Election 2018

A look at Congressman Conor Lamb’s voting record so far

The rookie politician’s first month looks a lot like his campaign.

U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, PA-18, is pictured.

U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, PA-18, is pictured.

MEDIA ARTS DEPARTMENT ROBERT MORRIS UNIVERSITY / FLICKR
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Congressman Conor Lamb was an unknown quantity when he won a special election in March that he wasn’t supposed to win, having run as a Democrat even Reaganites could love and refusing to fully toe the partisan line.

It was a question of how all that would translate in elected office. He had no political experience and no voting record to point to and only platform points and campaign vows to serve as reference material.

A month later, and that has changed.

In the first weeks of what is to be a very brief term representing the 18th Congressional District — portions of which belong to Allegheny, Westmoreland, Greene and Washington counties — Lamb has voted with his fellow Democrats in the House and at times with the Republican majority.

He’s voted in favor of measures to extend hate crime protections to law enforcement officers and against a Farm Bill containing controversial new work requirements for food stamp recipients.

He’s voted with Congressman Keith Rothfus, Lamb’s Republican opponent in the ongoing race for Pennsylvania’s newly drawn 17th Congressional District, and against him.

So the question is: If Lamb was billed as a political maverick, a moderate in immoderate times, does his voting record reflect that?

Here we look at the votes cast by Lamb in his first weeks in office and preview what his votes might look like as a more permanent member of the U.S. House if he’s elected to represent the 17th in November. Multiple requests for comment were not returned.

LegislationU.S. Rep. Conor Lamb - DemocratU.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus - RepublicanNumber of Democratic "yes" votes Number of Democratic "No" votes Number of Republican "yes" votesNumber of Republican "No" votesParty of lawmaker who introduced the legislation
Volcker Rule Regulatory Harmonization ActYesYes781032221Republican
Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act No Yes331582251Republican
Protect and Serve Act of 2018
YesYes1622422011Republican
Citizens' Right to Know Act of 2018NoYes21892198Republican
Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules Act of 2018NoYes41842261Republican
Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (Farm Bill) NoNo 018319830Republican
Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2018YesYes119672215Republican
The Federal Columbia River Power SystemNoYes81812178Republican

H.R. 4790 – Volcker Rule Regulatory Harmonization Act

What is it?

The Volcker Rule was passed as part of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010 under President Barack Obama and was meant to protect bank customers by preventing institutions from making certain types of speculative investments that contributed to the 2008 financial crisis.

According to the New York Times, “the Volcker Rule, named for the former chairman of the Federal Reserve […] prohibited banks from making their own risky bets with their customers’ deposits. Banks loathed the rule and Republicans vowed to undo it.”

The bill works by allowing thousands of small and midsize banks to avoid tougher oversight and, per the Washington Post, “also loosens rules aimed at protecting the biggest banks from sudden collapse.”

The Post also reported that Paul Volcker, the former Fed chairman for whom the rule is named, criticized a similar bill in the U.S. Senate, saying “plausibly small loopholes can be ‘gamed’ and exploited with unfortunate consequences.”

In the end, congressional Republicans succeeded with the help of Democrats like Lamb who was one of 78 Democrats to vote for the rollback. One hundred and fifteen Democrats cast votes against the rule change or didn’t vote at all, according to govtrack.us.

How did Lamb vote?

Lamb voted to rollback the rule and later said at a town hall that his vote was based on the burden the regulation presented for smaller banks that he said don’t engage in the type of risky trading that the big banks did before the financial crisis of 2008, TribLive reported.

Under the bill, community banks are defined as those without a controlling entity with $10 billion or more in total consolidated assets and total trading assets and trading liability that are more than 5 percent of total consolidated assets.

How did Rothfus vote?

Rothfus also voted in favor of the rollback.

Where does it stand?

The bill was passed by the House and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, according to congress.gov.

S. 2155 – Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act

What is it?

The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act is a more sweeping rollback of Dodd-Frank provisions. It aims to “ease the regulatory burden for small and midsize banks,” the same banks that argue the tougher regulations spurred by the 2008 financial crisis have unfairly made it more difficult for them to operate and compete. This includes community banks whose customers include small businesses, which critics of Dodd-Frank argue have been hurt by curtailed lending to small companies following the passage of Dodd-Frank in 2010.

Critics of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, meanwhile, argue that it could embolden some of the financial sector’s worst tendencies, the same that contributed to or caused the financial collapse of 2008.

How did Lamb vote?

Lamb voted against the measure, joining the vast majority of Democrats.

In a press release, Lamb said of the bill: “With common-sense regulations in place to protect the money that consumers deposit, people can have more confidence that their bank will better protect their investments. Banks today are experiencing record-setting profits and it’s only fair that we continue to protect the interests of the taxpayers and avoid another bailout.”

WESA described this as Lamb “straddling the partisan divide with two votes on bank rules.”

How did Rothfus vote?

Rothfus voted for the measure, joining almost all of his fellow Republicans.

In a statement, Rothfus said: “Since the end of the financial crisis, we have seen an average of one community bank or credit union disappear every day. This has meant that consumers have faced higher costs and reduced access to vital financial products. By fixing misguided rules from Washington, this bill will help consumers and small businesses access the financial services they need to live their version of the American Dream.”

Where does it stand?

President Trump signed the bill into law Thursday.

H.R. 5698 – Protect and Serve Act of 2018

What is it?

The Protect and Serve Act of 2018 is modeled after a federal hate crime statute and would make it a crime to intentionally target a law enforcement officer based on his “actual or perceived status” as one, CNN reports.

Supporters say the bill sends a clear signal that violence against law enforcement officers will not be tolerated.

Critics say the language of the bill is too broad and effectively designates any violence against officers a federal hate crime. They also argue that it perpetuates a false narrative of a “war on police” and that police already have substantial protections under state and federal law and do not qualify as a historically persecuted group.

How did Lamb vote?

Lamb, whose background as a federal prosecutor and Marine Corps JAG officer were regular features of his campaign, voted in favor of the bill. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

He was one of 162 Democrats to vote in favor of the bill, while 24 voted against it and seven didn’t vote, according to govtrack.us.

How did Rothfus vote?

Rothfus also voted in favor of the measure. There were 220 Republicans who cast yes votes for the legislation, 11 who did not, and three who didn’t vote at all. All of the bill’s sponsors were Republicans.

Where does it stand?

The bill passed the House and has been referred to the Senate’s Committee on the Judiciary.

H.R. 2152 – Citizens’ Right to Know Act of 2018

What is it?

This bill requires a state or local government that receives funds under a Department of Justice (DOJ) grant program and uses such funds for a pretrial services program to annually report to DOJ the amount of money allocated for the pretrial services program and certain information about participating defendants. DOJ must publish the information. Additionally, DOJ must reduce the grant allocation of a state or local government that fails to comply.

Supporters argue the bill would provide greater transparency in how federal funds are used by local governments.

Critics, including the ACLU, NAACP and Human Rights Watch, say the bill presents “serious privacy concerns” and also “undermines efforts to eliminate or reduce jurisdictions’ reliance on money bail systems.”

How did Lamb vote?

Lamb voted against the measure, joining a majority of Democrats.

How did Rothfus vote?

Rothfus voted yes, along with all but 8 Republican voters in the House.

What happened?

The bill passed the House and has been referred to the Senate’s Committee on the Judiciary.

H.R. 5645 – Standard Merger and Acquisition Reviews Through Equal Rules Act of 2018

What is it?

According to Law 360: The SMARTER Act would eliminate differences between the DOJ and FTC’s approaches to merger challenges by requiring the FTC to litigate contested merger challenges in federal court, rather than through its administrative review process. Proponents of the SMARTER Act argue that it provides greater certainty for companies by reconciling the disparate processes used by the FTC and DOJ. Opponents view the proposal as an attack on the FTC’s ability to properly carry out its duties, unnecessarily weakening the FTC by removing this enforcement tool from its powers.

How did Lamb vote?

Lamb voted against the measure, joining all but four Democrats.

How did Rothfus vote?

Rothfus voted in favor of the measure in what amounted to a party-line vote.

Where does it stand?

H.R. 5645 passed the House and was referred to the Senate’s Committee on the Judiciary.

H.R. 2: Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (Farm Bill)

What is it?

The Farm Bill is a multi-year spending bill covering an array of agricultural and food programs — everything from farm commodity price and income supports, agricultural conservation, farm credit, trade, research, rural development, bioenergy, foreign food aid, and domestic nutrition assistance, the Congressional Research Service reports.

This year’s proposal was controversial for its proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the proposed addition of work requirements for SNAP recipients.

How did Lamb vote?

Lamb voted against the measure with all 183 Democrats who cast votes May 18.

How did Rothfus vote?

Rothfus also voted no, joining only 30 Republican lawmakers who opposed the measure.

“While this bill began necessary reforms to agriculture and nutrition programs, in an era of a nearly $21 trillion national debt, more reforms are needed,” Rothfus said in a statement.

“Congress needs to be very careful in how it spends hard-earned taxpayer dollars. This bill was a missed opportunity for serious reforms of agricultural subsidy programs.”

Of the 30 Republicans to vote no on the Farm Bill proposal, NPR reports many are members of the House Freedom Caucus and that they voted no after failing to get concessions on spending and a future vote on immigration in exchange for their support. Rothfus was a member of the House Freedom Caucus until resigning in 2016.

Where does the bill stand?

The bill failed in the House in a 198-213 and has yet to be scheduled for further proceedings.

H.R. 3053 – Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2018

What is it?

H.R. 3053 is a bill to authorize the Department of Energy to resume a plan — halted under the Obama administration — to build the Yucca Mountain facility to store radioactive nuclear waste.

Supporters of H.R. 3053 say waste is piling up at power plants nationwide because Yucca Mountain is unavailable.

Critics point to safety concerns and “government bullying” in explaining their opposition.

How did Lamb vote?

Lamb voted for the bill to restart the program, joining 221 Republicans and 119 members of his own party.

How did Rothfus vote?

Rothfus also voted in favor of the bill.

Where does it stand?

Referred to Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

H.R. 3144 – To provide for operations of the Federal Columbia River Power System pursuant to a certain operation plan for a specified period of time, and for other purposes

What is it?

The bill, sponsored by U.S. Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, would reverse a federal judge’s order calling for more springtime spill over on dams along the Columbia and Snake Rivers in the Northwest to protect endangered salmon. The bill would lock in place management plans that the judge found violated federal environmental laws, according to High Country News.

How did Lamb vote?

Lamb voted against it along with 181 out of a total 189 voting Democrats.

How did Rothfus vote?

Rothfus voted for the measure, joining all but 8 Republican voters in the House.

Where does it stand?

The bill passed the House and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.