skip to main content

H.R. 7093: Clean Up the Code Act of 2018

Dec 20, 2018 at 2:08 p.m. ET. On Motion to Suspend the Rules and Pass in the House.

This was a vote to pass H.R. 7093 (115th) in the House. This vote was taken under a House procedure called “suspension of the rules” which is typically used to pass non-controversial bills. Votes under suspension require a 2/3rds majority. A failed vote under suspension can be taken again.

Should you be able to drive your water hyacinth plant to another state without being labeled a criminal under the law?

Context

There are literally so many crimes punishable in U.S. federal law that experts don’t even agree on how many there are.

But do all of those crimes still need to be illegal? What about ones that have never been prosecuted in decades, or are for actions so minor that they arguably shouldn’t be illegal?

What the bill does

The Clean Up the Code Act [H.R. 7093] would repeal laws including:

  • Prohibited transportation of most dentures across state lines, a law passed in 1948.
  • Prohibited transportation of water hyacinth plants across state lines, a law passed in 1956.
  • Unauthorized use of the Smokey Bear character or name, of “Only YOU can prevent wildfires” fame, a law passed in 1952.
  • Unauthorized use of the 4-H club logo, with a green four-leaf clover and a white or gold letter ‘H,’ a law passed in 1948.
  • Unauthorized use of the Woodsy Owl character or name, with the motto “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute!” — a law passed in 1974.

The bill was introduced in the House on October 26 by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH1).

What supporters say

Supporters argue the legislation gets rid of laws that arguably never should have been laws in the first place, nonpartisan examples of bureaucracy infringing on even the most minor actions.

“While we need to make sure that there are appropriate punishments for illegal activity, people should not be criminally prosecuted for honest mistakes or benign behavior,” Rep. Chabot said in a press release.

“Over the last few decades, there has been a significant expansion of the federal criminal code, and that has led to the criminalization of some activities that simply should not be crimes, such as unauthorized use of an emblem or slogan or the transportation of dentures,” Chabot continued. “Our legislation will help to simplify and streamline the federal criminal code by eliminating several unnecessary and trivial criminal penalties.”

“There is a reason that the Federal criminal code contains nearly 5,000 criminal statutes today,” House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA1) said in a statement. “It is because, over the years, when Congress has been faced with a problem, it has all too often enacted a Federal statute creating a new crime. These ‘crimes du jour’ may be outdated, ill-drafted, or, frankly, ridiculous. However, they still exist in the criminal code.”

GovTrack Insider was unable to locate any explicit statements of opposition to the bill.

Odds of passage

The bill has attracted two bipartisan House cosponsors, one Republican and one Democrat. It awaits a potential vote in the House Judiciary Committee.

previous version of the legislation from 2015 was approved by committee, after first attracting six bipartisan House cosponsors: four Republicans and two Democrats.

Totals

All Votes R D
Yea 99%
 
 
386
215
 
171
 
Nay 1%
 
 
5
0
 
5
 
Not Voting
 
 
41
20
 
21
 

Passed. 2/3 Required. Source: house.gov.

Ideology Vote Chart

Key:
Republican - Yea Democrat - Yea Democrat - Nay
Seat position based on our ideology score.

Cartogram Map

Each hexagon represents one congressional district. Solid hexes are Yea votes.

What you can do

Vote Details

Notes: The Speaker’s Vote? “Aye” or “Yea”?
Download as CSV

Statistically Notable Votes

Statistically notable votes are the votes that are most surprising, or least predictable, given how other members of each voter’s party voted and other factors.

All Votes

Study Guide

How well do you understand this vote? Use this study guide to find out.

You can find answers to most of the questions below here on the vote page. For a guide to understanding the bill this vote was about, see here.

What was the procedure for this vote?

  1. What was this vote on?
  2. Not all votes are meant to pass legislation. In the Senate some votes are not about legislation at all, since the Senate must vote to confirm presidential nominations to certain federal positions.

    This vote is related to a bill. However, that doesn’t necessarily tell you what it is about. Congress makes many decisions in the process of passing legislation, such as on the procedures for debating the bill, whether to change the bill before voting on passage, and even whether to vote on passage at all.

    You can learn more about the various motions used in Congress at EveryCRSReport.com. If you aren’t sure what the House was voting on, try seeing if it’s on this list.

  3. What is the next step after this vote?
  4. Take a look at where this bill is in the legislative process. What might come next? Keep in mind what this specific vote was on, and the context of the bill. Will there be amendments? Will the other chamber of Congress vote on it, or let it die?

    For this question it may help to briefly examine the bill itself.

What is your analysis of this vote?

  1. What trends do you see in this vote?
  2. Members of Congress side together for many reasons beside being in the same political party, especially so for less prominent legislation or legislation specific to a certain region. What might have determined how the roll call came out in this case? Does it look like Members of Congress voted based on party, geography, or some other reason?

    One tool that will be helpful in answering this question is the cartogram at the top of the page. A cartogram is a stylized map of the United States that shows each district as an identical hexagon. This view allows you to see the how the representatives from each district voted arranged by their geography and colored by their political party. What trends can you see in the cartogram for this vote?

  3. How did your representative vote?
  4. There is one vote here that should be more important to you than all the others. These are the votes cast by your representative, which is meant to represent you and your community. Do you agree with how your representative voted? Why do you think they voted the way they did?

    If you don’t already know who your Members of Congress are you can find them by entering your address here.

Each vote’s study guide is a little different — we automatically choose which questions to include based on the information we have available about the vote. Study guides are a new feature to GovTrack. You can help us improve them by filling out this survey or by sending your feedback to hello@govtrack.us.