE TIME FOR BACKGROUND CHECKS: Voting 228 for and 198 against, the House on Thursday passed a bill (HR 1112) that would increase from three business days to 20 business days the maximum time for deferring firearms sales when FBI background checks on buyers have not yet been completed. The bill would apply to the estimated 10 percent of prospective sales not promptly cleared or denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). If the check remains open after 10 business days, purchasers could file a petition asserting their eligibility to acquire a firearm. If the matter remains unresolved for another 10 business days — bringing the total deferral to 20 business days — the sale would automatically take effect. A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

Voting yes: Pocan, Moore

Voting no: Steil, Kind, Sensenbrenner, Grothman, Duffy, Gallagher

EXEMPTION FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS: Voting 194 for and 232 against, the House on Thursday defeated a Republican motion that would exempt victims of domestic violence from the delays that HR 1112 (above) would impose on unfinished background checks. The measure would allow these individuals to acquire a firearm after three business days even when the FBI has not yet approved or denied the prospective sale. A yes vote was to adopt the motion.

Voting yes: Steil, Sensenbrenner, Grothman, Duffy, Gallagher

Voting no: Pocan, Kind, Moore

NULLIFYING EMERGENCY CALL ON BORDER: Voting 245 for and 182 against, the House on Tuesday approved a measure (HJ Res 46) that would nullify a national emergency declared by President Trump in an effort to secure border-wall funding. Trump invoked the emergency after Congress denied his request for at least $5.7 billion in fiscal 2019 for wall construction on the U.S.-Mexico border. He asserted authority under the 1976 National Emergencies Act to reallocate military appropriations to the project, while critics said there is no border emergency. A yes vote was to send the measure to the Senate for a vote to occur within 18 days.

Voting yes: Pocan, Kind, Moore, Sensenbrenner, Gallagher

Voting no: Steil, Grothman, Duffy


INFANTS BORN IN FAILED ABORTIONS: Voting 53 for and 44 against, the Senate on Monday failed to reach 60 votes needed to end a Democratic-led filibuster against a bill (S 311) that would prescribe rules of care for infants who survive failed late-term abortions. Health care providers including doctors could face up to five years in prison if they failed to immediately ensure the hospitalization of an infant showing signs of life after an abortion attempt. The infant would have to receive the same level of care provided to “any other child born alive at the same gestational age.” The bill also would require medical practitioners or employees of hospitals, clinics or physician’s offices to report to law enforcement agencies any violation they witnessed. A yes vote was to advance the bill.

Voting yes: Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh

Voting no: Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison

ANDREW WHEELER, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: Voting 52 for and 47 against, the Senate on Feb. 28 confirmed Andrew R. Wheeler as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Wheeler had served as acting administrator after replacing EPA head Scott Pruitt last July. He joined the EPA three months earlier from a law firm that represents Murray Energy Corp., the country’s largest owner of underground coal mines. He worked previously at the EPA under President George H.W. Bush and was a staff aide to Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla. A yes vote was to confirm the nominee.

Voting yes: Johnson

Voting no: Baldwin


The Senate will vote on judicial nominations in the week of March 4, while the House’s legislative schedule was to be announced.

— Thomas Voting Reports