How Colorado’s congressional delegation voted this week

 

H.R. 1865: Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017

This was a vote to pass H.R. 1865 in the House.

This bill would make it easier for prosecutors and victims to sue websites that knowingly promote sex trafficking. It carves out an exception to the immunity of Internet companies granted under current federal law.

Initially, Internet companies opposed the law, saying it could make them liable for the misdeeds of people they cannot control. Websites like Facebook, Reddit and Craigslist accept content from people who post anything they want, some of which can be obscene.

So far, the website operators have avoided liability under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The Internet companies say the immunity the law gives them has allowed their companies to thrive without the burden of expensive litigation. They also say the law protects free speech.

However, some members of Congress argued Section 230 also protects websites like Backpage.com, which is known for promoting sex trafficking and prostitution.

The first version of H.R. 1865 could have penalized websites for content they simply allowed to be posted, even if they did not endorse it. After the bill was rewritten to allow lawsuits only against websites that knowingly promote sex trafficking, some Internet companies changed their positions to endorse the legislation. Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg was one of the Internet company executives who supported the rewritten bill.

All members of Colorado’s House delegation voted for H.R. 1865. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, said in a statement, “If we are ever to completely stop this modern day slave trade and provide justice for those who have been abused, we must first close the existing loopholes that are allowing individuals who assist and perpetrate these illegal crimes online to go unpunished.”

He said more than 1,000 cases of human trafficking were reported in Colorado in 2016.

Passed. How they voted:

H.R. 4296: To place requirements on operational risk capital requirements for banking organizations established by an appropriate federal banking agency

This was a vote to pass H.R. 4296 in the House.

This bill would revise the federal formula for ensuring that large banks are financially secure. It continues a move in Congress dating from the last recession to avoid bank failures that could ripple through the economy, resulting in widespread losses of jobs and homes.

H.R. 4296 directs federal banking regulators to change how they calculate the minimum amount of capital large banks must hold as a backstop for their loans and investments.

The formula estimates banks’ operating risk, or risk of losses from inadequate or failed internal controls, fraud, errors and cyberattacks. The banks’ minimum capital holdings are supposed to cover all of those potential losses.

Treasury Department agencies typically consider banks’ historical record for handling money and losses to determine their minimum required capital. H.R. 4296 would shift the formula to consider each bank’s current activities and potential future losses.

A controversy was how the added monitoring of banks the legislation requires would be funded. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill would increase the federal deficit by $22 million between 2018 and 2027.

The bill was introduced last year by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Missouri, who argued the added cost would be worth the security it brings to the economy. Republicans strongly supported the bill while many Democrats opposed it.

Passed. How they voted:

H.R. 1222: Congenital Heart Futures Reauthorization Act of 2017

This was a vote to pass H.R. 1222 in the House.

This bill reauthorizes the Congenital Heart Futures Act that was enacted in 2010. It provides more resources to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to track congenital heart disease. It also gave the National Institutes of Health grants for additional research into congenital heart disease across patients’ lifetimes.

H.R. 1222 continues and expands efforts from the original legislation.

It would allow the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control to update their research and studies. The updates are supposed to lead to new health care treatments that can be targeted to patients whose congenital heart problems otherwise might be overlooked until it is too late to help them.

Another part of the bill would fund an awareness campaign for persons with congenital heart disease. Many of the afflicted persons do not realize they could be helped early in their lives in a way that allows them to live normally, the sponsors said. The awareness campaign would promote the need for specialized care from early childhood through late adulthood.

The congressmen who wrote the reauthorization say persons with congenital heart disease typically spend 10 times to 20 times more on health care than the general population.

About 40,000 babies are born each year with congenital heart disease. Pediatric hospitalizations for them cost more than $5.6 billion each year, or 15 percent of all hospital expenses for patients up to 20 years old, according to congressional reports.

A co-author of H.R. 1222 was Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., a member of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on health.

“Even for those who receive successful intervention, we know it is not a cure,” Bilirakis said in a recent editorial. “Children and adults born with [congenital heart disease] require ongoing, costly, specialized cardiac care and they face a lifelong risk of permanent disability and premature death.”

Passed. How they voted:

H.R. 2422: Action for Dental Health Act of 2017

This was a vote to pass H.R. 2422 in the House.

This bill is intended to extend routine dental care to underserved populations. It is supposed to help them avoid catastrophic health problems from poor dental health, which could include hospital emergency room visits they cannot afford.

It amends the Public Health Service Act to reauthorize dental health care and disease prevention programs through fiscal 2022.

The legislation would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to award grants and contracts with five goals: (1) improve oral health education and dental disease prevention; (2) reduce geographic, language and cultural barriers to dental care; (3) establish dental homes for children and adults; (4) reduce the need for hospital visits that could be avoided through dental primary care; (5) provide more dental care to nursing home residents.

The bill was developed with significant input from the American Dental Association.

Passed. How they voted:

 

Sources: GovTrack, press releases and congressional and media reports

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