2017-2020 Congressional Key Votes Guide
Republicans controlled the House of Representatives 2017-2018, and Democrats 2019-2020. Key legislation that each party passed shows the differences in their priorities and stands. We’ve listed representative bills passed on party-line votes — or near-party-line votes — with just a few crossovers from the other party. See guides.vote for more nonpartisan guides, including for presidential and Senate races and the Supreme Court.
AFFORDABLE CARE ACT/HEALTH CARE
Democrats – Keep Obamacare. Democrats opposed attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. Instead have supported building on and expanding it. Some support further expansions of health coverage like a public option or Medicare for All.
Republicans – Repeal and replace Obamacare. Republicans passed 2017 bill to repeal or cut key parts of Obamacare, cut Medicaid, and cut $900 billion in taxes on higher-income taxpayers and insurers. Senate version narrowly failed. Trump 2017 tax bill ended Obamacare’s individual mandate that required all Americans to get basic health insurance for themselves and their dependents.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE/VOTING RULES
Democrats – Tighten campaign finance rules, ease voting rules. Passed 2019 bill expanding automatic and same-day voter registration along with campaign finance and voting rules reforms. Senate hasn’t considered. (See CEEP guide to the bill.)
Republicans – Oppose campaign finance regulation and support tighter voting rules. Republicans largely oppose tightening campaign finance rules as intrusions on free speech. Say stricter voter registration and voting rules are needed for election security.
Democrats – Increase supplemental COVID relief. Bipartisan $2 trillion CARES Act gave relief to individuals and businesses. Passed after negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. House then passed $3 trillion bill that assisted state and local governments, gave hazard pay to frontline health care workers, offered student-debt forgiveness and bolstered Medicaid and Medicare. More recently, proposed smaller $2.2 trillion version.
Republicans – Limit additional COVID relief. Republicans and Democrats joined in passing House and Senate CARES Act. Republicans have rejected follow-up House bills and backed a smaller $500 billion bill with $300 instead of $600 weekly enhanced unemployment benefits, and no funding for state and local governments.
Democrats – Tighten financial regulation. Sought to restore Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) provisions and rules cut or scaled back by Trump administration. Senate hasn’t considered.
Republicans – Pass major Trump tax cuts. Passed $1.5 trillion Trump administration tax cut, cutting corporate and top bracket tax rates and increasing standard deduction. Passed by Senate, signed into law. Loosen financial regulation. Rolled back parts of Dodd-Frank Act, a 2010 law that tightened regulations for banks and other financial institutions. Said the law harmed smaller banks. Passed by Senate, signed into law. Loosen rules on interest rates from auto lenders. Ended Obama-era rule making auto lenders ensure that minorities were not charged higher rates. Passed by Senate, signed into law.
Democrats – Support Paris Climate Agreement. House voted to require U.S. to stay in the Paris Agreement beyond 2020 and fulfill its obligations. Senate hasn’t considered. Oppose offshore drilling. 2019 bills banned offshore drilling on Atlantic and Pacific coasts and coastline of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Senate hasn’t considered.
Republicans – Support Alaska oil and gas drilling. Established an oil and gas leasing program in ANWR, opening the refuge to oil and gas drilling. Passed by Senate in 2017 and signed into law. Repeal stream pollution limits on coal mining companies. Repealed rule that made mines monitor water quality in nearby streams and restore them once mining is complete, calling it overly costly regulation. Passed by Senate and signed into law.
Democrats – Expand background checks for guns. Voted to establish new background check requirements for firearm transfers between private parties, and extended the background check period on firearm sales from licensed gun dealers. Senate hasn’t considered.
Republicans – Ease rules on interstate concealed gun carry. Let people who have permits for concealed gun carry in one state carry concealed guns in other states where it’s legal. Did not advance in Senate.
Democrats – Give DACA participants path to citizenship. Voted to establish path to permanent legal U.S. residency and potential citizenship for “DREAMers,” whom Obama’s DACA program protected after they were brought to U.S. as children by parents who weren’t legal immigrants. Senate hasn’t considered.
Republicans – Tighten immigration laws in exchange for legalizing DACA status. Sharply reduced legal immigration, penalized sanctuary cities, mandated worker verification and allotted $23.4 billion to border wall. In exchange, gave DACA recipients renewable legal status, and eliminated separation of families at the border. Supported by Republican leadership but failed to pass when 41 Republicans joined all Democrats in opposition.
IRAN AND SAUDI ARABIA
Democrats – Require congressional approval for military action against Iran. 2020 war powers bill required congressional approval for military attacks on Iran except in emergency situations. Earlier 2019 bill ended U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia war in Yemen. Both passed House and Senate, President Trump vetoed and senators failed to override.
Republicans – Mostly oppose requiring congressional approval for military action against Iran. All but six House Republicans opposed war powers bill, and eight Senate Republicans voted for it. Mostly oppose ending military support for Saudi Arabia. All but 16 House Republicans and seven Senate Republicans opposed resolution. Failed to override presidential veto.
Democrats – Ban discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity. Passed “Equality Act.” Senate hasn’t considered.
Republicans – Oppose “Equality Act” as incursion on religious rights. All but eight House Republicans opposed it.
Democrats – Oppose abortion bans. All but three voted against Republican bills imposing strong additional restrictions on abortion.
Republicans – Outlaw abortion. Outlaw abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy. Failed to reach 60-vote threshold in Senate. Ban abortion coverage in private insurance plans that participate in Obamacare — and permanently ban any federal funding of abortion. Bill passed House but didn’t get Senate majority.
Democrats – Raise minimum wage. Raise federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 per hour by 2025. Senate hasn’t considered. Prohibit wage discrimination on basis of sex. Bill made it easier to sue for wage discrimination and required Department of Labor to conduct studies to eliminate pay disparities. Senate hasn’t considered.
Republicans – Oppose minimum wage increase. All but three House Republicans voted against minimum wage increase as bad for the economy. Oppose wage discrimination bill as regulatory overreach, with all but seven House Republicans voting against it.
Democrats – Oppose defunding of Planned Parenthood. Only two Democrats supported bill to let states withhold federal funding for non-abortion health services.
Republicans – Defund Planned Parenthood. Let states withhold federal family planning funds from organizations that perform abortions, overturning Obama-era rule and defunding Planned Parenthood. Passed Senate, signed into law.
Democrats – Restrict police use of force and increase public oversight. Bill held officers liable in lawsuits, banned no-knock warrants and stopped military surplus acquisitions. Senate hasn’t considered. Add protections for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. New protections added to Violence Against Women Act promoted housing stability and economic security for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. Senate hasn’t considered.
Republicans – Oppose Democratic police oversight bill. All but three House Republicans opposed Democratic police oversight bill. Split on Violence Against Women Act. Republicans sponsored a bipartisan bill to fund suicide prevention and mental health support services for law enforcement officers. Passed both House and Senate without recorded roll call.
Campus Election Engagement Project is a nonpartisan effort to help colleges engage students in elections. Sources include Votesmart.org, FactCheck.org, Politifact.com and candidate statements. Vote411.org and Ballotready.org offer guides to local races.