Most Recent Votes

This feature will appear in Koos News on a regular basis whenever votes take place in the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives. This is in keeping with our policy of holding our elected officials accountable for what they do rather than what they say.

Archive : past votes

posted 12-14-14

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Executive Action on Immigration - Passage
Vote Passed (219-197, 3 Present, 15 Not Voting)

The House voted to pass a bill that would prohibit the executive branch from exempting or deferring from deportation any immigrants considered to be unlawfully present in the United States. It also would prohibit the administration from treating those immigrants as if they were lawfully present or had lawful immigration status. Since he does not believe in national sovereignty, more American jobs or the security of the Untied States:

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Fiscal 2015 Defense Authorization - Motion to Concur
Vote Passed (300-119, 15 Not Voting)

The House voted to concur in the Senate amendment with a House amendment and pass the bill that would authorize $495.9 billion for the Defense Department's base budget, $17.5 billion for national security programs within the Energy Department and $63.7 billion to support Overseas Contingency Operations including $5.1 billion to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO


posted 11-30-14

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Keystone XL Pipeline - Passage
Vote Failed (59-41)

The Senate rejected a bill that would immediately allow TransCanada to construct, connect, operate and maintain the pipeline and cross-border facilities known as the Keystone XL pipeline, including any revision to the pipeline route within Nebraska as required or authorized by the state. By unanimous consent, the Senate agreed to raise the majority requirement for passage of the bill to 60 votes. Oregon's two senators don't want the 40,000 new jobs, lower energy prices or increased energy independence.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

*Surveillance Authorities - Cloture
Vote Rejected (58-42)

The Senate failed to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to a bill that would prohibit the bulk collection of domestic telephone and Internet metadata by intelligence agencies. It would allow intelligence agencies to query data held by telephone companies if the government can demonstrate the search is needed to fight terrorism.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*EPA Research Standards – Passage
Vote Passed (237-190, 7 Not Voting)

The House voted to pass a bill that would prohibit the EPA from proposing, finalizing or disseminating a rule or other regulatory impact analysis or guidance unless all scientific and technical information used to support the research results is made publicly available and can be independently analyzed and reproduced. It also would clarify that environmental research law does not require the disclosure of information that is prohibited by law. DeFazio believes that the government has no obligation for transparency or to adhere to scientific facts.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO


posted 11-23-14

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Child Care and Development Block Grant - Cloture
Vote Agreed to (96-1, 3 Not Voting)

The Senate voted to invoke cloture on a motion to concur in the House amendment to the Senate amendment to the bill that would reauthorize, through fiscal 2019, the Child Care and Development Block Grant program and institute new educational, health and safety standards on child care providers that receive funds.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Keystone XL Pipeline - Passage
Vote Passed (252-161, 1 Present, 20 Not Voting)

The House voted to pass a bill that would immediately allow TransCanada to construct, connect, operate and maintain the pipeline and cross-border facilities known as the Keystone XL pipeline, including any revision to the pipeline route within Nebraska as required or authorized by the state. It also would consider the January 2014 environmental impact statement issued by the State Department sufficient to satisfy all requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act. Apparently, Peter Defazio doesn't care about 40,000 new jobs, energy independence or lower fuel prices.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO


posted 9-28-14

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Equal Pay - Cloture
Vote Rejected (52-40, 8 Not Voting)

The Senate failed to invoke cloture on a bill that would require employers to demonstrate that wage gaps between men and women with similar qualifications and in similar jobs have a business justification. It would prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who share salary information and authorize the Labor secretary to seek additional compensatory or punitive damages in a sex discrimination action.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Fiscal 2015 Continuing Resolution - Passage
Vote Passed (78-22)

The Senate voted to clear for the president's signature a joint resolution that would provide funding for federal government operations until Dec. 11, 2014, at an annualized rate of $1.012 trillion. It would provide $88 million for government efforts to fight the Ebola virus, provide U.S. border agencies with budget flexibility to maintain current border protection and enforcement activities and extend the Export-Import Bank's operating authority through June 30, 2015.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Fiscal 2015 Continuing Resolution - Passage
Vote Passed (319-108, 4 Not Voting)

The House voted to pass a joint resolution that would provide funding for federal government operations until Dec. 11, 2014, at an annualized rate of $1.012 trillion. It would provide $88 million for government efforts to fight the Ebola virus, provide U.S. border agencies with budget flexibility to maintain current border protection and enforcement activities, and extend the Export-Import Bank's operating authority through June 30, 2015.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO


posted 9-21-14

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Campaign Finance Constitutional Amendment - Cloture
Vote Rejected (54-42, 4 Not Voting)

The Senate failed to invoke cloture on a joint resolution proposing a constitutional amendment that would allow federal and state lawmakers to set limits on money raised and spent by candidates and others to influence elections. The amendment would give Congress and the states the power to distinguish between people and "corporations or other artificial entities created by law" and to block such entities from spending money on elections.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted - YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted - YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Water Regulation - Passage
Vote Passed (262-152, 17 Not Voting)

The House voted to pass a bill that would prohibit the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers from finalizing an expansion of the federal water pollution law. Since he always supports more government regulation:

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted - NO

*Health Plan Extensions - Passage
Vote Passed (247-167, 17 Not Voting)

The House voted to pass a bill that would allow health insurers to continue providing any group health plans offered in 2013 to existing or new enrollees, even if the plans do not comply with the coverage requirements under the 2010 health care law. The measure also would consider those plans as grandfathered and thus not subject to penalties for not complying with the law's individual mandate. Again, DeFazio supports more government intrusion into our lives.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted - NO


6-17-2010

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Motion to Invoke Cloture on Baucus Substitute Amendment; American Workers, State, and Business Relief Act of 2010
Vote Rejected (56-40, 4 Not Voting)

The Senate rejected the motion to end debate and vote on this $118 billion version of the bill to extend tax cuts and unemployment benefits due to concerns about the federal deficit. Apparently Senators Wyden and Merkley aren't concerned about the increasing deficits and the taxpayers' ability to fund this additional spending. The Senate is likely to continue its work on the bill this week.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Small Business Lending Fund Act of 2010
Vote Passed (241-182, 9 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill that would establish a $30 billion lending fund administered by the Treasury Department to invest in financial institutions, like community banks, with the intention of expanding the availability of credit to small businesses. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

7-2-2010

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability,
and Divestment Act
Vote Passed (99-0, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate unanimously approved the conference report to this bill that would impose new sanctions on companies doing business with Iran. The House voted on the conference report later that day.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES

7-21-11

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Military Construction-VA Appropriations, FY2012
Vote Passed (97-2, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate passed its version of the military construction and Department of Veterans Affairs appropriations bill for the upcoming fiscal year. The $144 billion bill differs slightly from the House version that passed on June 14. A conference committee will work out a final bill.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Motion to Table; Cut, Cap, and Balance Act of 2011
Vote Agreed to (51-46, 3 Not Voting)

The Senate agreed to this motion to table the House-passed "Cut, Cap and Balance" debt ceiling and balanced-budget plan. This was the best bill so far presented that would have brought government spending under control while raising the debt ceiling to avert an economic meltdown. The move essentially kills the bill.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES. He and Merkeley are more interested in playing partisan politics than they are in representing the best interests of the people of the United States.

Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Cut, Cap, and Balance Act
Vote Passed (234-190, 8 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill that would make a debt ceiling increase contingent on passage of a balanced-budget constitutional amendment. The White House indicated the president would veto it. The Senate rejected the bill later in the week.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO in keeping with his agenda that government is the answer to all problems and that all the people's money belongs to government.

*Consumer Financial Protection Safety and Soundness Improvement Act of 2011
Vote Passed (241-173, 18 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill to alter the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a mortgage and credit card watchdog group created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law. The bill would raise the threshold by which the Financial Stability Oversight Council can overturn CFPB regulations and require Senate confirmation of a director before the CFPB can begin operating. The Senate is unlikely to pass the bill.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO. Again, DeFazio has shown that he believes that all power should reside in government bureaucrats rather than common sense.

*Legislative Branch Appropriations, FY2012
Vote Passed (252-159, 21 Not Voting)

This $3.3 billion bill would fund the legislative branch in the upcoming fiscal year. It marks a 6.4 percent reduction from the current funding level. It is not clear when the Senate will take up the bill.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO. Heaven forbid that DeFazio vote for some sort of cut to government spending.


Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Motion to Invoke Cloture on Reid Amendment; American Workers, State, and Business Relief Act of 2010
Vote Rejected (57-41, 2 Not Voting)

The Senate rejected the motion to end debate on this latest version of a bill to extend several expired tax provisions and unemployment benefits due to concerns about the federal deficit. After failing to agree on how to pay for the bill, Senate Democratic leaders have decided to move on to other legislation, and the bill?s future is unclear.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act
Vote Passed (219-206, 8 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill along party lines that would establish new reporting requirements for corporations, unions and other interest groups for campaign-related activities. This has been reported upon in the media as the DISCLOSE ACT. It is the congress' way of circumventing the Supreme Court's ruling protecting the fight to free speech for EVERYONE. Apparently DeFazio believes that only certain special interest groups deserve the right to free speech. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability,
and Divestment Act
Vote Passed (408-8, 1 Present, 16 Not Voting)

The House approved the conference report to this legislation that would impose new sanctions on companies doing business with Iran, sending it to the White House. The president is expected to sign the bill.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

7-9-2010

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Confirmation of Gen. David H. Petraeus to be General
Vote Confirmed (99-0)

The Senate unanimously confirmed Gen. Petraeus for reappointment to the grade of general and to be commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. This, after Democrats savaged Petraeus for creating the “Surge” that was so successful under President Bush. Is there some hypocrisy here?

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Motion to Invoke Cloture on Reid Amendment; American Workers, State, and Business Relief Act of 2010
Vote Rejected (58-38, 3 Not Voting)

The Senate once again rejected the motion to end debate on this latest version of a bill to extend several expired tax provisions and unemployment benefits due to concerns about the federal deficit. The bill?'s future still remains unclear. Neither Wyden nor Merkley seem to be concerned about the blooming federal deficit. They'll be happy to vote for anything that spends more of your money!

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Homebuyer Assistance and Improvement Act
Vote Passed (409-5, 18 Not Voting)

The House passed this legislation to extend the required closing date for the first-time homebuyer tax credit, allowing individuals who have already entered a contract by April 30 to close on the purchase no later than September 30, 2010. The Senate passed the bill by a voice vote the next day, sending it to the president. The president signed it into law.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
Vote Passed (237-192, 4 Not Voting)

The House passed the final version of the financial regulation reform legislation. This will effectively bring the banking industry under the same controls as the auto makers the government took over. How long will it be before the federal government owns and/or controls all means of production in this country? What kind of representative would support this nonsense? It now awaits Senate approval.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Restoration of Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act

Vote Passed (270-153, 10 Not Voting)

The House approved this bill to further extend eligibility for extended federal unemployment insurance for laid-off workers through November 30. The bill, which would also make these changes retroactive to June 2. Like Wyden and Merkley, DeFazio doesn't seem to understand the country is out of money and that 62 cents of every dollar they want to spend is being borrowed from China. How will we ever pay it back? The bill now heads to the Senate, where its future is not clear.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
Vote Agreed to (60-39)

The Senate passed the final version of the financial regulation reform legislation. It imposes additional fees on banks which will be passed along to consumers. It also gives the government access to all individuals' accounts as well as increases taxes on certain kinds of investments. The president signed the bill into law.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Telework Improvements Act
Vote Passed (290-131, 11 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill that would set standards for federal employees working remotely. It would require the head of each federal agency to establish and implement a policy that would allow employees to work remotely as much as possible without diminishing agency operations or performance. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Flood Insurance Reform Priorities Act
Vote Passed (329-90, 13 Not Voting)

The House passed this legislation that would reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program through September 2015. The bill heads to the Senate next.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

8-20-2010

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2010
Vote Agreed to (59-39, 2 Not Voting)

The Senate passed this bill to extend unemployment benefits through November 30, making the extension retroactive to June 2 when the last extension expired. This bill adds another $36 billion to the public debt and ignored a similar bill introduced by Massachusetts Representative Scott Brown which would have been deficit neutral. Both Wyden and Merkley would rather increase the national debt rather than vote for a bill introduced by a Republican. Because it was amended by the Senate, it was sent back to the House for final approval.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2010
Vote Rejected (46-51, 3 Not Voting)

The Senate rejected the House?s amendment to this legislation funding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and providing for additional funding for foreign aid and disaster assistance. The amendment would have added $22.8 billion in additional domestic pork barrel spending. Of course, both Wyden and Merkley voted for the pork and the additional $22.8 billion added to the already $1.4 trillion deficit . The House is expected to approve the bill without the amendment.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2010
Vote Passed (271-152, 9 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill to extend unemployment benefits through November 30, making the extension retroactive to June 2 when the last extension expired. The bill will add an additonal $36 billion to the already $1.4 trillion deficit. It was then sent to the president, who signed it the same day.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

9-10-2010 issue

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act
Vote Agreed to (61-39)

The Senate passed this bill to provide $16.1 billion to extend increased Medicaid assistance to states and $10 billion in funding for states to create or retain teachers? jobs. Most of that money went to pay teachers' salaries and as a bailout for the teachers' pension funds. Very little went towards the classrooms. The House must vote on the bill next.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act
Vote Rejected (57-41, 2 Not Voting)

The Senate rejected ending debate on this campaign finance disclosure legislation. It is an effort by Democrats to limit the political voice of their opponents. The bill will likely not return to the Senate floor until September.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Small Business Lending Fund Act of 2010
Vote Rejected (58-42)

The Senate rejected ending debate on this bill that aims to expand the availability of credit to small businesses. As with other bills purported to benefit specific groups, there are so many strings attached that few businesses would be likely to avail themselves of this program. The Senate may work more on the bill this week.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act
Vote Passed (247-161, 25 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill to provide $16.1 billion to extend increased Medicaid assistance to states and $10 billion in funding for states to create or retain teachers' jobs. Most of that money went to pay teachers' salaries and as a bailout for the teachers' pension funds. Very little went towards the classrooms. The bill was then sent to the president, who signed it into law on the same day.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2010
Vote Passed (308-114, 10 Not Voting)

The House passed this $58.8 billion bill funding the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and providing for additional funding for foreign aid and disaster assistance. The bill then went to the president, who signed it into law on Thursday.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2011
Vote Passed (411-6, 15 Not Voting)

The House approved this $141.1 billion bill funding military construction projects and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2011
Vote Passed (251-167, 14 Not Voting)

The House approved this $126.3 billion legislation funding the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and other related agencies. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

9-24-2010 issue

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Confirmation of Jane Branstetter Stranch, of Tennessee, to be US Circuit Judge for the Sixth Circuit

Vote Confirmed (71-21, 8 Not Voting)

The Senate voted to confirm the nomination of Jane Branstetter Stranch, a Nashville attorney, to the federal bench.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010
Vote Passed (61-38, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate passed a bill that would provide for a variety of small-business tax provisions, including a revival of an expired bonus depreciation provision to allow companies to write off assets more quickly. The bill now returns to the House, which is expected to agree to Senate amendments and clear the bill for the President's signature.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Rural Energy Savings Program Act
Vote Passed (240-172, 20 Not Voting)

The House passed a bill that would authorize $5 billion over five years to create two energy efficiency loan programs. The intent is to create more and more “Clean and Green” energy programs that are not economically viable without taxpayer subsidies making us more and more dependent on foreign energy sources. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Confirmation of Jane Branstetter Stranch, of Tennessee, to be US Circuit Judge for the Sixth Circuit

Vote Confirmed (71-21, 8 Not Voting)

The Senate voted to confirm the nomination of Jane Branstetter Stranch, a Nashville attorney, to the federal bench.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010
Vote Passed (61-38, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate passed a bill that would provide for a variety of small-business tax provisions, including a revival of an expired bonus depreciation provision to allow companies to write off assets more quickly. The bill now returns to the House, which is expected to agree to Senate amendments and clear the bill for the President's signature.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Rural Energy Savings Program Act
Vote Passed (240-172, 20 Not Voting)

The House passed a bill that would authorize $5 billion over five years to create two energy efficiency loan programs. The intent is to create more and more “Clean and Green” energy programs that are not economically viable without taxpayer subsidies making us more and more dependent on foreign energy sources. The bill now goes to the Senate.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

4-8-2011

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Small Business Paperwork Mandate Elimination
Act of 2011
Vote Passed (87-12, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate gave final approval to this bill repealing a provision of the 2010 health care bill requiring businesses to report payments to vendors over $600 to the Internal Revenue Service. The House passed the bill last month. The president is expected to sign it into law.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*To ban EPA regulation of greenhouse gas emissions
Vote Rejected (50-50)

During work on the small business bill, the Senate fell short of the 60 votes required to pass this amendment that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases for the purpose of addressing climate change. The House passed a stand-alone bill later in the week, but its future is unclear at this time.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011
Vote Passed (255-172, 5 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases for the purpose of addressing climate change. A similar measure failed in the Senate earlier in the week.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Net Neutrality Disapproval
Vote Passed (240-179, 13 Not Voting)

This resolution would nullify a Federal Communications Commission rule prohibiting broadband Internet service providers from blocking content or traffic. Supporters of the resolution say the FCC does not have the authority to regulate the Internet, while opponents contend the regulations are necessary to provide unfettered access to the Internet. A companion resolution has been introduced in the Senate but its future is unclear.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Further Additional Continuing Appropriations Amendments, 2011
Vote Passed (348-70, 14 Not Voting)

The House passed this one-week appropriations measure, giving negotiators time to draft the full-year appropriations measure. The Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent and the president signed the measure into law.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

4-25-2011 issue

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Fiscal 2011 Health Care Overhaul Funding
Vote Rejected (47-53)

The Senate rejected this enrollment correction resolution that would have blocked funding for the implementation of the health care law in the 2011 fiscal year spending bill since the country is out of money. The House adopted the resolution. Both chambers had to pass the resolution for it to be included in the final spending bill.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

*Fiscal 2011 Planned Parenthood Funding
Vote Rejected (42-58)

The Senate rejected this enrollment correction resolution that would have blocked funding for Planned Parenthood in the 2011 fiscal year spending bill. Funding abortion is more important to the Democrat controlled Senate than living within our budget. The House adopted the resolution. Both chambers had to pass the resolution for it to be included in the final spending bill.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

*Fiscal 2011 Spending Agreement
Vote Passed (81-19)

The Senate gave final approval to this bill funding the government through the end of the current fiscal year since Oprsident Obama and the Democrat controlled congress did not pass a budget in the last session. Based on the agreement negotiated to prevent a government shutdown, the bill provides $1.055 trillion in federal spending. The president signed the bill into law on Friday, April 15.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*To repeal the Prevention and Public Health Fund
Vote Passed (236-183, 13 Not Voting)

This House bill would eliminate funding for the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which was established by the health care law. Supporters of the bill say there is no accountability to determine where the money is spent. Opponents of the bill say it would defund important prevention programs. The Senate is unlikely to take up the measure.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Fiscal 2011 Spending Agreement
Vote Passed (260-167, 6 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill to fund the government through the end of the current fiscal year since President Obama and the Democrat controlled congress did not pass a budget in the last session. Based on the agreement negotiated to prevent a government shutdown, the bill provides $1.055 trillion in federal spending. The Senate passed the bill later in the day, clearing it for the president.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Fiscal 2011 Health Care Overhaul Funding
Vote Passed (240-185, 7 Not Voting)

Following passage of the 2011 spending bill, the House adopted this enrollment correction resolution that would have blocked funding for the implementation of the health care law since the country is out of money. The Senate rejected the resolution so it will not be part of the final spending bill.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Fiscal 2011 Planned Parenthood Funding
Vote Passed (241-185, 1 Present, 5 Not Voting)

Following passage of the 2011 spending bill, the House adopted this enrollment correction resolution that would have blocked funding for Planned Parenthood. Funding abortion is more important to DeFazio than living within our budget. The Senate rejected the resolution so it will not be part of the final spending bill.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Fiscal 2012 House Budget Resolution
Vote Passed (235-193, 4 Not Voting)

The House passed a budget resolution that calls for $1.019 trillion in discretionary spending in the 2012 fiscal year. The budget resolution would allow for $2.859 trillion in overall spending. The resolution is non-binding but is used as a guideline for appropriators. The Senate is expected to work on its budget after the recess.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

5-17-2011 issue

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Confirmation John J. McConnell, Jr. of Rhode Island, to be U.S. District Judge
Vote Confirmed (50-44, 5 Not Voting)

The Senate confirmed attorney John J. McConnell to be a district court judge in Rhode Island.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*To repeal mandatory funding provided to establish American Health Benefit Exchanges
Vote Passed (238-183, 11 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill to eliminate federal grants to states to set up health insurance exchanges. The grants are part of the 2010 health care bill which requires each state to establish an exchange by 2014. The bill is unlikely to advance in the Senate.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*To repeal mandatory funding for school-based health center construction
Vote Passed (235-191, 6 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill that would repeal a section in the 2010 health care bill providing funding for the construction of school-based health centers. The bill is unlikely to advance in the Senate.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act
Vote Passed (251-175, 6 Not Voting)

This bill would prohibit federal funds from being used for abortions, except in the cases of rape, incest or danger to the woman's life. A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate, but it is unlikely to gain any traction.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act
Vote Passed (266-149, 17 Not Voting)

This House bill would require the Interior Department to sell oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Virginia. The bill's future in the Senate is uncertain.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

Ed. Note: Apparently Rep. Peter DeFazio is still in favor of Obama Care even though he didn't read it before he voted for it. He also favors federal taxpayer money for abortions but opposes drilling for oil to reduce American dependence on foreign oil and reduce gasoline prices.

5-23-11

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Cloture Motion; James M. Cole to be Deputy Attorney General
Vote Rejected (50-40, 10 Not Voting)

The Senate fell short of the 60 votes needed to end debate and move to a final vote on the nomination of James M. Cole to be deputy attorney general. Cole was given a recess appointment in December 2010.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act
Vote Passed (263-163, 5 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill that would expedite the permitting process for lessees seeking to drill for oil and natural gas in the Gulf of Mexico. The Interior Department would be required to review applications within 30 days, with the option of extending the review period to 60 days. The Senate is unlikely to take up the bill. Peter DeFazio doesn't believe we should have people working.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act
Vote Passed (243-179, 9 Not Voting)

This House bill would require the Interior Department to open certain unused areas of the Outer Continental Shelf for oil and natural gas drilling. The bill is unlikely to advance in the Senate. Peter DeFazio likes high gas prices and doesn't believe people should go back to work.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011
Vote Passed (392-15, 24 Not Voting)

The House approved this bill authorizing intelligence-related programs for the current fiscal year. Funding levels authorized for the 16 intelligence gathering agencies are classified, but it is estimated to be around $80 billion. The Senate version of the bill is currently at a standstill.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

5-31-11

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*FY2012 House Budget Resolution
Vote Rejected (40-57, 3 Not Voting)

The Senate rejected a motion to proceed to consideration of the House-passed 2012 fiscal year budget resolution. Since Democrats wouldn't pass a budget in the two years they had control of congress and the presidency, they are still trying to prevent any type of reasonable spending restrictions.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

*Motion to Proceed; Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act
Vote Rejected (52-48)

The Senate fell short of the 60 votes needed to proceed to consideration of this bill that would end certain tax breaks for large oil companies. The bill may resurface as part of the upcoming budget negotiations. Of course, our Senators from Oregon voted to increase gas prices.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Motion to Proceed; Offshore Production and Safety Act of 2011
Vote Rejected (42-57, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate fell short of the 60 votes needed to take up this bill intended to increase offshore oil production. The bill is similar to the offshore oil bills passed in the House earlier this month. Again, our Senators from Oregon are in favor of keeping us dependent on foreign oil and keeping gas prices high.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

*Cloture Motion; Nomination of Goodwin Liu to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit
Vote Rejected (52-43, 1 Present, 4 Not Voting)

The Senate rejected this cloture motion on the nomination of Goodwin Liu to be a federal appeals court judge. A cloture motion requires 60 votes to end debate and move on to a final vote. Liu has a track record of legislating from the bench and he believes the Constitution should be reinterpreted to allow the federal government more power.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

6-13-11

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Debt Limit Increase
Vote Failed (97-318, 7 Present, 9 Not Voting)

The House rejected this bill to raise the public debt limit by $2.4 trillion. The government is expected to hit the current $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by August 2, 2011. Negotiations between the White House and congressional leaders are ongoing.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Homeland Security Appropriations, FY 2012
Vote Passed (231-188, 13 Not Voting)

This bill would provide the Department of Homeland Security with $42.3 billion in funding for the upcoming fiscal year. The total is 2.6% less than the current fiscal year. The bill includes $1 billion in emergency spending for disaster aid. Senate appropriators have not drafted their version of the bill yet.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Use of Ground Forces in Libya
Vote Passed (268-145, 1 Present, 18 Not Voting)

The House passed this resolution stating the chamber’s opposition to deploying ground forces in Libya and requiring President Obama to report the strategy for U.S. involvement in combat operations in Libya to Congress within 14 days. The resolution is non-binding.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Libya Troop Withdrawal
Vote Failed (148-265, 19 Not Voting)

The House failed to pass this resolution that would have forced the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Libya within 15 days.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

7-1-11

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Ethanol subsidies amendment
Vote Agreed to (73-27)

During work on the Economic Development Administration bill, the Senate adopted this amendment to eliminate a tax credit refiners receive for adding ethanol to gasoline and a tariff on imported ethanol.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Military Construction-Veterans Affairs Appropriations, FY2012
Vote Passed (411-5, 16 Not Voting)

The House passed this $143.9 billion bill that would fund the Veterans Affairs Department and the Defense Department’s construction activities for the upcoming fiscal year. The bill marks a two percent increase over the current year’s level. The Senate has not yet begun work on its version of the bill.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Agriculture Appropriations, FY2012
Vote Passed (217-203, 12 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill that would provide $125.5 billion in the upcoming fiscal year for the Agriculture Department. The bill would cut discretionary spending by thirteen percent over the current amount and increase mandatory spending by three percent. The Senate has not yet begun work on its version of the bill.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

7-6-11

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Confirmation of Leon E. Panetta to be Secretary of Defense
Vote Confirmed (100-0)

Current CIA Director Leon E. Panetta was confirmed to be the next Secretary of Defense. Panetta succeeds Secretary Robert Gates, who is retiring at the end of June.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Jobs and Energy Permitting Act of 2011
Vote Passed (253-166, 12 Not Voting)

This House bill would require the EPA to complete action within six months on air pollution permit applications for offshore oil and gas drilling. A companion measure has been introduced in the Senate but its future is unclear. The administration opposes the bill. In keeping with past positions on energy issues, Peter DeFazio still has no interest in making America self-sufficient.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*America Invents Act
Vote Passed (304-117, 10 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill that would make changes to the patent system. In essence, it would screw inventors and benefit big banks. The Senate passed its version of the bill in March 2011. Negotiators will likely meet this summer to work out a compromise bill. The administration has expressed support for the House bill.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Authorizing the limited use of the United States Armed Forces in support of the NATO mission in Libya
Vote Failed (123-295, 13 Not Voting)

The House rejected a resolution that would have authorized the use of U.S. military force in Libya for one year.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*To limit the use of funds to support NATO Operation Unified Protector with respect to Libya
Vote Failed (180-238, 13 Not Voting)

The House rejected this bill that would have defunded U.S. military involvement in NATO activities in Libya. U.S. participation would have been restricted to support operations such as intelligence, surveillance, and search and rescue.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

7-15-11

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011
Vote Passed (79-20, 1 Not Voting)

This bill is an attempt for the Senate to abrogate its responsibilities as elected representatives of the people. It would reduce the number of executive branch appointees requiring Senate approval. Its future in the House is unclear.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Confirmation of David H. Petraeus to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
Vote Confirmed (94-0, 6 Not Voting)

Army Gen. David H. Petraeus was confirmed to be the new CIA director. Petraeus, currently the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, is expected to begin work in September.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

7-22-11

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Better Use of Light Bulbs Act
Vote Failed (233-193, 1 Present, 4 Not Voting)

The House rejected this bill that would have repealed energy efficiency standards that are expected to lead to a phase out of the traditional incandescent light bulb. A two-thirds vote was necessary to pass the bill under suspension of the rules. The bill is likely to come up again under a rule or as part of another bill.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO. He apparently believes that Americans should pay more for light bulbs and endanger themselves and their families with the new mercuroy containing bulbs.

*Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011
Vote Passed (239-184, 8 Not Voting)

This House bill would limit the EPA’s authority to override a state’s water pollution standards in favor of stricter standards. It is unclear if the Senate will take up the bill. The White House has issued a veto threat.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO. Defazio believes the federal government should usurp state's rights and have control of EVERYTHING!

*Energy-Water Appropriations, FY2012
Vote Passed (219-196, 16 Not Voting)

The House passed this 2012 fiscal year spending bill that would provide $30.6 billion to the Department of Energy, the Army Corps of Engineers and various water projects. The Senate has not written its version of the bill yet.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

8-21-11

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Confirmation of Robert S. Mueller III to be Director of the FBI
Vote Confirmed (100-0)

The Senate agreed to extend the term of Federal Bureau of Investigation director Robert S. Mueller III through September 4, 2013. The FBI director is limited to one 10-year term and Mueller’s term began in August 2001. The president signed legislation earlier in the week to allow Mueller to serve an additional two years.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Budget Control Act of 2011
Vote Agreed to (74-26)

The Senate gave final approval to this bill to raise the debt limit by at least $2.1 trillion with no real cuts to spending, only a small reduction in the rate of government growth. President Obama signed the bill into law a short time later.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*North American-Made Energy Security Act
Vote Passed (279-147, 1 Present, 5 Not Voting)

This House bill would require the White House to decide by November 1 whether to allow construction of a 1,700 mile oil pipeline running from Canada to U.S. refineries in the Midwest and Gulf Coast. The application to build the pipeline was made nearly three years ago. The White House said the State Department is committed to completing its review by the end of the year and called the bill "unnecessary."

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO. As usual, DeFazio any type of carbon based energy independence for America.

*Budget Control Act of 2011
Vote Passed (269-161, 3 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill that raises the debt limit, slows the rate of growth in discretionary spending for ten years, establishes a bipartisan committee to identify additional spending cuts, and requires a vote on a balanced budget amendment to the constitution. The Senate gave final approval to the bill the next day, clearing it for the president.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

9-15-11

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Leahy-Smith America Invents Act
Vote Passed (89-9, 2 Not Voting)

The Senate gave final approval to this bill that would change the way patents are awarded from “first to invent” to “first to file.” The overhaul is intended to speed up the process of awarding patents. The House passed the bill in June. President Obama has signed it into law.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Motion to Proceed; Debt limit disapproval
Vote Rejected (45-52, 3 Not Voting)

The Senate rejected this motion to take up a resolution that would have disapproved a $500 billion debt limit increase. Under the budget law enacted on August 2, the debt limit was increased by $400 billion. A second increase of $500 billion will automatically take effect unless Congress passes a disapproval measure. The Senate's failure to disapprove this half billion dollar increase in the debt limit is another nail in the coffin of our already stressed national economy and another failure by our elitist senators to get rampant government spending under control.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Intelligence Authorization Act, FY 2012
Vote Passed (384-14, 33 Not Voting)

This House bill would authorize spending for the 16 intelligence agencies in the upcoming fiscal year. The cost of the bill is classified. The Senate is expected to take up the bill later this year.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

9-24-11

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Emergency Supplemental Disaster Relief Appropriations Resolution, 2011
Vote Agreed to (62-37, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate agreed to add supplemental disaster relief funding to legislation extending the trade sanctions on Myanmar, still commonly known as Burma. The bill, later passed by unanimous consent, would provide $6.9 billion in immediate aid. The vote came after the Senate rejected two proposals to offset the cost of the funding.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Surface and Air Transportation Programs Extension Act of 2011
Vote Passed (92-6, 2 Not Voting)

On Thursday, the Senate approved this bill to extend FAA programs through January 2012 and surface transportation authorization through March 2012. The House had passed the bill by voice vote earlier in the week. Aviation programs were scheduled to expire on September 16, and highway programs would have expired this week. The president signed the bill last Friday.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Empowering Parents through Quality Charter Schools Act
Vote Passed (365-54, 12 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill to expand successful charter school programs, the first part of an effort to overhaul and reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act. The Senate is likely to consider charter school legislation as part of a broader reauthorization of No Child Left Behind rather than as a stand-alone bill.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Protecting Jobs From Government Interference Act
Vote Passed (238-186, 9 Not Voting)

The House approved this legislation to limit the authority of the National Labor Relations Board. The bill prohibits the board from ordering an employer to restore, shut down or relocate operations. The Senate is unlikely to take up the measure.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, as expected, voted NO. He would rather back this power play by union leadership through NLRB than see new American jobs created.

10-10-11

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Trade Adjustment Assistance Extension Act of 2011
Vote Passed (70-27, 3 Not Voting)

The Senate passed this bill that would provide additional assistance to workers affected by foreign trade agreements. It would also revive the Generalized System of Preferences program that is intended to help developing countries expand their trade. Speaker John Boehner said the House will consider the bill if the president submits trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea to Congress.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Short-Term Continuing Appropriations
Vote Passed (219-203, 11 Not Voting)

This bill would fund the government through the first seven weeks of the 2012 fiscal year, which starts on October 1. The bill offsets an increase in federal disaster aid by reducing funding for two Energy Department loan programs. The Senate subsequently rejected the bill and scheduled a vote on an alternate version this week.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Cumulative Regulatory Analysis
Vote Passed (249-169, 15 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill that would delay the EPA’s implementation of two air pollution regulations. The bill also requires the president to establish a commission to report on the cost of certain EPA regulations. The Senate is unlikely to take up the bill. As usual, DeFazio's vote indicates he supports rampant government over regulation without accountability regarding cost.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

10-18-11

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012
Vote Passed (352-66, 15 Not Voting)

The House gave final approval to this measure that funds the government through November 18 at the level agreed to in the August debt limit law. The new fiscal year began on October 1 with none of the annual spending bills completed. President Obama signed the bill into law the next day.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act of 2011
Vote Passed (262-161, 10 Not Voting)

The House voted to delay the EPA’s implementation of air pollution rules for cement plants by 15 months. The Senate is unlikely to take up the bill. The White House has also threatened to veto the bill.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

10-30-11

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2011
Vote Passed (63-35, 2 Not Voting)

The Senate passed this bill last week that would allow economic sanctions to be placed on China for keeping its currency value artificially low. The House is unlikely to vote on the measure.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*American Jobs Act of 2011
Vote Rejected (50-49, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate did not reach the necessary 60 votes to end debate on the president’s comprehensive $447 billion jobs bill, which is essentially a jobs bill for public employees unions, effectively tabling the legislation. Parts of the bill will likely be considered in multiple smaller bills.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Vote Passed (83-15, 2 Not Voting)

The Senate voted to implement a trade pact with South Korea. The House approved the bill earlier in the day and the president is expected to sign the bill into law.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley, being an ideologue incapable of rational thought, voted NO

*United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act
Vote Passed (77-22, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate approved a trade pact with Panama. The House passed the bill earlier the same day and the president is expected to sign it into law.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley, being an ideologue incapable of rational thought, voted NO

*United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act
Vote Passed (66-33, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate passed this bill to implement a trade agreement with Colombia. The House approved the bill earlier in the day and the president is expected to sign it into law.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley, being an ideologue incapable of rational thought, voted NO

*Confirmation of John Edgar Bryson to be Secretary of Commerce
Vote Confirmed (74-26)

The Senate confirmed John Bryson as Secretary of Commerce. Bryson succeeds Gary Locke, who is now the ambassador to China.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Teachers and First Responders Back to Work Act of 2011
Vote Rejected (50-50)

Last week the Senate rejected consideration of this bill that would allocate $30 billion in grants to state and local governments to pay to hire or retain teachers and $5 billion in grants to governments and other groups to pay for law enforcement officers and emergency personnel. This was one component of the president’s broader jobs bill that was rejected earlier in the month.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012
Vote Agreed to (82-16, 2 Not Voting)

The Senate reached the necessary 60 votes to end debate on a legislative package that combines the fiscal 2012 Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science (S 1572) and Transportation-HUD (S 1596) appropriations bills. When they return from a weeklong recess, senators will resume consideration of the bill.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act
Vote Passed (262-167, 4 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill to implement a trade pact with Colombia. The Senate approved the bill later in the day and the president is expected to sign it into law.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, being an ideologue incapable of rational thought, voted NO

*United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act
Vote Passed (300-129, 4 Not Voting)

The House approved this bill to implement a trade pact with Panama. The Senate approved the bill later in the day and the president is expected to sign it into law.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, being an ideologue incapable of rational thought, voted NO

*United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Vote Passed (278-151, 4 Not Voting)

The House passed this trade agreement with South Korea. The Senate approved the bill later in the day and the president is expected to sign it into law.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, being an ideologue incapable of rational thought, voted NO

*EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011
Vote Passed (275-142, 16 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill that would delay EPA emissions rules for boilers, solid-waste incinerators and process heaters, requiring the EPA to re-propose the rules and finalize them exactly 15 months after the bill’s enactment. The Senate is unlikely to vote on the legislation.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

11-13-11

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Fiscal 2012 Agriculture Appropriations
Vote Passed (69-30, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate passed this “minibus” bill making appropriations for the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development. The bill provides the five departments with $128 billion in discretionary funds for the 2012 fiscal year, which began on October 1, 2011. House and Senate conferees have begun meeting to work out a compromise bill.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Motion to Proceed; Rebuild America Jobs Act
Vote Rejected (51-49)

The Senate fell short of the 60 vote threshold needed to move forward on this part of the president’s jobs bill that would have provided $60 billion for transportation projects and created a national infrastructure bank as well as requiring that union labor be used at these projects.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Motion to Proceed; Long-Term Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2011
Vote Rejected (47-53)

The Senate also fell short of the 60 votes needed to move forward on the Republican alternative that would have reauthorized highway programs for two years and overhauled certain regulations.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act
Vote Passed (235-186, 12 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill to transfer a parcel of federal land near Superior, AZ to Resolution Copper Mining. The Senate is unlikely to approve the measure.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Modify Income Calculation for Eligibility for Certain Health Programs
Vote Passed (262-157, 14 Not Voting)

This House bill would take into account a person’s Social Security benefits when determining eligibility for government health care programs. The 2010 health care law excludes Social Security when calculating eligibility. The bill is intended to pay for revenue lost due to H.R.674. The White House supports this measure.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Government Contractor Withholding Repeal Act
Vote Passed (405-16, 12 Not Voting)

The House voted to repeal a requirement that government agencies withhold 3 percent of payments to government contractors. The bill will be paired with H.R.2576 and sent to the Senate. The White House has also expressed support for the withholding measure.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

11-30-11

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Motion to Proceed; Net Neutrality disapproval
Vote Rejected (46-52, 2 Not Voting)

The Senate rejected a move to prohibit the Federal Communications Commission’s "net neutrality" rule from taking effect on November 20. The rule will prohibit broadband service providers from blocking content or applications and allow government to dictate what constitutes “acceptable” content.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

*Motion to Proceed; Cross-border air pollution rule disapproval
Vote Rejected (41-56, 3 Not Voting)

The Senate rejected this move to nullify an Environmental Protection Agency rule on cross-state air pollution targeting emissions from power plants.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

*Government Contractor Withholding Repeal Act
Vote Passed (95-0, 1 Present, 4 Not Voting)

The Senate voted to repeal a requirement that government agencies withhold 3 percent of payments to government contractors. The chamber amended the bill to give tax credits to companies that hire unemployed veterans. The House is expected to take up the amended bill.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

12-8-11

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Fiscal 2012 Agriculture Appropriations
Vote Agreed to (70-30)

The Senate gave final approval to this "minibus" spending bill that combines the 2012 fiscal year Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, and Transportation-HUD appropriations bills. The bill also contains a continuing resolution to keep the rest of the government funded through December 16. The president signed the bill into law the next day. The nine remaining annual appropriations bills may be combined into one bill after the Thanksgiving recess.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011
Vote Passed (272-154, 7 Not Voting)

This House bill would allow citizens with a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun across state lines. The bill's future in the Senate is unclear.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Fiscal 2012 Agriculture Appropriations
Vote Passed (298-121, 14 Not Voting)

The House passed the conference report for this "minibus" spending bill that combines the 2012 fiscal year Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, and Transportation-HUD appropriations bills. The bill also contains a continuing resolution to keep the rest of the government funded through December 16. The Senate passed the bill later in the day, clearing it for the president. The nine remaining annual appropriations bills may be combined into one bill after the Thanksgiving recess.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Proposing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution of the United States
Vote Failed (261-165, 8 Not Voting)

The House fell 23 votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass this balanced-budget constitutional amendment. Under the terms of the August debt limit law, both chambers are required to consider a balanced-budget amendment by the end of 2011. The Senate is expected to consider the proposal in December.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

12-17-11

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*National Defense Authorization Act, FY2012
Vote Passed (93-7)

The Senate passed this bill authorizing $662 billion in defense spending for the current fiscal year. The bill contains provisions requiring suspected terrorists to be held in military custody and places sanctions on Iran. The House passed its version of the bill in May. A conference committee will meet to work out a compromise bill.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Workforce Democracy and Fairness Act
Vote Passed (235-188, 10 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill that would build in a waiting period between the time workers file petitions to unionize and the time the vote occurs. The Senate is unlikely to take up the measure.

In keeping with his policy of supporting union thugs, Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*To reduce Federal spending and the deficit by terminating taxpayer financing of presidential election campaigns and party conventions and by terminating the Election Assistance Commission
Vote Passed (235-190, 8 Not Voting)

This House bill would terminate taxpayer funding of presidential campaigns and conventions. Public funding began in 1976. The bill would also eliminate the Election Assistance Commission, which was established in 2002 to help states to update their voting machines. The Senate is unlikely to take up the measure.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act of 2011
Vote Passed (263-159, 11 Not Voting)

This bill would allow the Small Business Administration to intervene in the regulatory process when small businesses are affected. The Senate is unlikely to act on the measure, which is also opposed by the White House.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES
*Regulatory Accountability Act
Vote Passed (253-167, 13 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill that would require federal agencies to choose the "least costly" option when writing new federal regulations. Agencies would also be required to provide indirect cost estimates and predictions of job gains or losses. The White House opposes the bill.

Since he opposes reining in governmental power and abuse, Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

1-31-12

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Cloture on the Nomination of Richard Cordray to be Director, Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection

Vote Rejected (53-45, 1 Present, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate failed to reach the sixty votes needed to move forward on the nomination of Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB, which was created by the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul, is responsible for overseeing financial products like home loans and credit cards.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Motion to Proceed; Middle Class Tax Cut Act of 2011

Vote Rejected (50-48, 2 Not Voting)

The Senate rejected a motion to move forward on this Democratic proposal to reduce the employee share of the payroll tax from 4.2 to 3.1 percent for 2012. The employer share would stay at 6.2 percent. The payroll tax funds the Social Security trust fund. A law passed in December 2010 is set to expire at the end of 2011 that reduced the employee share from 6.2 to 4.2 percent.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Motion to Proceed; Temporary Tax Holiday and Government Reduction Act

Vote Rejected (22-76, 2 Not Voting)

The Senate rejected a motion to move forward on this Republican proposal to freeze the employee share of the payroll tax at 4.2 percent. The proposal offsets the cost by freezing federal pay and reducing the federal workforce by attrition.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

*Balanced Budget Amendment

Vote Rejected (21-79)

The Senate rejected the Democratic balanced-budget amendment that would have taken Social Security off the books and prohibited Congress from cutting taxes for millionaires if the cut increased the deficit. A two-thirds majority is needed in both chambers to send constitutional amendments to the states for ratification.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO. True to form, Merkley is in favor of ramopant congressional spending without limits.

*Balanced Budget Amendment

Vote Rejected (47-53)

The Senate rejected the Republican balanced-budget amendment proposal that would have required a two-thirds majority in both chambers to increase taxes and limited federal spending to 18 percent of the country’s economic output. The August debt limit law required both chambers to consider balanced-budget amendments before the end of the year.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

*Defense Authorization, FY2012

Vote Agreed to (86-13, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate cleared this $662 billion measure for the president that authorizes defense policies for the current fiscal year. The House passed the bill the previous day. This is the bill that will allow the president to define who and what constitutes terrorism and detain United States Citizens without legal recourse on American soil.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

*Reid-McConnell Amdt.; Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011

Vote Agreed to (89-10, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate approved this amendment to H.R.3630 that replaces the House bill with the Senate’s compromise bill. The amended bill would extend by 2 months the Social Security payroll tax cut and benefits for the long-term unemployed. The deal also includes a provision directing the White House to expedite the decision on the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The bill subsequently passed by unanimous consent. It is unclear as of press time if the House will pass the Senate bill.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2012

Vote Passed (72-27, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate cleared this bill to provide $8.6 billion in disaster relief and to combat Social Security fraud, sending it to the president for his signature. The House passed this bill the previous day.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Military Construction-VA Appropriations, FY2012

Vote Agreed to (67-32, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate gave final approval to the conference report for this $915 billion "megabus" spending bill that provides funds for the rest of the fiscal year for the remaining nine annual appropriations bills. The nine bills are the Military Construction-VA, Defense, Energy-Water, Financial Services, Homeland Security, Interior-Environment, Labor-HHS-Education, Legislative Branch and State-Foreign Operations appropriations bills. The House passed the bill the previous day. The president is expected to sign the bill.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act of 2011

Vote Passed (241-184, 8 Not Voting)

This bill would require congressional approval of federal regulations that are expected to cost the economy $100 million or more or have a significant effect on consumer prices. Currently, regulations take effect unless both Congress and the president approve a resolution disapproving of them. The White House opposes the bill.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO. DeFazio believes that unelected and unaccountable federal agencies should be able to pursue agendas to implement rules without congressional oversight.

*Farm Dust Regulation Prevention Act of 2011

Vote Passed (268-150, 15 Not Voting)

This House-passed bill would prevent the EPA from revising air standards concerning dust from farm operations for one year. The Senate is unlikely to take up the bill. The White House has also issued a veto threat.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO. Again, DeFazio is in favor of federal agencies implementing rules without oversight.

*Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011

Vote Passed (234-193, 6 Not Voting)

The House passed this Republican version of the payroll tax extension bill. The bill would extend the Social Security payroll tax cut for one year, prevent Medicare payments to doctors from being cut more than 27 percent, and overhaul the unemployment benefits program. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called the bill "dead on arrival" in the Senate.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Iran Sanctions

Vote Passed (410-11, 12 Not Voting)

The House voted to strengthen sanctions against Iran that are intended to deny the regime resources to develop nuclear weapons. The Senate is unlikely to pass the bill.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Defense Authorization, FY2012

Vote Passed (283-136, 14 Not Voting)

The House passed this $662 billion measure that authorizes defense policies for the current fiscal year. The Senate cleared the measure for the president the next day.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Intelligence Authorization, FY2012

Vote Passed (396-23, 14 Not Voting)

The House gave final approval to this bill authorizing funds for 16 intelligence agencies for the current fiscal year. The amount is classified, but it is estimated to be around $78.6 billion. The Senate passed the bill on December 14 by unanimous consent. The president is expected to sign it.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Military Construction-VA Appropriations, FY2012

Vote Passed (296-121, 16 Not Voting)

The House passed the conference report for this $915 billion "megabus" spending bill that provides funds for the rest of the fiscal year for the remaining nine annual appropriations bills. The nine bills are the Military Construction-VA, Defense, Energy-Water, Financial Services, Homeland Security, Interior-Environment, Labor-HHS-Education, Legislative Branch and State-Foreign Operations appropriations bills. The Senate gave final approval to the bill the next day. The president is expected to sign it into law.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2012

Vote Passed (351-67, 15 Not Voting)

The House passed this $8.6 billion bill to provide additional disaster relief funds to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers and to combat Social Security waste. The Senate passed the bill the next day, sending it to the President.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Motion to go to conference; Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011

Vote Passed (229-193, 11 Not Voting)

With this vote, the House rejected the Senate's two-month extension of the Social Security payroll tax reduction and requested a conference to consider a yearlong extension. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) stated he would not call the Senate back into session. The standoff ended later in the week when the House agreed to pass the two-month bill and the Senate agreed to name conferees to work out a yearlong extension.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

2-10-12

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Debt limit disapproval
Vote Rejected (44-52, 4 Not Voting)

The Senate rejected this House resolution to block a $1.2 trillion increase in the $15.2 trillion debt ceiling. The increase automatically took effect on January 27, 2012. And we wonder why the United States is $15.5 trillion in debt?

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

*STOCK Act
Vote Passed (96-3, 1 Not Voting)

This Senate bill would strengthen rules prohibiting lawmakers, Capitol Hill staff and some executive branch officials from using confidential information to buy or sell stocks.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Ultralight Aircraft Smuggling Prevention Act
Vote Passed (408-0, 25 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill to change the definition of “ultralight” aircraft in the anti-smuggling statute in order to increase penalties for using them to smuggle drugs. The Senate cleared the measure for the president the next day by unanimous consent. It was the last bill sponsored by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords before her resignation from Congress.

Rep. Peter DeFazio did not vote on this issue

*Fiscal Responsibility and Retirement Security Act
Vote Passed (267-159, 6 Not Voting)

The House voted to repeal the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) program, a provision in the 2010 health care law that was intended to provide long-term care but was suspended after the Department of Health and Human Services determined it could not be solvent for 75 years as required by the law. The bill's future in the Senate is unclear.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Pro-Growth Budgeting Act of 2011
Vote Passed (242-179, 11 Not Voting)

This House measure would require the CBO to assess a bill's impact on long-term economic growth. The Senate is unlikely to take up the bill.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Baseline Reform Act of 2011
Vote Passed (235-177, 20 Not Voting)

This House bill would stop the Congressional Budget Office from incorporating inflation increases into its spending projections. The Senate is unlikely to take up the bill.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*FAA Modernization and Reform Act
Vote Passed (248-169, 15 Not Voting)

The House passed this conference report authorizing $15.9 billion per year through 2015 for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

2-19-12

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act
Vote Agreed to (75-20, 5 Not Voting)

The Senate gave final approval to this conference report authorizing $15.9 billion per year through the 2015 fiscal year for the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA has been operating under a series of short-term extensions since the 2008 fiscal year. The president is expected to sign the measure.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Budget and Accounting Transparency Act
Vote Passed (245-180, 8 Not Voting)

This House bill would incorporate the costs of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into the federal budget, change how the government accounts for loan programs, and require federal agencies to post their budget information on their websites. The Senate is unlikely to take up the bill.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Expedited Line-Item Veto and Rescissions Act of 2011
Vote Passed (254-173, 6 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill to give the president a line-item veto and rescission authority over discretionary spending bills. The bill would give Congress three days to vote to accept or reject the president's rescissions. The White House supports the bill, but the Senate is not expected to take it up.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*STOCK Act
Vote Passed (417-2, 14 Not Voting)

The House passed an amended version of this Senate bill that would strengthen rules prohibiting lawmakers, Capitol Hill staff and some executive branch officials from using confidential information to buy or sell stocks. The Senate now will either accept the modified bill or request a conference committee.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

3-1-12

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act
Vote Agreed to (60-36, 4 Not Voting)

The Senate gave final approval to the agreement to extend the Social Security payroll tax rate cut, which was reduced from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent last year, through the end of 2012. This further erodes the Social Security fund which is already nearing bankruptcy. Another of Obama's “feel good” programs that will devastate retirees in the future. The bill also extends certain unemployment benefits and Medicare physician payment rates through the end of the year. The president is expected to sign the bill into law.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Protecting Investment in Oil Shale the Next Generation of Environmental, Energy, and Resource Security Act
Vote Passed (237-187, 10 Not Voting)

The House passed the first part of the surface transportation authorization bill, which has been divided into three parts. This part deals with energy and would use oil and gas revenue to fund transportation projects.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act
Vote Passed (293-132, 8 Not Voting)

The House passed this agreement to extend the Social Security payroll tax rate cut, which was reduced from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent last year, through the end of 2012. This further erodes the Social Security fund which is already nearing bankruptcy. Another of Obama's “feel good” programs that will devastate retirees in the future. The bill also extends certain unemployment benefits and Medicare physician payment rates through the end of the year. The Senate passed the bill a short time later, clearing it for the president's signature.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

3-9-12

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Motion to Table Blunt Amendment
Vote Agreed to (51-48, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate rejected an amendment to the surface transportation bill that would have allowed employers to exclude certain health services from its insurance plans based on religious grounds. This motion virtually kills the bill from consideration. Apparently the two senators from Oregon don't really believe in religious freedom.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act
Vote Passed (303-114, 16 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill that would overturn an Education Department regulation defining credit hours and rules education institutions must adhere to in order to operate in a state. The bill is intended to ease regulations on the for-profit education industry.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Water Reliability Act
Vote Passed (246-175, 1 Present, 11 Not Voting)

This House bill is intended to increase access to water for agricultural and municipal uses in the San Joaquin Valley in California. With the defeat of this bill, many farmers will have to curtail operations due to the lack of water, thereby driving up the price of fruits and vegetables on the consumer market. The Senate is unlikely to take up the measure.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

3-24-12

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century
(MAP-21) Act
Vote Passed (74-22, 4 Not Voting)

The Senate passed this $109 billion bill that would fund transportation programs and projects for the next two years. It is unclear at this time whether the House will pass a two or five year bill.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Keystone XL Pipeline
Vote Rejected (56-42, 2 Not Voting)

During the debate over the transportation bill, the Senate rejected this amendment that would have allowed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to proceed without presidential approval. This would have created an estimated 20,000 desperately needed jobs as well as reduce our dependency on oil from countries who have proven unfriendly to the United States. Sixty votes were needed to adopt the amendment.

In true partisan fashion without consideration for the welfare of America and Americans:

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Bureau of Reclamation Small Conduit Hydropower Development and Rural Jobs Act of 2011
Vote Passed (265-154, 13 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill that would encourage the development of small-scale hydropower facilities on federal lands. This will provide for more and cheaper energy as well as provide much needed jobs. The bill's future in the Senate is unclear.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act
Vote Passed (390-23, 19 Not Voting)

This House bill would ease reporting and regulatory requirements for small businesses trying to raise capital in order to take the company public. The White House supports the bill, but its path in the Senate is unclear.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

4-3-12

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act
Vote Passed (73-26, 1 Not Voting)

This bill would ease reporting and regulatory requirements for small businesses trying to raise capital in order to take the company public. The House passed the bill on March 8, 2012. The Senate adopted an amendment to the bill which will require the House to vote again. It is expected the House will pass the bill this week and send the bill to the president.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley, who always seems to be anti-business, voted NO

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act
of 2011
Vote Passed (223-181, 4 Present, 23 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill that would eliminate the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) and cap damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. IPAB, also known as a “Death Panel”, was created by the 2010 health care law and is charged with finding savings in Medicare spending. It has no members yet. The Senate is unlikely to take up the bill.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO


RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Judicial Confirmation

Vote Confirmed (91-3, 6 Not Voting)

The Senate confirmed the nomination of Jacqueline H. Nguyen of California to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES

Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Cloture Motion: Student Loan Interest Rates

Vote Rejected (52-45, 1 Present, 2 Not Voting)

This bill would extend the current 3.4 percent interest rate on federally-subsidized Stafford loans to undergraduate students for one year. This extension would be paid for by eliminating a tax preference for certain shareholders of S-Corporations. The Senate failed to reach the 60-vote threshold needed to invoke cloture, and thereby end debate, on the motion to proceed to the bill. It is possible the Senate will hold another cloture vote on this bill. The House passed a competing version (H.R.4628) on April 27.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES

Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Suspension Vote: Export-Import Bank Reauthorization

Vote Passed (330-93, 8 Not Voting)

This bill would extend the charter of the Export-Import Bank of the United States through FY 2014. It would allow the bank's lending limit to rise incrementally to $140 billion (from $100 billion currently). HR 2072 passed under suspension of the rules, meaning the support of at least two thirds of all Members voting (in this case 282) is required for passage.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Suspension Vote: U.S.-Israel Cooperation

Vote Passed (411-2, 9 Present, 9 Not Voting)

This bill states that it shall be U.S. policy to deepen cooperation with Israel in a wide variety of areas, particularly regarding Israel’s "qualitative military edge" over regional rivals; to veto anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations; and to assist Israel in ongoing negotiations on a two-state solution. The bill also extends U.S.-government-backed loan guarantees to Israel through FY 2015. HR 4133 passed under suspension of the rules, meaning the support of at least two thirds of all Members voting (in this case 276) is required for passage.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Sequester Replacement

Vote Passed (218-199, 1 Present, 13 Not Voting)

This bill cancels the automatic discretionary spending cuts instituted by last year's debt-ceiling agreement and replaces those cuts with a different set of reductions to a variety of mandatory spending programs, as well as a reduction on the overall spending limit for all FY 2013 appropriations bills. The bill separately eliminates the cap on defense spending instituted by the debt-limit agreement to accommodate a higher level of spending in that area. The Senate is unlikely to take up this bill. The President has issued a veto threat.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations, FY 2013

Vote Passed (247-163, 21 Not Voting)

This appropriations bill provides $51.1 billion dollars in funding in FY 2013 for the departments of Commerce and Justice and other agencies such as NASA and the National Science Foundation. This funding level would be $1.8 billion less than in FY 2012 and $731 million less than the president requested for the upcoming fiscal year. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the bill on April 19, but floor time has not been scheduled. The President has threatened a veto on the House version.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO


RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*21st Century Postal Service Act of 2012
Vote Passed (62-37, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate passed its U.S. Postal Service overhaul bill. The bill seeks to trim the workforce by about 100,000 employees through attrition and delays efforts to eliminate Saturday delivery and close some post offices. The House has yet to pass its version of the bill. The postmaster estimates the agency needs to trim $22 billion in operating costs to remain in business.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011
Vote Passed (68-31, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act for another five years. The 1994 law gives federal law enforcement agencies tools to combat crime against women. The reauthorization adds provisions relating to Native American and immigrant women, and sexual orientation. The House is likely to pass a bill similar to the current authorization.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act
Vote Passed (248-168, 15 Not Voting)

This House bill directs the Director of National Intelligence to develop procedures to share cyber-threat information on a voluntary basis between the government's intelligence community and the private sector. The White House has threatened to veto the bill.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Interest Rate Reduction Act
Vote Passed (215-195, 22 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill that would keep the interest rate for government-subsidized student loans at 3.4 percent. The rate is scheduled to rise to 6.8 percent on July 1, 2012. To offset the estimated $6 billion cost of maintaining the current interest rate, the bill would repeal the $12 billion Prevention and Public Health Fund which was created by the 2010 health care reform bill. The White House supports keeping the current interest rate, but has threatened to veto this bill.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO


RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Cloture Motion; Paying a Fair Share Act of 2012
Vote Rejected (51-45, 4 Not Voting)

The Senate failed to reach the sixty vote threshold needed to move forward on this bill to raise tax rates on taxpayers earning more than $1 million. This is another of this administration's efforts to propagate class warfare and penalize the productive.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Sportsmen's Heritage Act of 2012
Vote Passed (274-146, 11 Not Voting)

This bill would codify the use of public lands for recreational hunting, shooting and fishing unless the Bureau of Land Management or the Forest Service determines it is necessary to prohibit those activities. The Senate is unlikely to take up the measure.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012, Part II
Vote Passed (293-127, 11 Not Voting)

The House passed this three-month highway and transportation program bill that will serve as the vehicle to negotiate a long-term bill with the Senate. The Senate passed a two-year, $109 billion bill in March. House Republicans would like a five year bill. The current extension runs out June 30, 2012.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Small Business Tax Cut Act

Vote Passed (235-173, 1 Present, 22 Not Voting)

This House bill would give businesses with fewer than 500 employees a 20 percent tax deduction for the 2012 tax year. The bill is unlikely to advance in the Senate.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO


RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*21st Century Postal Service Act of 2011
Vote Rejected (51-46, 3 Not Voting)

This postal overhaul bill did not receive the necessary 60 votes to proceed to debate. The bill would allow the Postal Service to recoup around $11 billion in overpayments to a retirement account and use that money to provide financial incentives to about 100,000 employees to retire, as well as delay the plan to end Saturday delivery for two years.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley who will always side with unions rather than the people voted NO

*Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act
Vote Rejected (51-47, 2 Not Voting)

This legislation would repeal some tax breaks for large oil and gas companies and use the revenue generated by these tax repeals to pay for an extension of renewable-energy tax credits and incentives. It would also have increased the price of fuels and nearly every consumer product on the market. The bill did not receive the necessary 60 votes to end debate and is unlikely to be considered again.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Federal Communications Commission Process Reform Act of 2011
Vote Passed (247-174, 10 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill that would overhaul Federal Communications Commission regulatory procedures and curb the agency’s ability to set conditions on transactions related to corporate mergers and acquisitions. The bill’s future is uncertain.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, always against business, voted NO

*Surface Transportation Extension Act
Vote Passed (266-158, 7 Not Voting)

On Thursday the House passed this bill to extend authorization for surface transportation programs through June 30. The Senate cleared the bill by voice vote later the same day, sending the bill to the president. President Obama signed it the next day. This extension gives the House and Senate more time to negotiate a long-term transportation bill.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Democratic Alternative Budget
Vote Failed (163-262, 6 Not Voting)

The Democrats offered a substitute budget amendment that would provide $1.05 trillion in discretionary spending for fiscal 2013, including $546 billion for defense spending. The amendment includes a permanent extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for the middle class, but would end nearly $1 trillion in tax cuts for millionaires and close a variety of corporate tax loopholes. The amendment was rejected.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

Added 6-12-2012

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*FDA User Fee Reauthorization
Vote Passed (96-1, 3 Not Voting)

After extensive wrangling between the parties about which amendments would be allowed a floor vote, the Senate last week passed a bill to reauthorize Food and Drug Administration user fees for five years. The FDA relies on the fees, levied primarily on the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, to fund reviews of those same industries’ products. Two new user fee programs, for generic and generic biologic drugs, would be created under the bill. The bill would also permanently reauthorize programs to encourage the development of drugs for pediatric patients. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., was the lone “no” vote. He felt the bill did not do enough to lower the cost of prescription drugs (An amendment introduced by John McCain, R-Ariz., to allow importation of prescription drugs from Canada, failed 43-54, Senate Roll Call #108). The House will debate its version of the reauthorization this week. President Obama has endorsed the Senate bill. The current authorization expires September 30, and leaders of both parties have prioritized getting this item to the president well ahead of time.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Student Loan Interest Rates – Republican Substitute
Vote Rejected (34-62, 1 Present, 3 Not Voting)

Part of the deal for bringing the FDA user fee bill to the floor was allowing a vote on the GOP version of legislation to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling. Republicans offered a substitute amendment to a bill that Majority Leader Harry Reid had brought to the floor earlier this month. Closely mirroring bills already passed in the House and introduced previously by the Senate GOP (H.R.4628, S.2366), the substitute would pay for maintaining current interest rates by eliminating a preventive health fund created by the 2010 health care overhaul. An agreement between Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell required 60 votes for passage.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

*Student Loan Interest Rates – Democratic Version
Vote Rejected (51-43, 1 Present, 5 Not Voting)

Immediately after rejecting the Republican substitute, the Senate moved on to rejecting the Democrats’ version. The Democrats would pay for their bill by eliminating a tax preference for certain shareholders of S Corporations. Of course, the Democrats want to increase taxes during a recession that they seem unable or unwilling to address. This is the second time S.2343 was voted on but the first time the bill itself was considered; on May 8 the Republicans successfully filibustered a motion to proceed (Senate Roll Call Number 89). With the House having passed its version, it is up to the Senate to pass a bill that could at least be the basis of some sort of compromise. Rates are set to go up on July 1.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

6-19-2012

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*FDA User Fee Reauthorization
Vote Passed (387-5, 39 Not Voting)

Fresh on the heels of Senate passage, the House last week passed its version of FDA user fee legislation with a show of overwhelming support. The bill would reauthorize the FDA to impose user fees on drug and device manufacturers for five years. Unlike the Senate bill, there was little controversy surrounding the reauthorization in the House, as evidenced by the final vote tally. The bill was considered under suspension of the rules, an expedited procedure requiring a two-thirds majority for passage. At this point the House and Senate will move to conference to iron out a few minor differences. Both chambers have reportedly set a goal of July 4 for getting a final product to the president's desk.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Sex-Selective Abortion Ban
Vote Failed (246-168, 17 Not Voting)

Occasioning considerably more controversy than the FDA bill, the House also considered legislation to criminalize the administering or facilitating of abortions based on the sex of the fetus. The practice, known as sex-selective abortion, has long been associated with countries such as China and India, where social and economic pressures can lead to families to abort females at much higher rates than males. Republicans contend that this practice has reached the United States; Democrats say there is insufficient evidence and that a blanket ban would be unenforceable in any case. Despite garnering majority support, the measure failed because it was considered under suspension of the rules.

Always in favor of taxpayer funded abortions of any kind, Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Intelligence Authorization
Vote Passed (386-28, 17 Not Voting)

The House passed legislation to authorize funding for the 16 intelligence agencies last week. Although total funding levels are classified, the bill would fund agencies such as the CIA and National Security Agency at a level above President Obama's request of $71.8 billion, according to Intelligence committee chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich. and ranking member C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md. A handful of amendments were adopted during debate, including one offered by Michigan Democrat John Conyers, Jr. to require a report from the director of national intelligence on the consequences of a military strike against Iran. The Senate has not yet moved on its authorization bill, but action is expected at the committee level sometime this summer.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Military Construction-Veterans Affairs Appropriations
Vote Passed (407-12, 12 Not Voting)

The House passed its second FY13 appropriations bill last week, providing funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs and for military construction and housing. The bill would provide $71.7 billion in discretionary funds, including $60.6 billion for the VA and $10.6 billion for base construction and military family housing. A provision forbidding agencies from using project labor agreements (PLA) for construction projects was removed from the bill by an amendment from Michael G. Grimm, R-N.Y. (Roll Call #302). The PLA language was controversial among most Democrats and a handful of Republicans; its removal sped passage of what is usually a strongly bipartisan bill. President Obama threatened to veto the bill because the House GOP has set total FY13 appropriations levels below what had been agreed to in last year's debt-ceiling standoff. Because the House kept funding levels in this bill constant with last year, deeper cuts will be necessary in other appropriations bills, which the administration views as unacceptable.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES


RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Paul Budget Resolution
Vote Rejected (16-83, 1 Not Voting)

This budget resolution from Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., would set new FY 2013 budget authority at $3.084 trillion. According to the Senator, his resolution would balance the budget in five years and cut the national deficit by $2 trillion over ten years. It introduces means-testing requirements to Social Security and raises the retirement age to 70 by 2032. It would also means-test Medicare and raise the age of eligibility to 70 over a 20-year window. Senior citizens would be permitted to enroll in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan used by congressional Members and staff. The resolution would set a flat tax rate of 17 percent for all individuals and businesses and eliminate all credits and deductions except the child credit and mortgage interest deduction.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

*Lee Budget Resolution
Vote Rejected (17-82, 1 Not Voting)

The budget resolution from Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, would set new FY 2013 budget authority at $3.269 trillion. It purports to balance the budget by 2017 through myriad changes to entitlements and the tax code as well as reducing spending to 17.8 percent of GDP over ten years. It would establish a single 25% tax rate for individuals and businesses while eliminating the payroll, estate, and any investment taxes. Social Security would be means-tested and the retirement age would rise to 68. Medicare participants would be able to enroll in a “premium-support” or voucher program. Total Medicare spending would be capped at the level of the Consumer Price Index plus one percent. Medicaid would become a block grant program.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

**Ed. Note: Have you noticed how Wyden and Merkley are opposed to anything that might balance the budget and curtail the growth of entitlements?

*Agency Confirmation
Vote Confirmed (70-24, 6 Not Voting)

The Senate voted to confirm the nomination of Jeremy C. Stein of Massachusetts to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted Not Voting

*Agency Confirmation
Vote Confirmed (74-21, 5 Not Voting)

The Senate voted to confirm the nomination of Jerome H. Powell of Maryland to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Export-Import Bank Reauthorization
Vote Passed (78-20, 2 Not Voting)

This bill would extend the charter of the Export-Import Bank of the United States through FY 2014. It would allow the bank’s lending limit to rise incrementally to $140 billion (from $100 billion currently). Following House passage last week, the Senate cleared this bill for the president’s signature, narrowly avoiding the May 31 expiration of the bank’s charter. Passage followed several failed amendment votes, among them a vote to terminate the bank within one year.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*“Obama” Budget Resolution
Vote Rejected (0-99, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate unanimously rejected this budget resolution, which was the GOP’s interpretation of President Obama’s FY 13 budget proposal. It would set new FY 2013 budget authority at $2.982 trillion. This marks the second time Senate Republicans have introduced what they call the president’s budget for a floor vote, and the second time the proposal has failed to garner a single “yea” vote. This was the first of five budget resolutions the Senate voted on last week, each one a “messaging” vote since both chambers have already set spending levels for their respective FY 13 appropriations bills.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

*Ryan Budget Resolution
Vote Rejected (41-58, 1 Not Voting)

In another reprisal of last year’s budget theater, the House-passed budget drafted by Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., failed in a party-line Senate vote. The resolution would set new FY 2013 budget authority at $2.794 trillion. As happened last year, all Democrats voted “nay” along with Independents Bernard Sanders (Vt.) and Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.). All Republicans voted “yea” with the exceptions of Sens. Scott P. Brown (Mass.), Susan Collins (Maine), Dean Heller (Nev.), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Olympia J. Snowe (Maine).

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

*Toomey Budget Resolution
Vote Rejected (42-57, 1 Not Voting)

This budget resolution introduced by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. would set new FY 2013 budget authority at $2.843 trillion. It purports to create a balanced budget within eight years, in part by reducing spending to about 18.3 percent of GDP. It would also create a two-thirds supermajority requirement for votes to exceed discretionary spending levels set forth in the resolution and a three-fifths supermajority to make any advance appropriation unless the latter are for a handful of accounts at the Veterans Affairs Administration.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization
Vote Passed (222-205, 4 Not Voting)

The House last week passed its version of a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Originally passed in 1994, the bill had been reauthorized twice without controversy until this year. The Senate version (S 1925), passed April 26, created several new provisions to which the House objected, such as expanding protections to include LGBT victims. President Obama has threatened to veto the House bill. While it looked like the two bills were headed to a conference committee following House passage, it was discovered late last week that the Senate bill contained a revenue-raising provision, causing the House to raise constitutional objections. The path forward at this point is not clear.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Suspension Vote: Iran Sanctions Resolution
Vote Passed (401-11, 9 Present, 10 Not Voting)

In a shot across the bow of world leaders gathered last weekend for the G8 Summit, the House loudly expressed its position on Iran. While reiterating that it is a “vital national interest” of the United States to prevent Iran from acquiring a “nuclear capability,” the resolution also comes down firmly against any proposed “containment” policy. Debate has raged about what U.S. “red lines” are with regard to Iran’s uranium enrichment program, and there is some question as to what exactly a “nuclear capability” would mean. If it means having a certain amount of enriched uranium, for example, that is a much different standard than having the ability to arm a missile with a nuclear warhead. Perhaps with that in mind, the resolution also demands that Iran end its ballistic missile program.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted Present. In other words, he is gutless on national security.

*Flood Insurance Extension
Vote Passed (402-18, 11 Not Voting)

Hoping to avoid a May 31 expiration date, the House passed a short-term extension of the National Flood Insurance Program. The bill would extend the program’s authorization through June 30, allowing homeowners living in flood zones to purchase private insurance. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., attempted to pass a different extension last week by unanimous consent, but Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., objected. Republicans in both chambers want a complete overhaul of the program in exchange for a multi-year extension.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*National Defense Authorization, FY 2013
Vote Passed (299-120, 12 Not Voting)

The House passed its version of the annual defense policy bill last week following two days of debate and dozens of amendments. The bill would provide $643 billion for FY 13, including $88.5 billion for the war in Afghanistan. The topline figure exceeds agreed-upon spending levels from last year’s Budget Control Act (PL 112-25) by $8 billion. Amendment debate ranged widely, from the sale of fighter jets to Taiwan to the detention of terrorism suspects arrested on U.S. soil. President Obama has issued a veto threat on this bill. The Senate Armed Services Committee is slated to mark up its version this week.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO to further prove he is gutless on national security.

6-29-2012

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Wage Discrimination
Vote Rejected (52-47, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate failed to invoke cloture last week on a motion to proceed to a bill that would provide additional legal recourse to individuals who experience gender-based wage discrimination. Among other provisions, the bill would have allowed employees to sue for punitive damages (as opposed to just back pay) and would increase penalties against employers who engage in wage discrimination based on gender. The measure would also make it illegal for employers to retaliate against workers for talking about their wages with each others. Republicans decried the bill as unnecessary and a boon to trial lawyers, while Democrats continued to hammer their election-year theme of the GOP being out of touch with women. The President expressed strong support for the bill.

To further their efforts to penalize businesses and job creation:

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Farm Bill
Vote Agreed to (90-8, 2 Not Voting)

After much talk about a revolt among Southern senators, the Senate easily invoked cloture on a motion to proceed to its version of the multi-year reauthorization of farm and nutrition programs. Battle lines have been drawn between the Agriculture committee’s top two members, Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. and Ranking Member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and about a dozen Southern senators. Stabenow and Roberts have drawn up a bill that eliminates about $5 billion in annual direct payments to farmers and replaces it with a "shallow loss" program that would replace revenue losses of 11 to 21 percent below a five-year average. Southern senators object that this program would be of little help to their farmers, whose rice, peanut and cotton crops are less subject to natural disaster than wheat and corn but more subject to price fluctuation. Southerners are demanding some form of guaranteed price protection. Another battle will center around funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Both the Senate and House Agriculture committees have proposed SNAP cuts, with much larger cuts expected to come out of the House. Democrats in both houses are opposed to these cuts. The House has yet to mark up its version of the bill, and there is some question over whether it will happen later in the summer or not at all. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., Ranking Democratic on House Ag, has expressed confidence the measure will come to the floor, but a "summer agenda" memo distributed by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. made no mention of it. President Obama has backed the Senate bill.

One must ask, why is government using taxpayer dollars to subsidize ANY type of business?

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Motion to Table; Farm Bill – Sugar Price Supports Repeal
Vote Agreed to (50-46, 4 Not Voting)

Last week saw the Senate struggling to come to agreement on which amendments it would consider to the five-year reauthorization of agriculture and nutrition programs. The first such amendment - offered by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on behalf of Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. – would phase out the federal price support program for sugar producers by 2015. Detractors of the program argue that it artificially inflates prices for consumers and end-users, such as confectioners. The program’s backers argue that it actually shields both of these groups from violent swings in market prices by providing a supportive environment for domestic sugar production. The actual vote taken, however, was not on the amendment itself but on a motion to table. The motion passed, thus killing the amendment.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

*Motion to Table; Farm Bill – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Elimination
Vote Agreed to (65-33, 2 Not Voting)

The second amendment brought up for consideration concerned federal nutrition assistance, known by its acronym SNAP. Republicans have raised the alarm that spending under this program has ballooned in recent years and have sought to cut benefits. Democrats have countered that the program is actually functioning as it was designed to do, with more people coming on the rolls because of a weak economy. A “sequester-replacement” bill (H.R. 5652) passed last month in the House mostly along party lines would cut $34 billion from SNAP in the next 10 years as part of an effort to avoid Pentagon cuts. This Senate amendment, again offered by Reid (this time on behalf of Rand Paul, R-Ky.), would do House Republicans one better by ending SNAP as it currently exists and in its place creating a block grant program that would send a fixed amount of money to the states each year for the overall purpose of nutrition assistance, but with far fewer strings attached than there are currently. The actual vote was once again on a motion to table rather than the amendment itself.

Again, both our senators are all in favor of spending money we don't have.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Energy-Water Appropriations
Vote Passed (255-165, 11 Not Voting)

The House passed three FY 2013 appropriations bills last week, the first of which covered funding for the Department of Energy (DOE), Army Corps of Engineers and water development projects under the Interior Department, as well as various independent agencies including the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. This is typically a non-controversial measure, but that did not stop Members from forcing nearly three dozen amendment votes on the floor. Most of these involved either shifting funds from one program area to another or barring funding for an activity disliked by a particular Member. Very few amendments passed. The underlying bill would increase funding for DOE’s nuclear weapons programs by $298 million and cut the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) account within the Energy Department by $428 million. Several Democratic amendments attempted to restore EERE funding, but each was turned aside. The bill would also prohibit the closure of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste depository, a priority of President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. The President has issued a veto threat on the measure.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Medical Device Tax Repeal
Vote Passed (270-146, 15 Not Voting)

House Republicans, with the help of 37 Democrats, passed a bill last week repealing the 2.3-percent tax on medical devices that was included as a pay-for in the 2010 health care overhaul. Bundled into the device tax repeal bill was a separate measure ending the overhaul’s restriction on using certain tax-preferred accounts to buy over-the-counter drugs, and a third provision allowing individuals to recoup up to $500 remaining in their FSAs at the end of a plan year. The measure would be paid for by lifting caps on liability for over-payments of subsidized coverage under the overhaul. President Obama has threatened to veto the measure. Senator Scott P. Brown, R-Mass. and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah have introduced device tax repeal bills in the upper chamber, neither of which has attracted Democratic cosponsors.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Homeland Security Appropriations
Vote Passed (234-182, 15 Not Voting)

Second on the appropriations docket last week was funding for the Department of Homeland Security. Several provisions in the House measure have caused consternation among House Democrats and the Administration. These include a new limitation on the ability of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials to provide abortions for detainees and cuts to a program that provides alternatives (such as electronic monitoring) to detention for individuals who are in deportation proceedings. Sure to cause additional heartburn for Democrats is an amendment offered by Steve King, R-Iowa to bar funding for the Administration’s "prosecutorial discretion" policy in targeting certain illegal immigrants for deportation. The policy, dating to June 2011, instructs ICE personnel to focus their resources on individuals with criminal records and to “consider relevant factors” before targeting certain others, including members of the armed forces, those who came to the United States as children, and high school and college graduates. Republicans have called this policy "administrative amnesty." King’s amendment passed, mostly along party lines (Roll Call #363). The president has threatened to veto the bill.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO since he is in favor of the taxpayers paying for abortions and other benefits to illegals.

*Legislative Branch Appropriations
Vote Passed (307-102, 22 Not Voting)

Last but not least (at least not for lawmakers), the House passed its measure funding FY 13 spending on legislative branch operations. The measure provides funding for Member and committee offices and operations of agencies such as the Library of Congress, Capitol Police, Congressional Research Service (CRS), and Government Accountability Office (GAO). The House bill would cut funding for House operations by one percent, hold CRS flat and give bumps of six, two, and one percent to the Capitol Police, GAO and the Congressional Budget Office respectively. A 10 percent cut to the Architect of the Capitol means that ongoing restoration of the Capitol dome would be placed on hold. Funding for Senate operations will be taken up by the Senate Appropriations committee.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

7-6-2012

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Motion to Proceed; Disapproval Resolution – EPA Regulations
Vote Rejected (46-53, 1 Not Voting)

The latest battle in the EPA’s "war on coal" came with an attempt to halt rules intended to further limit emissions of mercury and other toxins by coal and oil-fired utilities, among other sources. Led by James Inhofe, R-Okla., most Republicans argue that the EPA has overstepped its authority and is endangering both the livelihood of coal-dependent regions and even the reliability of the electricity grid. Five Democrats and five Republicans each voted with the other side. The president had threatened a veto of this measure. Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn, and Mark Pryor, D-Ark. are reportedly working on a bill that would lengthen the compliance time line of the new rules rather than stopping them outright.

Wyden and Merkley, as usual, are not concerned with the cost of energy to consumers.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

*Farm Bill – Final Passage
Vote Passed (64-35, 1 Not Voting)

Following a binge of amendment votes (41 in all) over three days of debate, the Senate passed its version of a five-year agriculture and nutrition policy bill. After coming to agreement on which amendments would be given floor time, the “vote-a-rama” began in earnest, culminating in final passage (the same agreement required 60 votes for the bill to pass). At the heart of the sprawling, $969 billion bill is an overhaul of the farm safety net. Direct and counter-cyclical payments are out, their critics having successfully argued that they manipulated markets and were unnecessary at a time of sky-high commodity prices. Bill sponsors Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. and Pat Roberts, R-Kan., opted for a lighter touch, creating two new crop insurance policies and a subsidy program meant to backstop traditional insurance. These changes have sparked regional disagreements, with Midwest and Great Plains senators supporting the changes and those from the South vehemently opposed. Southerners have been insisting that a program maintaining target prices is necessary to protect their rice and peanut growers, who are less subject to yield volatility and so less dependent on traditional insurance. It is expected that the House bill will have the types of provisions the Southerners are asking for. Two amendments would make changes long sought after by crop insurance critics. The first, from Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga. would force policyholders to abide by the same conservation requirements that are currently tied to crop subsidies. The other, offered by Dick Durbin, D-Ill. and Tom Coburn, R-Okla. would raise subsidized premiums for farmers with AGI above $750,000/year, pending a USDA study. Another major plank of the underlying bill is a roughly $4.5 billion reduction in food stamps. The program has come under fire from Republicans for its rapid expansion in recent years and the bill has specific provisions banning lottery winners from eligibility and stopping automatic enrollment of persons receiving heating assistance. The ball is now in the House's court, and a markup is scheduled for July 11. President Obama has previously backed the Senate bill, though he called for more cuts than the upper chamber could stomach. One must question WHY are the taxpayers subsidizing ANY private business.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Cloture – Flood Insurance Reauthorization
Vote Agreed to (96-2, 2 Not Voting)

This was a successful cloture vote on the motion to proceed to a multi-year reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The program has been in the red since having to make huge payouts for Hurricanes Rita, Katrina and Wilma and negotiations have been going on for months on a path forward that would bring NFIP to a position of long-term fiscal health. At this point there appears to be a tentative agreement, but at least one outstanding bone of contention concerns whether properties protected by levees and other flood-control structures should be required to buy insurance. (The House's long-term bill, HR 5740, does not have this requirement.) The current extension expires July 31. If coverage is allowed to lapse, homeowners in flood-prone areas will be unable to buy insurance or renew policies.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Land and Water Projects
Vote Passed (232-188, 12 Not Voting)

The House passed two smorgasbord bills that combined a number of disparate provisions under one legislative roof. The first bill concerned regulations on federal lands. Among other things, it would allow the usage of recreational vehicles in Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina’s Outer Banks; grant tracts of land in the Tongass National Forest to the Native Alaskan-run Sealaska Corporation, partially for logging purposes; and permit the "taking" of California sea lions, which have been preying on lucrative and fragile salmon populations in the Columbia River. The most contentious provision would waive 16 environmental and conservation laws on federal land within 100 miles of the Mexican and Canadian borders. Under the bill, these laws would not apply to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in their anti-terror and immigration enforcement missions. CBP would be allowed to build roads, fences and surveillance equipment without regard to such laws as the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act. President Obama opposes this bill.

Of course, since this bill involved relaxation of environmental laws for national security purposes,

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Domestic Energy Policy
Vote Passed (248-163, 21 Not Voting)

The second catch-all measure combined several provisions aimed at boosting domestic energy production. Drawdowns from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve would be coupled with an equivalent percentage of federal land being made available for oil and gas production. Various EPA rules would be suspended while a new task force studies their effect on gas prices. A process similar to the Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review would be created to examine America's long-term energy needs. Permitting for energy projects would be streamlined, including the creation of a $5,000 fee for filing protests against drilling permits. The bill would also allow live auctions conducted over the Internet for Bureau of Land Management leases and would mandate oil and gas leasing in Alaska's National Petroleum Reserve. Democrats offered a motion to recommit that would have prohibited the biggest oil companies from receiving new leases under the bill unless they waived certain tax benefits. Not surprisingly that idea didn't have legs with Republicans. Conversely, the bill itself will go nowhere with the Democratic Senate. If it does somehow pass both houses, the president has issued a veto threat.

Again, since environmental protection is more important than anything else, including energy costs to consumers,

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Motion to Instruct Conferees – Highway Bill
Vote Passed (260-138, 34 Not Voting)

Late last week it appeared that there was momentum toward agreement on passage of a two-year surface transportation reauthorization measure. Supposedly Senate negotiators have made concessions to House demands on issues such as environmental permitting and transportation enhancements funding. Another point of contention has been the potential regulation by EPA of coal ash, a byproduct of coal combustion that road builders in some states use when making asphalt. House negotiators have insisted on pre-empting EPA and allowing states to regulate coal ash as they see fit. This House vote would insist on a measure to that effect being included in any final highway bill.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

NOTE: On the recent vote in the House of Representatives to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in Contempt of Congress for refusing to provide documents regarding the illegal sale of firearms and allowing them to be transported to Mexico by drug cartels, DeFazio voted against the contempt charge. To DeFazio, partisanship is much more important than the rule of law.

7-14-2012

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*FDA User Fees – Final Passage
Vote Agreed to (92-4, 4 Not Voting)

The Senate last week cleared a compromise version of FDA user fee legislation, paving the way for President Obama’s signature. The five-year reauthorization measure allows the FDA to charge the industries it oversees a fee to finance the approval process for medical devices and prescription drugs. The bill will also create new fee programs for generic drugs and generic biologic drugs. Final passage in the Senate followed about a month of negotiations after each chamber passed slightly differing bills in late May. As with everything coming through the Senate these days, a cloture vote was needed before voting on the underlying bill.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Highway/Flood Insurance/Student Loan Package – Adoption of Conference Report
Vote Agreed to (74-19, 1 Present, 6 Not Voting)

After months of speculation about whether any of the highway, flood insurance, or student loan bills would become law this year, all three cleared the Senate as a single package last week. The final agreement combined a 27-month reauthorization of highway, transit and transportation safety programs; a one-year extension of lowered interest rates on federally-subsidized Stafford loans; and a five-year reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

The surface transportation component featured by far the most drama of the three provisions, as the fight surrounding it lasted far longer, dating back to last year. More importantly (at least outside the Beltway) infrastructure spending will provide a much-needed shot in the arm for the construction industry and hopefully the broader economy. The bill makes several major changes to existing transportation law, including streamlining project approval, drastically reducing the number of federal programs through consolidation, and giving states more spending flexibility on certain types of projects.

The NFIP measure is designed to bring the program back into solvency following years of indebtedness. Payouts resulting from the devastating Gulf Coast hurricanes in 2005-6 had left the program roughly $18 billion in debt. The new law will raise premiums overall and cover more homeowners.

The combined measures would be paid for largely by two changes to pension law. The first would change the formula by which employers contribute to their employees’ defined benefit plans. The second would increase employer premiums on insurance provided by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, a federal entity that insures private sector defined benefit pension plans. A third offset would shorten the amount of time students are eligible for an in-school interest subsidy on their loans.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Contempt Resolution
Vote Passed (255-67, 1 Present, 109 Not Voting)

Last week the House voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, the first time in American history either house has held a Cabinet member in contempt. An accompanying measure was also passed, authorizing the Oversight and Government Reform Committee to intervene in judicial proceedings in order to enforce its subpoenas. The vote was the culmination of well over a year’s worth of congressional investigation and stonewalling, regarding a failed “gun-walking” operation overseen by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The operation allowed firearms to “walk” into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, with the intent of tracking the guns and locating the cartels, whose movements are difficult to trace. It was also revealed through e-mails obtained through the investigation that this was an effort by the Obama Administration to use these illegal firearms transactions to implement more restrictive firearms laws against American citizens. Weapons bought through the operations were later used in the murder of a Border Patrol agent, Brian Terry. The subject of the contempt vote, however, has specifically to do with a very narrow set of documents demanded by House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif. from the Department of Justice (DOJ). DOJ has already announced they will not prosecute Holder, so House Republicans are expected to try their hand in civil court.

Since he is more interested in protecting this administration and partisan politics,

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*FY13 Transportation-HUD Appropriations – Final Passage
Vote Passed (261-163, 8 Not Voting)

The House passed its annual transportation spending measure in addition to a transportation policy measure last week. The bill, which also provides funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), would provide $51.6 billion in discretionary spending for FY2013 ($103.6 billion when including spending from the transportation trust funds. In direct contradiction to the highway bill, which passed the House just minutes after the appropriations measure, an amendment from GOP freshman Rep. Jeff Landry, R-La. was included in the final bill text that would prohibit the Transportation Department from requiring that commercial trucks install on-board electronic recording devices to track hours of use. The highway bill, by contrast, mandates the installation of such devices. The bill also provides no funding for Obama’s favored TIGER grants and high-speed rail initiatives. On the housing side, the bill would increase funding for Community Development Block Grants but cut funding for rental assistance. The Senate Appropriations committee passed its bill in April, but no spending measure has made it to the Senate floor this year. The president has threatened to veto the House bill, objecting primarily to its overall funding level, but also to a few particulars such as those mentioned above.

Once again, partisanship is the primary agenda so

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Highway/Flood Insurance/Student Loan Package – Adoption of Conference Report
Vote Passed (373-52, 7 Not Voting)

The House passed the conference report for the Highway/Flood Insurance/Student Loan Package shortly before the Senate.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

7-27-2012

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Campaign Financial Disclosures – Cloture
Vote Rejected (51-44, 5 Not Voting)

The Senate took up legislation that would require greater disclosure of donations. The measure would require groups to disclose all expenditures of $10,000 or more on election-related communications, as well as the names of contributors that give $10,000 or more to fund such efforts. An exemption would be provided for segregated accounts set up by groups that contribute to operations besides election-related independent campaigns, thereby excluding public employee unions and other unions, organizations such as NAACP, Planned Parenthood, etc. On July 16, the Senate rejected the initial cloture motion, 51-44. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., subsequently filed a motion to reconsider that vote, which allowed the Senate to vote again.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Campaign Financial Disclosures – Cloture
Vote Rejected (53-45, 2 Not Voting)

The next attempt at closure came a day later. The resulting 53-45 vote again fell strictly along party lines. Sixty votes were required for cloture on proceeding to the measure, which is known as the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections, or DISCLOSE, Act.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Outsourcing Tax Credits – Cloture
Vote Rejected (56-42, 2 Not Voting)

Current tax law allows for the cost of moving jobs overseas to be deducted as a business expense. S. 3664, sponsored by Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., would end that tax break while continuing to allow a deduction for jobs returned to this country or moved within the United States. The bill would provide an additional tax credit for 20 percent of the cost of moving jobs back to the United States. On July 19, the Senate rejected, 56-42, a motion to take up the bill. The motion fell four votes short of the 60 needed to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed made by Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Four Republican Senators, Scott P. Brown of Massachusetts, Susan Collins and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, and Dean Heller of Nevada voted with all participating Democrats to take up the legislation. No further action is scheduled on the bill.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Foreign Relations Authorization - Passage
Vote Passed (333-61, 37 Not Voting)

The House last week passed a fiscal 2013 foreign relations authorization measure that would maintain basic funding and is silent on controversial issues that have held up previous authorizations. Most accounts in the new bill would be authorized at the same level as the fiscal 2012 law (PL 112-74). And most of the bill’s provisions do not involve the authorization of bilateral or development assistance, such as specific aid levels for Israel, Egypt and other nations. The bill was designed to win over enough backers to advance further than last year’s contentious proposal, which never moved beyond Foreign Affairs Committee approval. In last week’s floor vote, 60 Republicans and one Democrat voted no. The bill passed under suspension of the rules, meaning that a two-thirds majority was required for passage.

Rep. Peter DeFazio did not vote on this bill

*Sequestration Report - Passage
Vote Passed (414-2, 15 Not Voting)

By an overwhelming vote of 414-12 on July 18, the House backed a measure that would pressure the Obama administration to detail how agencies would implement the cuts, known as a sequester, that are scheduled to hit on January 2, 2013. The sequester was mandated by the August 2011 debt limit deal (PL 112-25). The bill would require the White House to produce a report within 30 days with a detailed account of how the cuts would affect both domestic and defense programs.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Defense Appropriations – Passage
Vote Passed (326-90, 15 Not Voting)

The House passed a $606 billion Defense spending bill last week that would fund the Pentagon and national security programs in fiscal 2013. The total includes $87.7 billion for the war in Afghanistan and other overseas operations. Although the House rejected numerous attempts to cut the defense budget, lawmakers did agree to freeze Pentagon spending at last year’s level. Before passing the bill, the House adopted, 247-167, an amendment by Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., that would retain the fiscal 2012 defense spending level, a reduction of over $1 billion from the amount originally proposed in the bill. Overall, the appropriations bill, as amended, would provide $518.1 billion for the Pentagon’s base budget, the same as the fiscal 2012 level and $2 billion more than President Obama’s request. It would provide a 1.7 percent pay increase for military personnel, matching Obama’s request. The House rejected, 171-243, an amendment sponsored by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., that would have reduced the bill’s funding by $7.6 billion, dropping it to the amount authorized under the 2011 debt limit law (PL 112-25). The Obama administration has threatened to veto the bill primarily over the funding levels, saying that directing more money than planned under last year’s law to the Pentagon would "necessitate significant and harmful cuts" to domestic programs.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

8-3-2012

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Tax Cut Extension – Republican Substitute
Vote Rejected (45-54, 1 Not Voting)

Following President Obama's call January 9 to let the Bush tax cuts lapse on personal income above $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples, the Senate put itself on record last week by voting on the president's proposal and a Republican alternative. The Republican substitute amendment, offered by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., would have extended current rates for all income levels for one year. It also would have allowed a business property tax deduction up to $500,000, extended current estate tax levels for one year and a created "patch" for the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) covering both 2012 and 2013.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

*Tax Cut Extension – Passage
Vote Passed (51-48, 1 Not Voting)

Following defeat of the substitute amendment, the Senate passed the president's preferred version of the bill. In addition to the income tax provisions, the bill would allow rates on capital gains and dividends to rise from 15 to 20 percent; allow business property deductions up to $250,000; extend the college tuition tax credit and child tax credit; and patch the AMT for 2012. The roll calls for both tax bills were noteworthy in that they took place under simple majority rules, an increasingly rare occurrence in the Senate. The House is scheduled to consider a bill (HR 8) more along the lines of the Senate Republican alternative, though Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, stated that he would allow a vote on the president's proposal as well.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Cybersecurity – Cloture
Vote Agreed to (84-11, 5 Not Voting)

After agreement was reached on allowing amendments, the Senate voted last week to invoke cloture on a compromise cybersecurity bill. One of the amendments is by Sen. Charles Schumer D-NY which would re-establish the so-called assault weapons ban similar to the one passed during the Clinton administration. Democrats' preferred bill (S. 2105), introduced in February by Homeland Security Committee chair Joe Lieberman, I-Ct., would have established a definition for "critical infrastructure" and mandated that private entities who own or oversee such infrastructure establish minimum security standards. This provision drew intense opposition from business interests, leading Republicans to introduce an alternative proposal, which has since been revamped (S. 3342). The bill under consideration would forego mandating action and instead create incentives for businesses to meet security standards. S. 3342 is still expected to be offered on the floor as a substitute amendment, and the underlying bill’s prospects for passage remain uncertain. The House passed a bill (H.R. 3523) in April that did not address the critical infrastructure issue in a substantial way, instead focusing on information-sharing between government and industry. The Senate bills address the latter issue as well, though each bill takes a different approach. President Obama has endorsed the Senate compromise and threatened to veto the House-passed bill.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Tribal Land Leases – Suspension
Vote Failed (222-160, 49 Not Voting)

Last week the House failed to suspend the rules and adopt a bill that would have allowed up to six Native American tribes or tribal consortia to participate in a demonstration project that would have allowed for the leasing of tribal land to private entities from Turkey and other WTO countries without prior approval from the Interior Department. In order to suspend the rules, a two-thirds majority must support passage of a bill.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Levee Construction – Suspension
Vote Failed (126-254, 51 Not Voting)

Another suspension bill that failed to gain the necessary two-thirds was this Senate-passed measure. The bill would have allowed certain communities in North Dakota to construct levees on land otherwise set aside as flood plains.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Oil and Gas Drilling – Passage
Vote Passed (253-170, 8 Not Voting)

House Republicans, along with some crossover support from pro-drilling Democrats, passed a bill last week that would replace the Obama administrations 2012-2017 Outer Continental Shelf drilling plan with a more expansive proposal. The House alternative would nearly double the number of drilling leases, from 15 to 29 and it would include drilling off the coasts of California, Virginia, and South Carolina. In an effort to expedite leasing, the bill would also instruct the Interior Department to prepare a single environmental impact statement for all of the covered leases, rather than separate statements for each lease. President Obama has threatened to veto the proposal.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Federal Reserve Audit – Suspension
Vote Passed (327-98, 6 Not Voting)

This bill to audit the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve and the federal reserve banks easily cleared the two-thirds hurdle. The measure, long championed by Texas Republican Ron Paul, instructs the Comptroller General of the United States to complete the audit before year’s end and report his findings to Congress. The bill is unlikely to be taken up in the Senate.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Regulatory Overhaul
Vote Passed (245-172, 14 Not Voting)

Republicans passed a bill containing a suite of changes to current regulatory rules. The biggest change would place a moratorium on so-called "significant regulatory actions" - defined as rules that would cost the economy more than $50 million – until the national unemployment rate is six percent or lower. The bill would also ban the promulgation of "midnight rules" introduced by outgoing administrations after electoral defeat. The agency practice of settling with litigants in order to reach a compromise rule – labeled "sue-settle" by detractors – would be limited. Environmental permitting would be streamlined. Nearly two dozen amendments were offered, mostly by Democrats seeking to carve out exemptions for certain types of rules concerning matters such as workplace safety or drinking water standards. The bill is unlikely to be taken up in the Senate.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

11-2012

*Veterans Job Training – Motion to Waive
Vote Rejected (58-40, 2 Not Voting)

The Senate spent much of last week working on this bill that would have created a so-called jobs corps to assist Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in finding post-service employment. After invoking cloture on a motion to proceed to the bill, a substitute amendment by Veterans Affairs Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., was introduced. Among other things, the amendment would have required states to issue certain licenses, such as for plumbing or truck driving, to veterans without the normal requirements if eligible applicants had at least 10 years experience in related military activities. Budget Committee Ranking Member Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., raised a point of order against the amendment that its costs exceeded the amount of funding allowed under current budgetary limitations. Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., then moved to waive the point of order, which would have allowed the amendment to be debated. 60 votes are required to waive budgetary points of order, however, and proponents of the bill fell two votes shy. Sustaining the point of order effectively killed the bill.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Foreign Aid Suspension
Vote Rejected (10-81, 9 Not Voting)

Despite only having one must-pass item to clear before recessing – namely a continuing resolution to keep the government running, the Senate was in session into the wee hours of Saturday morning. This was initially due to the insistence of Rand Paul, R-Ky., on getting a vote for his bill to suspend foreign aid to Pakistan, Libya, and Egypt. Eventually an agreement was reached to hold a vote on the bill, which was soundly defeated due to bipartisan opposition. It seems that a majority of Senators, including Wyden and Merkley believe we should continue sending taxpayer dollars to barbarians who seek the overthrow of America and the de4ath of American citizens.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

*Iran Nuclear Threat
Vote Agreed to (90-1, 9 Not Voting)

This resolution from Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., would reaffirm U.S. opposition to the Iranian nuclear program and states that the current regime of diplomacy and sanctions must continue until Iran meets certain benchmarks. These benchmarks include suspension of uranium enrichment, compliance with United Nations Security Council resolutions and full cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog. The resolution pointedly states that none of its language constitutes an authorization for the use of force. Rand Paul was the lone “nay” vote.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Continuing Resolution
Vote Agreed to (62-30, 8 Not Voting)

After rejecting the Paul foreign aid measure and passing the Graham Iran resolution, the Senate was able to take up the continuing resolution that would fund government operations for the next six months at more or less flat levels (funding would increase by 0.6 percent for most programs.) This resolution is necessary since the U.S. Senate, under Democrat control, has for three years refused to pass an annual budget as required by the U.S. Constitution.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Minnesota Land Exchange
Vote Passed (225-189, 15 Not Voting)

This bill would facilitate a land exchange between the federal government and the state of Minnesota. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area wilderness in northern Minnesota is currently segmented by state-owned lands; the bill would instruct the secretary of Agriculture to exchange unspecified federal land elsewhere within the state for about 86,000 acres of state-held land in the wilderness. The bill is controversial among House Democrats because it bypasses normal processes for environmental review and land value appraisal and would grandfather in certain activities such as hunting and fishing on the land being converted from state to federal. (Hunting and fishing are normally prohibited in federal wilderness areas.) A handful of Democratic amendments to reverse these changes were defeated. The bill's prospects in the Senate are unclear.

Since he is in the pocket of environmentalists and can't stand the people having free access to THEIR land:

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Government Surveillance Authorities
Vote Passed (301-118, 10 Not Voting)

This bill reauthorizes the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) through 2017. FISA permits the Attorney General and Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to authorize warrantless surveillance of foreign terrorism suspects who are based overseas. The law sets the rules of the road, broadly speaking, for intelligence agencies engaged in these spying activities. The bill prohibits the spying power from being used to target persons in the United States, and the program is subject to oversight by the congressional Judiciary and Intelligence committees and a special court. Almost all Republicans voting backed passage, while a majority of Democrats (111) voted against the bill. Senate Intelligence committee chair Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has been pushing for reauthorization in the other chamber, but has met resistance from fellow committee member Ron Wyden, D-Ore. Wyden wants to know how many American citizens have been targeted by the spy program and has placed a hold on the Senate's reauthorization measure until he has an answer. The White House strongly backs the bill.

Because he doesn't support on our ability to defend ourselves from terrorists:

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Sequestration Replacement
Vote Passed (223-196, 10 Not Voting)

There is increasing concern in Congress over the looming "sequester," or automatic spending cuts, slated to begin on January 2, 2013. These cuts were triggered after the so-called "supercommittee" created by last year's debt-ceiling deal failed to find $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction. Republicans have expressed particular concern over the cuts to defense spending, which would amount to roughly $500 billion over 10 years without changes to current law. H.R. 6365, the National Security and Job Protection Act, represents the second attempt by the House to replace the sequester. (The first sequester replacement bill, H.R. 5652, Roll Call 247, was passed in May.) The bill instructs President Obama to submit to Congress by October 15 a plan to replace all discretionary and mandatory defense spending cuts (but not domestic mandatory cuts to programs such as Medicare) scheduled to occur next year. Such a plan could not include any revenue increases. Upon enactment of the replacement cuts, the overall level of authorized spending for FY 2013 would be reduced by $19 billion, which would bring the total amount in line with the House Republican budget resolution passed in April. Finally, the bill would eliminate the separate caps on defense and non-defense spending for subsequent years of the sequester, potentially allowing increases in defense spending even as the rest of the budget is reduced. The president has threatened to veto the bill, though it will likely not be brought up in the Senate anyway.

Since he doesn't believe America should remain strong and able to defend itself,

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Continuing Resolution
Vote Passed (329-91, 9 Not Voting)

The only "must-pass" bill on the congressional ledger before election season fully takes over is a measure to fund the government beyond September 30. Prior to the August recess, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. announced an agreement in principle to fund the government for six months. The House did its part last week, passing six-month CR with an overwhelming majority. The resolution sets FY 13 annualized spending at $1.047 trillion, roughly in line with the level set by last year's debt ceiling agreement. Democrats claimed a tactical victory as the House Republican budget passed earlier this year had set a lower spending level. The perceived tradeoff for Republicans is that, if they win control of the Senate next year and retain the House majority, they will have a freer hand in writing spending bills. While most programs receive a nominal increase in funding from the CR, a handful, including wildfire suppression, cybersecurity, and veterans' benefits, would receive more substantial boosts. There is also about $88.5 billion in war funding and $6.4 billion in disaster relief, neither of which count against the overall cap. The resolution is likely to pass quickly in the Senate and has the White House's backing; however, one potential snag is a decrease in surface transportation funding from the level in the reauthorization passed in July. Senator Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who chaired the conference committee on that bill, has already expressed concern on that front.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Energy Department Loan Guarantees
Vote Passed (245-161, 23 Not Voting)

The last piece of business for the House last week was a bill to effectively end the Energy Department's (DOE) loan guarantee program for renewable and "innovative" energy projects. Dubbed the "No More Solyndras Act," the bill is a response to the bankruptcy of the solar panel manufacturer of the same name, which resulted in a $535 million loss to taxpayers. It would forbid DOE from considering applications that had been submitted after December 31, 2011, and would put in place a new set of procedures for applications submitted prior to that date, including placement of all such applications under review by the Treasury Department. Passage of the bill was mostly along party lines, though 22 Democrats, mostly hailing from more conservative districts, did support the measure. The bill is unlikely to be taken up by the Senate.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Student Loan Exemption for Deceased Veterans – Suspension
Vote Passed (400-0, 29 Not Voting)

This bill, passed under suspension of the rules and therefore requiring a two-thirds majority for passage, would exempt student loan debt from gross taxable income for veterans who die as the result of a service-related disability. Loan forgiveness would be back-dated to October 7, 2001, and families/survivors of the deceased would have up to one year after enactment of the bill to file for refunds. The bill now heads to the Senate, where its prospects are uncertain.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Public Funding for Political Conventions – Suspension
Vote Passed (310-95, 24 Not Voting)

Another suspension bill would prohibit the use of monies in the Presidential Election Campaign Fund for financing presidential nomination conventions, e.g. the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. Under current law each major party is entitled to $4 million to stage their conventions and minor parties are entitled to an amount proportionate to their popular vote percentage in the previous election. An earlier House bill passed last December (Roll Call 873) would have eliminated the Presidential Election Campaign Fund, and thus the public financing of elections entirely. Unlike that measure, which was unanimously opposed by Democrats, the more modest bill passed last week attracted about half of all Democrats voting as well as all Republicans. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., has introduced a companion measure with bipartisan support in the Senate.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Welfare Work Requirements – Disapproval Resolution
Vote Passed (250-164, 15 Not Voting)

The issue of welfare was a persistent theme in the presidential campaign for months – with the Republican nominee Mitt Romney accusing President Obama of removing work requirements from the program and allowing people to collect money with no strings attached. At issue was a July 12 memorandum issued by the Health and Human Services Department (HHS), which oversees the welfare program, whose technical name is Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The memo laid out a proposed waiver program for states that meet certain requirements for boosting TANF employment goals. Republicans claim that HHS does not have the waiver authority it claims in the memo, and that the proposal should have been formally submitted to Congress since it amounts to an agency rule making. The latter assertion was supported by a Government Accountability Office report. Partisans on both sides have either decried or supported the waiver proposal, including the two chief architects of 1990s welfare reform, former President Clinton and former Speaker Newt Gingrich. The action taken by the House last week would repeal the move by HHS. In order for the repeal to become law, however, a similar resolution would have to pass the Senate and be signed by the president, both highly unlikely.

Of course, since he supports giving taxpayer money to those who refuse to work,

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*STEM Visa Program - Suspension2
Vote Failed (257-158, 14 Not Voting)

Immigration has always been a partisan battleground, but one area the parties seemed to have formed agreement in the 112th Congress was on the need to boost immigration by high-skill workers, particularly those in the so-called STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith, R.-Tex., had been working with Senate Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee Chairman Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., for months on just such a proposal. As with so many bipartisan efforts in the last two years, however, talks foundered. Both chairmen support creating roughly 50,000 visas for graduates of U.S. institutions with advanced degrees in STEM fields. The detail that derailed talks is that Smith wanted those visas to come at the expense of an existing program, the diversity visa lottery, which sets aside slots for people from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the U.S. Schumer and other Democrats wanted to simply create new slots for the STEM graduates while holding the diversity lottery harmless. Last week Smith and House leadership decided to try their luck on the floor with a suspension vote for Smith’s proposal; it ended up falling 20 votes shy of the two-thirds needed for passage. Given the bipartisan support for the overall idea, it is possible talks could resume in the lame duck session, though the crowded agenda makes any decisive action unlikely before next year.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Manhattan Project National Park – Suspension
Vote Failed (237-180, 12 Not Voting)

Another failed suspension vote came on this bill to set aside federal land in New Mexico, Washington state, and Tennessee for a national park commemorating the Manhattan Project that led to the creation of the atomic bomb. Most suspensions are non-controversial, and Democrats in particular are usually in favor of creating parkland, but opponents of the measure said it would send the wrong message to allies such as Japan, which suffered mass casualties as a result of the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. The bill fell 41 votes short.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Energy Regulatory Rollback – Passage
Vote Passed (233-175, 21 Not Voting)

The final bill passed by the House before the November elections was a summation of sorts regarding one of Republicans’ core electoral and policy arguments – namely that regulations, particularly those concerning energy production – are hurting the economy. H.R. 3409 is a smorgasbord containing the texts of five different bills, four of which had previously passed the House (Roll Calls 249, 573, 741 and 800, all in 2011). The original bill would prevent the Interior Secretary from issuing any regulations before 2014 that would result in damage to the coal industry, e.g., reductions in coal mining jobs, the amount of coal available for consumption or export, etc. The other proposals would: prevent EPA from regulating greenhouse gases as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, as well as effectively repeal automobile efficiency standards that would increase gas mileage to 54.5 mpg by 2025; create a cross-agency council for analyzing EPA regulations and their effect on the economy, as well as pre-empting a handful of EPA rules from being finalized and nullifying others already finalized; prevent EPA from regulating coal ash - a byproduct of coal combustion that some states use to make asphalt – instead allowing the states to regulate it as they see fit; and limiting EPA authority over water-quality standards. The Senate will not take up the bill when it returns, and the president has issued a veto threat.

Since he is jalway in favor of more environmental regulations, regardless of how many jobs may be lost,

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Minnesota Land Exchange
Vote Passed (225-189, 15 Not Voting)

This bill would facilitate a land exchange between the federal government and the state of Minnesota. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area wilderness in northern Minnesota is currently segmented by state-owned lands; the bill would instruct the secretary of Agriculture to exchange unspecified federal land elsewhere within the state for about 86,000 acres of state-held land in the wilderness. The bill is controversial among House Democrats because it bypasses normal processes for environmental review and land value appraisal and would grandfather in certain activities such as hunting and fishing on the land being converted from state to federal. (Hunting and fishing are normally prohibited in federal wilderness areas.) A handful of Democratic amendments to reverse these changes were defeated. The bill's prospects in the Senate are unclear.

Since he is in the pocket of environmentalists and can't stand the people having free access to THEIR land:

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Government Surveillance Authorities
Vote Passed (301-118, 10 Not Voting)

This bill reauthorizes the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) through 2017. FISA permits the Attorney General and Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to authorize warrantless surveillance of foreign terrorism suspects who are based overseas. The law sets the rules of the road, broadly speaking, for intelligence agencies engaged in these spying activities. The bill prohibits the spying power from being used to target persons in the United States, and the program is subject to oversight by the congressional Judiciary and Intelligence committees and a special court. Almost all Republicans voting backed passage, while a majority of Democrats (111) voted against the bill. Senate Intelligence committee chair Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has been pushing for reauthorization in the other chamber, but has met resistance from fellow committee member Ron Wyden, D-Ore. Wyden wants to know how many American citizens have been targeted by the spy program and has placed a hold on the Senate's reauthorization measure until he has an answer. The White House strongly backs the bill.

Because he doesn't support on our ability to defend ourselves from terrorists:

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Sequestration Replacement
Vote Passed (223-196, 10 Not Voting)

There is increasing concern in Congress over the looming "sequester," or automatic spending cuts, slated to begin on January 2, 2013. These cuts were triggered after the so-called "supercommittee" created by last year's debt-ceiling deal failed to find $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction. Republicans have expressed particular concern over the cuts to defense spending, which would amount to roughly $500 billion over 10 years without changes to current law. H.R. 6365, the National Security and Job Protection Act, represents the second attempt by the House to replace the sequester. (The first sequester replacement bill, H.R. 5652, Roll Call 247, was passed in May.) The bill instructs President Obama to submit to Congress by October 15 a plan to replace all discretionary and mandatory defense spending cuts (but not domestic mandatory cuts to programs such as Medicare) scheduled to occur next year. Such a plan could not include any revenue increases. Upon enactment of the replacement cuts, the overall level of authorized spending for FY 2013 would be reduced by $19 billion, which would bring the total amount in line with the House Republican budget resolution passed in April. Finally, the bill would eliminate the separate caps on defense and non-defense spending for subsequent years of the sequester, potentially allowing increases in defense spending even as the rest of the budget is reduced. The president has threatened to veto the bill, though it will likely not be brought up in the Senate anyway.

Since he doesn't believe America should remain strong and able to defend itself,

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Continuing Resolution
Vote Passed (329-91, 9 Not Voting)

The only "must-pass" bill on the congressional ledger before election season fully takes over is a measure to fund the government beyond September 30. Prior to the August recess, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. announced an agreement in principle to fund the government for six months. The House did its part last week, passing six-month CR with an overwhelming majority. The resolution sets FY 13 annualized spending at $1.047 trillion, roughly in line with the level set by last year's debt ceiling agreement. Democrats claimed a tactical victory as the House Republican budget passed earlier this year had set a lower spending level. The perceived tradeoff for Republicans is that, if they win control of the Senate next year and retain the House majority, they will have a freer hand in writing spending bills. While most programs receive a nominal increase in funding from the CR, a handful, including wildfire suppression, cybersecurity, and veterans' benefits, would receive more substantial boosts. There is also about $88.5 billion in war funding and $6.4 billion in disaster relief, neither of which count against the overall cap. The resolution is likely to pass quickly in the Senate and has the White House's backing; however, one potential snag is a decrease in surface transportation funding from the level in the reauthorization passed in July. Senator Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who chaired the conference committee on that bill, has already expressed concern on that front.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Energy Department Loan Guarantees
Vote Passed (245-161, 23 Not Voting)

The last piece of business for the House last week was a bill to effectively end the Energy Department's (DOE) loan guarantee program for renewable and "innovative" energy projects. Dubbed the "No More Solyndras Act," the bill is a response to the bankruptcy of the solar panel manufacturer of the same name, which resulted in a $535 million loss to taxpayers. It would forbid DOE from considering applications that had been submitted after December 31, 2011, and would put in place a new set of procedures for applications submitted prior to that date, including placement of all such applications under review by the Treasury Department. Passage of the bill was mostly along party lines, though 22 Democrats, mostly hailing from more conservative districts, did support the measure. The bill is unlikely to be taken up by the Senate.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

12-16-12

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Disability Treaty – Ratification
Vote Rejected (61-38, 1 Not Voting)

Despite a last-minute appearance by former GOP Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas in support of the treaty, Senate Republicans mustered enough opposition to defeat the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Supporters, including Dole and Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., described the treaty as essentially enshrining the Americans with Disabilities Act (PL 101-336) as an international standard. Kerry highlighted the treaty's support among veterans groups. The treaty's detractors, including Republican presidential candidate and former senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, raised the possibility of "international bureaucrats" making child-care decisions in place of parents, including potentially restricting home schooling. All international treaties require a two-thirds majority of those present and voting, so supporters fell five votes short. Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada vowed another vote in the next Congress.

Since both Wyden and Merkley believe we should cede our sovereignty to the United nations:

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Defense Authorization – Final Passage
Vote Passed (98-0, 2 Not Voting)

Following a Monday cloture vote, last week the Senate gave unanimous support to its FY 2013 defense authorization bill. The measure provides funding for all branches of the armed services (excluding the Coast Guard), nuclear security operations at the Department of Energy, and "overseas contingency operations," i.e., funding for the war in Afghanistan and other overseas conflicts. Fiscal 2013 funding in the bill would come to roughly $631 billion, $88 billion of which covers war costs. Major amendments adopted during debate would further toughen sanctions against Iran; clarify that U.S. citizens and permanent residents may not be detained without charge or trial if apprehended on American soil; prohibit transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay to a U.S. facility; and ensure that the Pentagon is able to purchase alternative fuels. The provision on alternative fuels is likely to be a sticking point in conference negotiations with the House, whose bill prohibits purchase of such fuels if they are more expensive than traditional options such as petroleum. Despite President Obama's veto message, both chambers' bills contain restrictions on Guantanamo detainee transfers, retirement of Air National Guard planes, and TRICARE enrollment fees. Though conferees have not been named for either side (that is likely to happen this week), staff discussions have already begun.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Russia/Moldova Trade Relations – Final Passage
Vote Passed (92-4, 4 Not Voting)

The Senate cleared the way for more open trade with the Russian Federation and the tiny Eastern European republic of Moldova last week with passage of a House measure that lifts 1970s-vintage restrictions on both countries. The move was necessitated by Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization over the summer; had trade restrictions not been rescinded, the U.S. would have been vulnerable to retaliatory actions by the Russians. Moldova has been a WTO member since 2001 and appears simply to have hitched a ride on a moving legislative vehicle. Despite cheers from the business community for the free trade measure, the Russian government is deeply unhappy with accompanying language chiding its poor human rights record and sanctioning individuals associated with the imprisonment and death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. The bill is currently before the president and will likely be signed into law shortly.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Energy Efficiency – Suspension
Vote Passed (398-2, 1 Present, 30 Not Voting)

In a rare moment of bipartisan agreement on an energy measure, the House came together to pass a bill clarifying federal efficiency standards for a variety of heavy appliances, including air conditioners and commercial refrigerators (excluding walk-in refrigerators). Though the measure appears uncontroversial, its prospects are not clear in the Senate given the crowded calendar.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Global Internet Governance – Adoption
Vote Passed (397-0, 34 Not Voting)

The House unanimously agreed to Senate language expressing the sense of Congress that the Internet should remain "free from government control." The concurrent resolution was adopted amid the backdrop of a meeting of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a United Nations body broadly responsible for fostering cooperation among governments and the private sector on international telecommunications governance. Technology companies such as Google have voiced concern that the ITU conference could lead to adoption of restrictive regulations making it easier for national governments to censor content.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Amending Language in Federal Law – Suspension
Vote Passed (398-1, 32 Not Voting)

In its final action of the week, the House cleared a Senate bill that would remove the pejorative "lunatic" from the United States Code. The lone House dissenter was Texas Republican Louie Gohmert, who insisted that lunatic should be retained, pointing to his fellow Members of Congress as living, breathing examples of the term. The bill awaits the president's signature.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

 

12-9-12

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Sportsmen's Access to Federal Land – Motion to Waive
Vote Rejected (50-44, 6 Not Voting)

Sen. Jon Tester's bill to increase sportsmen's access to federal lands hit a snag over budgetary rules. Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., raised a point of order that a provision of the bill to raise duck stamp fees violated budgetary caps agreed to in last year's debt ceiling deal. Democrats attempted to waive the budget rules but failed to muster the necessary 60 votes. "Duck stamp" is the nickname for a federal license to hunt migratory birds whose proceeds are directed toward wetlands conservation. Congress had enacted all previous fee increases, but the bill would move that authority to the Interior Department, which was also a sore point among Republicans on top of the budget issue. Tester's wide-ranging bill, which had garnered support from a large coalition of outside groups including the National Rifle Association and Nature Conservancy, had looked like a safe bet for easy passage, as it had cleared several earlier procedural hurdles with no less than 84 votes. The prospects for the bill are uncertain at this point: Democrats could attempt to attach it to another bill, such as the defense authorization or whatever agreement (if any) emerges from fiscal cliff talks.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Disability Treaty – Motion to Proceed
Vote Agreed to (61-36, 3 Not Voting)

The Senate agreed to proceed to consideration of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a United Nations treaty meant to outline the rights of disabled individuals and create a framework for implementing plans to protect those rights. The treaty contains language outlining the "general obligations" of signatory nations vis a vis their disabled citizens as well as sections on issues ranging from independent living to human dignity.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Defense Authorization – Amendment
Vote Agreed to (94-0, 6 Not Voting)

After months of delay, the Senate began working through amendments to the annual defense authorization bill in earnest last week. A number of notable amendments passed on the floor, including this one from Sens. Menendez, D-N.J., Kirk, R-Ill., and Lieberman, I-Ct., which further tightens sanctions on Iran. Others include those offered by Sens. Feinstein, D-Calif. (clarifying that American citizens and permanent residents apprehended on U.S. soil may not be detained indefinitely or without trial – Roll Call 213); Ayotte, R-N.H. (prohibiting transfer of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay – RC 212); and Udall, D-Colo. (striking language forbidding the defense department from taking part in a pilot biofuels program - RC 206). Dozens of other amendments were considered, with most agreed to by unanimous consent. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., filed cloture on the bill, lining up a cloture vote. Though the bill looks to be on a path toward passage, its prospects have been complicated by a veto threat from President Obama. The Administration presented a long list of grievances in its policy statement, including objections to the bill's language on detainees, Air National Guard force structure, and costs relating to TRICARE, the military's health care program. The President has also issued a veto threat against the House version of the bill (H.R. 4310).

Sen. Ron Wyden did not vote on this bill.
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*STEM Visa Program – Final Passage
Vote Passed (245-139, 48 Not Voting)

The House took another bite of the apple last week in attempting to create a visa program intended to allow foreign students who obtain advanced degrees in STEM fields from American universities to remain in the country. A previous attempt to pass the bill under suspension of the rules failed to garner the necessary two thirds for passage (Roll Call 590). This time the leadership opted to go through regular order, which meant only a simple majority was needed. Only a handful of Democrats voted for the measure, as the bulk of the caucus objected to the bill's elimination of the diversity visa program, which employs a lottery to distribute up to 55,000 visas every year to individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. The bill would move the diversity visa slots into the new STEM visa program. The Senate will not take up the measure this year; it is seen instead as the House Republican majority laying down a marker for the type of immigration reform measure that could pass muster with their caucus.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

 

11-25-12

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Cybersecurity – Cloture
Vote Rejected (51-47, 2 Not Voting)

In contrast to the brisk movement toward passage of the Sportsmen's Act, cybersecurity legislation once again ran aground in the Senate after a failure to invoke cloture. Despite the entreaties of the bill's sponsors, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs chairman Joseph I. Lieberman, I-Ct. and ranking member Susan Collins, R-Me., Republicans (as well as five Democrats) refused to end debate on the bill. Concerns in the business community remain a major stumbling block. The Chamber of Commerce and its congressional allies are wary that security standards established by the bill could morph from voluntary to mandatory once they become law. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. declared that "cybersecurity is dead for this Congress." The House passed a much less ambitious bill earlier this year that focused on information sharing between the government and private sector entities. President Obama threatened to veto that measure, citing privacy concerns, while endorsing the Senate bill. With the Senate deadlocked, any action in the remainder of the year is likely to come from the White House, which has reportedly drafted an executive order to protect vital computer networks from attack.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

*Sportsmen's Access to Federal Land – Cloture
Vote Agreed to (84-12, 4 Not Voting)

The Senate moved one step closer last week to passing a bill with a smorgasbord of provisions designed to appeal to outdoor enthusiasts, voting affirmatively on both a motion to proceed (Roll Call 201) and later invoking cloture on the bill. Sponsored by Democrat Jon Tester, D-Mont., the Sportsmen's Act of 2012 would exempt ammunition and fishing equipment from EPA regulation; ease a ban on importation of polar bear trophies from Canada; and allow the issuance of permits for individuals carrying bows and crossbows to cross national park land. The bill would reauthorize a number of wildlife conservation measures, as well as a law to facilitate the sale or exchange of federal land with non-federal landowners whose holdings lie within the boundaries of federal tracts. Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. raised a point of order last week regarding spending on duck stamps authorized in the bill. The point of order is expected to be overridden, with final passage coming after the Thanksgiving recess. President Obama supports the bill.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES
RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Russia Trade Relations, Human Rights Oversight – Passage
Vote Passed (365-43, 25 Not Voting)

In its first week of legislative action since the November 6 elections, the House moved on a measure to establish Permanent Normal Trade Relations with the Russian Federation. By an overwhelming and bipartisan majority, the lower chamber endorsed a measure to essentially repeal 1970s-era restrictions on trade with Russia and Moldova that were originally implemented because the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc nations denied freedom of emigration to their Jewish citizens. The legislation was necessitated by Russia's recent accession to the World Trade Organization, which was finalized in late August. If U.S. trade restrictions are not lifted, American goods could become subject to retaliatory tariffs, closing off a potentially lucrative new market. The Russia trade title includes several requirements for oversight from the U.S. Trade Representative to ensure Russia is living up to its new WTO obligations. Legislators more skeptical of closer ties with Russia fought for the inclusion of human rights provisions in the legislation. These include a sense of Congress statement the U.S. should support democracy and human rights activists in Russia. The teeth of the provisions, however, center on the ordeal of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian attorney who died under suspicious circumstances while in police custody in 2009. The president will be required to compile a list of names of those responsible for Magnitsky's abuse and death. Those individuals will be denied entry to the U.S. and their assets will be frozen. The White House is officially supportive of the combined measure, though the Magnitsky provisions are already causing headaches with Moscow. The bill now moves to the Senate, where the Finance and Foreign Relations panels have already passed similar measures.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

12-20-12

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Disability Treaty – Ratification
Vote Rejected (61-38, 1 Not Voting)

Despite a last-minute appearance by former GOP Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas in support of the treaty, Senate Republicans mustered enough opposition to defeat the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Supporters, including Dole and Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., described the treaty as essentially enshrining the Americans with Disabilities Act (PL 101-336) as an international standard. Kerry highlighted the treaty's support among veterans groups. The treaty's detractors, including Republican presidential candidate and former senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, raised the possibility of "international bureaucrats" making child-care decisions in place of parents, including potentially restricting home schooling. All international treaties require a two-thirds majority of those present and voting, so supporters fell five votes short. Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada vowed another vote in the next Congress.

Since both Wyden and Merkley believe we should cede our sovereignty to the United nations:

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Defense Authorization – Final Passage
Vote Passed (98-0, 2 Not Voting)

Following a Monday cloture vote, last week the Senate gave unanimous support to its FY 2013 defense authorization bill. The measure provides funding for all branches of the armed services (excluding the Coast Guard), nuclear security operations at the Department of Energy, and "overseas contingency operations," i.e., funding for the war in Afghanistan and other overseas conflicts. Fiscal 2013 funding in the bill would come to roughly $631 billion, $88 billion of which covers war costs. Major amendments adopted during debate would further toughen sanctions against Iran; clarify that U.S. citizens and permanent residents may not be detained without charge or trial if apprehended on American soil; prohibit transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay to a U.S. facility; and ensure that the Pentagon is able to purchase alternative fuels. The provision on alternative fuels is likely to be a sticking point in conference negotiations with the House, whose bill prohibits purchase of such fuels if they are more expensive than traditional options such as petroleum. Despite President Obama's veto message, both chambers' bills contain restrictions on Guantanamo detainee transfers, retirement of Air National Guard planes, and TRICARE enrollment fees. Though conferees have not been named for either side (that is likely to happen this week), staff discussions have already begun.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Russia/Moldova Trade Relations – Final Passage
Vote Passed (92-4, 4 Not Voting)

The Senate cleared the way for more open trade with the Russian Federation and the tiny Eastern European republic of Moldova last week with passage of a House measure that lifts 1970s-vintage restrictions on both countries. The move was necessitated by Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization over the summer; had trade restrictions not been rescinded, the U.S. would have been vulnerable to retaliatory actions by the Russians. Moldova has been a WTO member since 2001 and appears simply to have hitched a ride on a moving legislative vehicle. Despite cheers from the business community for the free trade measure, the Russian government is deeply unhappy with accompanying language chiding its poor human rights record and sanctioning individuals associated with the imprisonment and death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. The bill is currently before the president and will likely be signed into law shortly.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*TAG Extension – Motion to Waive
Vote Rejected (50-42, 8 Not Voting)

The Senate began and stopped the process of considering legislation to extend the FDIC's Transaction Account Guarantee (TAG) program. The program, initiated in 2008 as a way of shoring up the banking system, provides unlimited government backing for non-interest bearing transaction accounts, such as those used for business expenses. (The normal threshold for government guarantees on such accounts is $250,000.) The Senate invoked cloture on the legislation earlier in the week by a healthy 76-20 margin (Roll Call 225). But the bill foundered on a budgetary point of order raised by Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey. Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson, D-S.D. moved to waive Toomey's point of order, but he fell ten votes shy of the 60 needed for such a maneuver. Like so much unfinished business, an extension may well get lost in the year-end rush to avert the fiscal cliff. Even if a bill does get through the Senate, however, House Republicans have signaled they would prefer to let TAG expire, which it is scheduled to do on December 31.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Energy Efficiency – Suspension
Vote Passed (398-2, 1 Present, 30 Not Voting)

In a rare moment of bipartisan agreement on an energy measure, the House came together to pass a bill clarifying federal efficiency standards for a variety of heavy appliances, including air conditioners and commercial refrigerators (excluding walk-in refrigerators). Though the measure appears uncontroversial, its prospects are not clear in the Senate given the crowded calendar.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Global Internet Governance – Adoption
Vote Passed (397-0, 34 Not Voting)

The House unanimously agreed to Senate language expressing the sense of Congress that the Internet should remain "free from government control." The concurrent resolution was adopted amid the backdrop of a meeting of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a United Nations body broadly responsible for fostering cooperation among governments and the private sector on international telecommunications governance. Technology companies such as Google have voiced concern that the ITU conference could lead to adoption of restrictive regulations making it easier for national governments to censor content.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Amending Language in Federal Law – Suspension
Vote Passed (398-1, 32 Not Voting)

In its final action of the week, the House cleared a Senate bill that would remove the pejorative "lunatic" from the United States Code. The lone House dissenter was Texas Republican Louie Gohmert, who insisted that lunatic should be retained, pointing to his fellow Members of Congress as living, breathing examples of the term. The bill awaits the president's signature.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Suspension Authority
Vote Passed (226-178, 27 Not Voting)

In a sign of things to come, House leaders brought a rule to the floor allowing bills to be considered under suspension of the rules through Friday, December 28. That would allow for expedited consideration of any deal to avert the fiscal cliff, as suspending the rules prevents any amendments from being offered and limits debate to one hour. It also raises the threshold for passage to a two-thirds majority, which could prove difficult, depending on the exact parameters of any agreement between President Obama and Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio.

Not wanting to support any legislation that may prevent the government from going over the fiscal cliff,

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Epinephrine Inhalers – Suspension
Vote Failed (229-182, 20 Not Voting)

The House failed to muster a two-thirds majority for a bill that would have granted a seven-month grace period for the distribution and sale of over-the-counter asthma inhalers that use chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as a propellant. The inhalers have been banned since December 1, 2011 per the Montreal Protocol, an international convention, which bans ozone-depleting substances (including CFCs). The bill under question, introduced by Texas Republican Rep. Michael C. Burgess, would have lifted the ban until August 1, 2013. Because it was considered under suspension of the rules, the bill would have needed 274 votes to pass. The bill appears to have enough support to pass under regular order, but leadership would need to clear enough floor time for a full debate.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Defense Authorization – Motion to Instruct
Vote Passed (399-4, 28 Not Voting)

The House and Senate named conferees last week to negotiations over the final version of the national defense authorization bill for fiscal year 2013. Rep. Susan A. Davis, D-Calif. moved to instruct House negotiators to agree to a provision in the Senate bill (S. 3254) that would mandate a report to Congress on how the U.S. will promote the security of Afghan women and girls as allied forces transition out of the country. The House also agreed to a motion from Armed Services chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif. to close portions of the negotiations to the public, presumably those dealing with intelligence and other particularly sensitive matters.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

1-27-13

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Sandy Recovery Supplemental – Substitute Amendment
Vote Agreed to (327-91, 14 Not Voting)

After agreeing unanimously to the FEMA reforms, the House dove into the much thornier issue of providing actual money for Sandy victims. Conservatives on the GOP side have been arguing for months that any new spending for disaster aid should be offset by cuts elsewhere in the budget. This fact at least partly explains Speaker John Boehner's decision to cancel anticipated action before the end of the 112th Congress. The several weeks' delay allowed Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers of Kentucky and fellow appropriator Rodney Frelinghuysen of Sandy-affected New Jersey to come up with legislative language and procedure that could win enough support for passage. Their proposal divided the aid into two tranches, one covering only the most immediate needs, to be offered as a substitute amendment by Rogers, and the second to take care of longer-term needs for coastal New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Conservative Republican Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina was allowed to offer an amendment to the Rogers language that would have offset its costs – about $17 billion – with a 1.6 percent cut across the rest of the federal budget. Mulvaney's amendment was rejected – though over two thirds of Republicans voting supported it – and Rogers's $17 billion language then passed with strong bipartisan support.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Sandy Recovery Supplemental – Long-term Recovery Aid
Vote Agreed to (228-192, 12 Not Voting)

The Frelinghuysen amendment in support of long-term recovery efforts proved much more controversial and more difficult to pass. It provided an additional $33 billion on top of the $17 billion in the Rogers amendment. In addition to the question of spending offsets, many Republicans questioned whether the type of mitigation efforts supported by the Frelinghuysen language belonged in a disaster aid bill. That type of spending, they argue, ought to be debated as part of the regular budgetary and appropriations process. Several amendments to Frelinghuysen were adopted, among them a rescission of funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Roll Call 16) and a restriction on the use of funds in the bill to acquire new federal land (Roll Call 21). Ultimately the Frelinghuysen language was adopted, but with the support of only 38 Republicans, mostly those from the affected states and other regions that have relied on federal support for disaster recovery in the past, such as the Gulf Coast.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Sandy Recovery Supplemental – Final Passage
Vote Passed (241-180, 11 Not Voting)

The final package voted on the by House consisted of the Rogers and Frelinghuysen amendments and the disaster aid reforms. Ultimately the bill provides around $50.5 billion to the areas affected by the storm. Almost all of that total is designated "emergency spending," meaning it falls outside of budgetary caps established for this fiscal year by the 2011 debt ceiling agreement. The final bill did pick up a few more Republican votes, but it would not have come close to passage without near-unanimous Democratic support. The issue of whether to offset disaster aid appears certain to resurface again. Rep. Mulvaney, while lamenting defeat of his amendment, said he was nonetheless "encouraged" to receive 162 votes.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Disaster Aid Reform
Vote Passed (403-0, 26 Not Voting)

The House engaged in a multiple-step process last week in order to finally pass the bulk of an assistance package for victims of Hurricane Sandy (after passing a bill two weeks ago increasing the National Flood Insurance Program's borrowing authority). The first step was passing this bill designed to introduce efficiencies to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) disaster recovery procedures. Among other things, the bill would streamline environmental reviews, reduce debris removal costs, and allow FEMA to make limited repairs to housing structures if that would be less costly than providing trailers. It would also direct FEMA to provide Congress with recommendations for reducing future recovery costs.

Rep. Peter DeFazio did not vote on this bill

1-20-13

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Establishing the Rules of the House
Vote Passed (228-196, 5 Not Voting)

After electing the Speaker, the next order of business in organizing the House is traditionally establishing the rules for that Congress. This is typically a prosaic piece of business, but there were several controversial items in the rules package this year. The resolution reauthorizes the House's Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group to continue litigation defending the Defense of Marriage Act in the court system. It also authorizes the Oversight Committee to continue its civil action against Attorney General Eric Holder over documents related to the Fast and Furious gun walking scandal. The last controversial provision concerns the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a panel created by the 2010 health care overhaul to look for ways to lower health care costs. As envisioned in the health care bill, Congress would automatically vote on the panel's recommendations; under the rules of the House in the new Congress, it will not be possible to consider those recommendations. The House passed a bill last March to repeal IPAB outright (Roll Call Number 126). It is worth noting that President Obama has not made any nominations to the panel, so it currently has no members and therefore no ability to make recommendations. Democrats attempted to revise the package twice, first with inclusion of a study regarding the voting rights of delegates from the U.S. territories and Puerto Rico, and later with legislative language to create national early voting. Both efforts were voted down.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Hurricane Sandy Relief – Suspension
Vote Passed (354-67, 8 Not Voting)

Speaker Boehner caused no small amount of indignation when he adjourned the House at the end of the last Congress without taking up a relief package for victims of Hurricane Sandy. The delay caused the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to approach its borrowing limit, necessitating this suspension bill to raise the program's borrowing authority by $9.7 billion. The Senate passed the bill by voice vote later in the day. Boehner has pledged that the remainder of the roughly $60 billion in aid would be considered in the House January 15.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

2-17-13

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Gender-based Violence Prevention - Substitute Amendment
Vote Rejected (34-65, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate began action on its renewed effort to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, a panoply of initiatives designed to combat such crimes as domestic violence and sexual assault and to provide assistance to state and local law enforcement. Both chambers of Congress passed reauthorization bills last year, but were never able to resolve various differences. One major hurdle, the creation of new visas for immigrant victims of domestic violence, has been stripped from this year's version of the Senate bill. The other large sticking point, however, remains - Senate language that would give Indian tribes expanded police and judicial jurisdiction over non-Indian sex offenders who commit crimes on tribal land. Senate proponents contend the provision is a practical response to the reality that the nearest law enforcement authorities are often located hours away from tribal lands, making it very difficult to adequately police non-Indian offenders. Opponents are wary of potential constitutional issues raised by the provision. Regardless, the bill looks to be sailing toward passage in the Senate. The motion to proceed was agreed to by an overwhelming 85-8 margin (Roll Call Number 12) on February 4. Several days later, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, offered a substitute bill supported by his conference. The Grassley substitute made several changes, including to the Indian language. Its margin of defeat - 34 to 65, with ten Republicans joining all Democrats and independents - indicates the strength of the bill's support. The president has not taken a position on the current bill, though he supported last year's Senate bill. The House has not yet taken action to move a reauthorization.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Budget Submission Requirement - Final Passage
Vote Passed (253-167, 11 Not Voting)

House Republican leadership has vowed to complete a budget document this year that achieves balance within a decade. Last week the House passed a bill that would hold the President to the same requirement. The Require a PLAN Act would mandate that, if President Obama's FY2014 budget - which, the bill's findings section notes, is expected to be (and indeed was) late - does not achieve balance at any point within its ten-year window, a new budget that does project balance must be submitted by April 1. The bill is not expected to be taken up by the Senate, but - along with the No Budget, No Pay Act that was recently signed into law - it does allow House Republicans to position themselves as the group in Washington most concerned with taming the deficit.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

2-9-13

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Temporary Suspension of Debt Limit – Final Passage
Vote Passed (64-34, 2 Not Voting)

The federal debt limit will have no force or effect until May 19, thanks to Senate action last week to clear a House-passed measure for President Obama's signature. In addition to suspending the debt limit, the bill commits the Senate (and the House) to passing a budget resolution for the first time in four years, under pain of its members having their paychecks withheld. Before the bill could pass, Democrats had to table several Republican amendments from Rob Portman of Ohio, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Rand Paul of Kentucky and David Vitter of Louisiana (Roll Call Votes 6-10). Portman offered two amendments: the first would have require that any bill to raise the debt limit include non-interest spending cuts of an equal or greater amount; the second would have cut discretionary spending by one percent every three or four months if Congress does not agree to a budget resolution by October 1, 2013. Toomey's amendment would have prioritized certain accounts for receipt of payment in the event Congress did not raise the debt limit, placing debt interest, Social Security and military personnel at the front of the line. The Paul amendment would have banned the transfer of certain weapons systems such F-16 fighter jets to Egypt. The Vitter amendment would have introduced spending cuts to the bill. All but the Paul amendment, which had very little support, split the Senate exactly along party lines. Democrats rejected each amendment unanimously except the second Portman amendment, which attracted the support of Kay Hagan (N.C.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Jon Tester (Mont.).

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Disaster Relief – Final Passage
Vote Passed (62-36, 2 Not Voting)

Relief for the victims of Hurricane Sandy cleared Congress last week, almost exactly three months after the storm devastated coastal communities in New York and New Jersey. After defeating an amendment from Republican Mike Lee of Utah that would have offset the bill's cost with a 0.49 percent across-the-board spending cut (Roll Call Number 3), the upper chamber just managed to clear the 60-vote threshold leadership had agreed to set for passage of the bill. All told, the package contains $50.5 billion, to be disbursed through programs in the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Health and Human Services, and Army Corps of Engineers, among others. All but $5.4 billion of this amount is designated as emergency spending, meaning it does not apply to discretionary budgetary caps set by the 2011 debt ceiling agreement.
Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Secretary of State Confirmation
Vote Confirmed (94-3, 1 Present, 2 Not Voting)

The senior Senator from Massachusetts, Democrat John Kerry, was confirmed as the 68th Secretary of State last week. Kerry received near-unanimous support from his colleagues, the only dissenters being Republicans John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma. Kerry officially took over from Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday, February 1.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

2-3-13

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Temporary Rules Changes
Vote Agreed to (78-16, 6 Not Voting)

The only action in the Senate last week focused on the upper chamber's internal rules. There has been much bitter recrimination between majority Democrats and minority Republicans in recent years over a general lack of productivity, which the majority blames on obstruction - mostly in the form of a geometric increase in usage of the filibuster - and the minority blames on stonewalling, mostly in the form of Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada "filling the amendment tree" on bills brought to the floor, thereby preventing Republicans (or anyone else, for that matter) from offering amendments. A group of Democrats led by Tom Udall of New Mexico and Jeff Merkley of Oregon had been pushing a return to the "talking" filibuster of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington fame, which they claimed could be pushed through with a simple majority of 51 votes at the beginning of the 113th Congress. Udall and Merkley (and most other Democrats) deemed this the "constitutional" option, since nowhere in the Constitution does it state that the Senate should operate under anything but majority rule except in rare circumstances such impeachment of a president and approving treaties. Republicans dubbed the Merkley/Udall proposal the "nuclear" option, claiming it would completely destroy what was left of the body's traditional comity and leave the minority little choice but to engage in parliamentary guerrilla war to have a voice in the chamber. In the event, the nuclear button was not pushed, and what changes occurred last week will mostly tinker around the edges. Senators cast two votes, the first on a temporary rules change applicable only in the 113th Congress. The biggest effect of the change would be to limit the ability to filibuster the motion to proceed, which is a procedural hurdle that must be leapt in order to consider a bill on the floor. If the two leaders agree on a set of four amendments, two each from the minority and majority, debate on the motion to proceed would be limited to four hours. The other change would limit post-cloture debate time on lower-level judges and executive branch nominees.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Permanent Rules Changes
Vote Agreed to (86-9, 5 Not Voting)

The second vote instituted a permanent change to the Senate's rules; it also chiefly concerns the motion to proceed. Currently when the majority leader files a cloture petition in order to end debate, two days of session must pass before a cloture vote can be held and, if cloture is invoked, 30 additional hours must pass before voting on the actual matter at hand (in this case, the motion to proceed to the bill). The rules change would allow a cloture vote to be held the day after a petition is filed, if the cloture petition is signed by both the Majority and Minority Leaders and seven members each from the majority and minority. If cloture on the motion to proceed is then invoked, senators would immediately vote on the motion instead of waiting 30 hours. The other permanent rules change would condense the process for motions to go to conference with the House, reducing the number of motions needed – and thus the number of opportunities to filibuster – from three to one.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Short-Term Suspension of Debt Limit – Final Passage
Vote Passed (285-144, 3 Not Voting)

The House temporarily defused a looming crisis over the debt limit last week by passing a bill that, rather than raising the limit – that is, setting a new cap on the federal government's borrowing authority – actually suspends it – meaning there technically is no limit – until May 19, at which point the limit would be reset at a new, higher level, to reflect government borrowing activity in the interim period. In addition, the bill would institute an enforcement mechanism for each house of Congress to pass a FY 2014 budget resolution. Beginning April 15, if a chamber has not passed a budget, that chamber's members would not receive their paychecks. This would carry on until the earlier of passage of a budget or the last day of the 113th Congress. Though House Democrats mostly decried the bill as a gimmick, President Obama has stated he will sign the bill if it reaches him.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

Posted 3-16-13

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Committee Funding Resolution – Amendment Vote
Vote Rejected (44-53, 3 Not Voting)

The Senate passed a resolution authorizing funding levels for its standing committees through the remainder of fiscal year 2013. This is normally a non-controversial measure but Kentucky Republican Rand Paul objected to including funding for a body known as the National Security Working Group, essentially a forum for senators to discuss foreign policy and national security. Paul insisted on a vote for his amendment to strip funding from the Working Group. After the amendment was rejected, the resolution was agreed to by voice vote.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*CIA Director Nomination – Confirmation
Vote Confirmed (63-34, 3 Not Voting)

The Senate confirmed President Obama's counterterrorism advisor John Brennan to be the next director of the CIA last week. Brennan looked to be on a glide path to confirmation until Kentucky Republican Rand Paul staged an unexpected "talking" filibuster that stretched over 13 hours. Paul stated that he was holding up Brennan's nomination because he had not received adequate assurances from the administration that the president did not have authority to target American citizens on American soil with drone strikes if they were not an "imminent threat." During the course of the filibuster Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. released a brief letter to Paul stating that the president does not have the authority "to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil." This appeared to satisfy Paul, who yielded the floor after midnight on March 7. Following a successful cloture motion later that afternoon (Roll Call 31), Brennan was confirmed with a solid bipartisan majority.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Disaster Response and Preparedness – Suspension
Vote Passed (370-28, 33 Not Voting)

The House cleared a bill under suspension last week reauthorizing various measures meant to strengthen preparation and response to pandemics and similar biological disasters. The House originally passed the bill in January (Roll Call 24). It was later amended in the Senate, extending the authorization through 2018, and sent back to the House. This latest vote moves the bill to the president's desk.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*FY 2013 Continuing Appropriations
Vote Passed (267-151, 13 Not Voting)

With a March 27 deadline to avert government shutdown looming, the House moved last week to pass a bill making appropriation for the rest of the fiscal year. The package contained full appropriations bills for the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, (though it did not increase their funding levels) and essentially continues FY12 funding for all other accounts. The bill's overall funding level is in line with the $1.043 trillion cap agreed to under the 2011 debt ceiling agreement, but because of the sequester, net new budget authority would instead reach $984 billion.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

Posted 3-10-13

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Hagel Nomination – Confirmation
Vote Confirmed (58-41, 1 Not Voting)

After months of being hammered by conservative media outlets and activist groups and a wobbly performance in his confirmation hearing, Chuck Hagel was confirmed last week to become the 24th Secretary of Defense. The 58-41 vote fell mostly along party lines, with Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Richard Shelby of Alabama and Hagel's fellow Nebraskan Mike Johanns the only Republicans joining all Democrats and independents in voting to confirm him. The confirmation vote followed a successful, and much more lopsided, cloture vote (Roll Call 23) – itself an unusual hurdle to clear on a Cabinet nomination (though not, strictly speaking "unprecedented," as some commentators and Democratic officials have stated).

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Lew Nomination – Confirmation
Vote Confirmed (71-26, 3 Not Voting)

Receiving much less attention – and generating much less controversy – was the nomination of Jacob J. Lew to be the next Treasury Secretary. Though Lew did receive some criticism for compensation packages he received from former employers New York University and Citigroup, as well as for his Cayman Islands investments, his nomination sailed through committee and received healthy bipartisan support on the Senate floor.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Republican Sequester Alternative – Cloture
Vote Rejected (38-62)

The last day of February saw both parties in the Senate make a show of attempting to avert the budget sequester that went into effect the next day. The Republican proposal would order the President to submit a sequester replacement plan by March 15, which would cut roughly the same amount of funds in the same 50-50, defense-non-defense proportion as the sequester, but would allow the White House discretion in allocating the cuts within each budget function. Separately, the bill would allow the Defense Secretary to transfer previously-appropriated funds between departmental accounts. President Obama threatened to veto the bill, and it saw more Republican defections (nine) than Democratic recruits (two). Heaven forbid this president actually have to exercise some discretion and take credit for his actions!

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

*Democratic Sequester Alternative – Cloture
Vote Rejected (51-49)

The Democratic sequester replacement plan – and it should be noted that both this bill and the Republican bill only deal with year one of what is scheduled to be a decade-long budget squeeze – would fully repeal the $85 billion in cuts and replace them with several policy alternatives. These include ending direct payments to farmers, a proposal the Senate approved overwhelmingly last year in its version of the farm bill that never became law. The bill would also enact a 30% minimum tax rate on individual incomes over $5 million and would change the tax law definition of crude oil to include tar sands. Though the bill had no chance of garnering 60 votes, its chances were further damaged when the Congressional Budget Office reported that it would have increased the deficit by $7 billion. Not to be deterred by class warfare or concern for increasing budget deficits:

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Gender-based Violence Prevention – Final Passage
Vote Passed (286-138, 7 Not Voting)

Appearing to decide that the issue simply was not worth fighting over any longer, House leadership allowed the Senate-passed Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA) to come to the floor and pass with majority-Democratic support. Both chambers passed reauthorization measures in the 112th Congress, but no extension became law due to a variety of disagreements between the Senate and House leadership. These mostly centered on Senate efforts to expand the law's reach, for example by granting Indian tribal courts authority to prosecute non-Indian offenders and by extending protections to victims of gender identity and sexual orientation-based violence. Democrats made much hay of the GOP's resistance, labeling it part of a broader "war on women" that also included attacks on contraceptive coverage in Obamacare. Senate Democratic leaders made it a priority to re-pass VAWA quickly at the beginning of the 113th Congress, thus placing the onus back on House Republicans. Republicans offered an alternative bill as a replacement amendment, but it failed when 60 GOP members joined nearly all Democrats in voting no (Roll Call 54). The bill also extends the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, a law aimed at thwarting human trafficking. VAWA is now cleared for the president's signature.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

Posted 2-24-13

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Gender-based Violence Prevention – Final Passage
Vote Passed (78-22)

The Senate passed a comprehensive reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), including a controversial provision that grants expanded authority to tribal courts over non-American Indian offenders. The bill would also expand protections for LGBT victims. VAWA consists of a variety of grant programs to state and local law enforcement agencies and service organizations that specialize in treating victims of such crimes as rape, domestic violence, and stalking. S. 47 extends VAWA for five years. The Senate debated several amendments to the bill, notably defeating a proposal from Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn to remove the expanded tribal court authority (Roll Call 14 ). Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy of Vermont successfully attached a four-year extension of anti-human trafficking measures to the overall bill (Roll Call 15). House leaders have been vague about their plans regarding the legislation, which expired last year amid disagreement between the two chambers. President Obama supports the Senate bill.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Defense Secretary Nomination – Cloture
Vote Rejected (58-40, 1 Present, 1 Not Voting)

One of the more contentious nomination fights in recent memory was dragged into the President's Day recess when the Senate failed to invoke cloture on Chuck Hagel's bid to become Defense Secretary. The former Republican senator from Nebraska endured a withering confirmation hearing on January 31, during which he was grilled for hours on a narrow range of issues, particularly Israel and Iran. The nomination passed out of the Armed Services Committee February 12 on a straight party-line vote, and Reid attempted to end debate two days later. Several Republican senators, including John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Lamar Alexander stated that they would not vote for cloture that day but would following the recess (though they would ultimately oppose the nomination). After extended back and forth, the cloture vote failed. Four Republicans – Susan Collins, Thad Cochran, Mike Johanns and Lisa Murkowski – joined all Democrats and independents Angus King and Bernie Sanders in supporting the motion. Republican Orrin Hatch of Utah voted "present," which in this instance had the same effect as a "no" vote.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Disaster Aid for Houses of Worship – Suspension
Vote Passed (354-72, 5 Not Voting)

This bill would expand the definition of "private non-profit facilities" eligible for federal disaster funding to include houses of worship such as churches and synagogues. Many such buildings were damaged by Hurricane Sandy, which brought the issue to lawmakers' attention.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Hydropower Regulation – Suspension
Vote Passed (422-0, 9 Not Voting)

The House unanimously supported this measure to streamline permitting and regulation of hydropower facilities.

Rep. Peter DeFazio did not vote on this bill

*Federal Pay Freeze Extension – Final Passage
Vote Passed (261-154, 16 Not Voting)

Acting to head off a scheduled cost-of-living-adjustment for federal civilian employees, the House extended the freeze on their pay through the end of the calendar year. Military pay is not affected by the bill.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*North Korea Nuclear Test
Vote Passed (412-2, 17 Not Voting)

Responding to a nuclear test conducted by the secretive Kim Jong-un regime in North Korea, the House passed a resolution condemning the act and calling for a new round of sanctions. Libertarian Republicans Justin Amash of Michigan and Thomas Massie of Kentucky cast the only "no" votes. The North Koreans are probably shaking in their shoes over this toothless resolution!

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

Posted 6-16-2013

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Student Loan Rates Bill – Cloture
Vote Rejected (40-57, 2 Not Voting)

After a protracted battle, Congress last year passed a compromise extension of the current rate–3.4 percent– until July 1, 2013. After this date, interest rates on these loans will double. With that deadline looming, both parties are yet again wide apart on a method for setting interest rates permanently. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., authored this alternative to House Republicans’ bill for setting some federal student loan rates. The House plan (H.R. 1911) pegs Stafford subsidized and unsubsidized loans to the rate of 10-year Treasury notes plus 2.5% and plus 4.5% for Direct PLUS loans. Coburn’s bill more or less split the difference, pegging Stafford and Direct PLUS loans to the 10-year Treasury rate plus 3.0% at the time of loan origination. With current Treasury bill rates at 1.75 percent, Coburn argued that college students enrolling this fall would lock in a rate of 4.75 percent for the life of the loan. Senate Democrats continue to reject any approach to setting student loans permanently that ties interest rates to financial markets. Only Democrat Thomas R. Carper of Delaware crossed the aisle to vote for the bill, while five Republicans voted against the measure.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

*Student Loan Rates Bill – Cloture
Vote Rejected (51-46, 2 Not Voting)

In May, Senate Democrats introduced their alternative to a House Republican plan for setting Federal Direct Stafford Loan interest rates. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., would have extended the 3.4 percent rates on Stafford Loans for another two years. It would have paid for the estimated $8.3 billion cost of this extension by closing tax loopholes on some pensions and corporate accounts and by applying an excise tax on oil produced from tar sands. The vote to invoke cloture failed almost entirely along partisan lines, with only Democrat Joe Manchin III of West Virginia breaking ranks to vote no with all Senate Republicans. Although it failed, the bill is a line in the sand for the Senate majority, which strongly opposes the market-based House plan that would tie interest rates to the market interest rate of 10-year Treasury bills and allow rates to rise up to 10.5 percent for some loans. Congress now has two weeks to find a compromise solution before rates double on July 1.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*FY2014 Military Construction & Veterans Affairs Appropriations – Passage
Vote Passed (421-4, 8 Not Voting)

After approving one amendment from Mark Amodei, R-Nev., specifying $44 million in funds dedicated to reducing disability claims backlogs in Veterans Benefits Administration offices, the House passed its first fiscal 2014 spending bill to fund military construction and Department of Veterans Affairs programs with $157.8 billion. It provides $73.3 billion in discretionary funds, including $55 billion for veterans health services, and $84.5 billion in mandatory spending covering veterans service compensation, benefits and pensions. Adding in another $10 billion for military construction, such as $1.5 billion for military family housing, the House-approved legislation is $1.4 billion less than President Barack Obama requested and $2.4 billion more than the fiscal 2013 level that included cuts due to sequestration. It also provides $55.6 billion in advance appropriations for select VA medical care accounts for the 2015 fiscal year. The legislation now goes to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies; however, a markup still has not been scheduled for the bill.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*FY2014 Homeland Security Appropriations – Amendment Vote
Vote Agreed to (224-201, 9 Not Voting)

After clearing their first spending bill, two days later the House moved onto their second, funding the Homeland Security Department. The House passed, on a mostly party-line vote, Iowa Republican Steve King’s amendment that would bar the use of funds to implement or enforce six internal Homeland Security Department policies, including one from June 12, 2012 that granted temporary legal status to the so-called Dream Act immigrants – people younger than 31 who are in school and arrived in the United States prior to turning 16, have graduated or have served in the military, and do not have a criminal record. King said in House floor debate on June 5, “The president does not have the authority to waive immigration law, nor does he have the authority to create it out of thin air.”

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*FY2014 Homeland Security Appropriations – Passage
Vote Passed (245-182, 7 Not Voting)

After the House completed votes on amendments, they passed Homeland Security appropriations legislation for the 2014 fiscal year, funding the department and related activities with $46.1 billion ($38.9 billion in discretionary funds and $5.6 billion in emergency disaster aid). The funds include $10.6 billion for Customs and Border Protection, $5.4 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, $7.2 billion for the Transportation Security Administration and $9.9 billion each for the Coast Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. An issue that may cause problems with Senate approval is an approved provision to prohibit federal funding for ICE to provide abortions for detainees, except in extreme circumstances including rape, incest or endangerment of the life of the woman. Like the Military Construction-VA legislation, the future for the Homeland Security appropriations bill is uncertain and is not on the Senate schedule, as of yet.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

------------

Posted 6-2-2013

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

Farm Bill – Amendment Vote
Vote Agreed to (59-33, 8 Not Voting)

The Senate began working its way through amendments last week to a five-year reauthorization of food and nutrition programs, with a view toward passing the bill after the Memorial Day recess. This year’s farm bill is very similar to last year’s version, with some exceptions including greater support for Southern crops such as rice, cotton and peanuts. The bill would reduce spending on food stamps by about $4 billion and would reduce the deficit by $17.9 billion over ten years. The last amendment vote of the week changed the bill to reduce by 15 percent the amount of crop insurance subsidies for farmers with adjusted gross incomes above $750,000 a year. The amendment includes a clause stating that the new limitation would not take effect if the Agriculture secretary determines that it would result in a decline in overall crop insurance coverage or increase the total cost of the program. Other amendment votes last week included: a Gillibrand, D-N.Y. amendment to block the food stamp cuts (defeated, RC 131); an Inhofe, R-Okla. amendment to turn the food stamp program into a block grant to the states (defeated, RC 132); and a Sanders, I-Vt. amendment to permit states to require labeling of genetically-modified foods (defeated, RC 135). President Obama supports the Senate bill. The House is working on its own farm bill (H.R. 1947), which passed out of committee on May 15. The House measure would reduce the deficit by almost twice as much as the Senate bill, including more than $20 billion in cuts to nutrition programs.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

Keystone Pipeline Approval – Final Passage
Vote Passed (241-175, 1 Present, 16 Not Voting)

Returning to an issue from last Congress, the House passed a bill last week to force approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport diluted bitumen (or “tar sands”) from Canada through the American heartland to refining facilities on the Gulf Coast. Approval of pipelines do not normally spark so much controversy, but Keystone requires presidential approval because it crossed an international boundary, thus placing President Obama in the middle of a fight that places labor unions and environmentalists, two of his key constituencies, on opposing sides. H.R. 3 would seek to remove Obama from the approval process by declaring a presidential permit was not a necessity. It would deem various documents and reports that have been issued by federal and state entities over the last two years as satisfying the various regulatory thresholds to begin construction of the pipeline. It would essentially cut the Environmental Protection Agency out of the oversight process, and would force the Army Corps of Engineers to issue construction permits within 90 days of an application being filed. The president has threatened to veto the bill, though the Senate is unlikely to take it up in any case.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

Student Loan Interest Rate Reform – Final Passage
Vote Passed (221-198, 15 Not Voting)

In its last action before the recess, the House passed a bill to overhaul student loan interest rates. Interest rates are currently set to rise from 3.4 to 6.8 percent this summer. H.R. 1911 would set rates for Stafford loans at the level of the 10-year Treasury Note plus 2.5 percent (capped at 8.5 percent), while PLUS loans would be set at 10-year Treasuries plus 4.5 percent (capped at 10.5 percent). Though Republicans stated that the bill was modeled on reforms from President Obama’s FY 2014 budget, the president has threatened to veto the bill . It is not clear what the Senate intends to do about interest rates at this time.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

Posted 5-19-2013

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Internet Sales Tax – Final Passage
Vote Passed (69-27, 4 Not Voting)

Last week the Senate completed action on bipartisan but controversial Internet sales tax legislation. More than two-thirds of senators (all but five Democrats and about half of Republicans) agreed that states should be allowed to require online firms to collect the same sales taxes as their domiciled brick-and-mortar businesses. States would be required to provide free tax-calculation software to affected businesses. Firms with gross annual receipts of $1 million or less would be exempted from the new requirements. Prior to final passage the Senate adopted an amendment from Wyoming Republican Mike Enzi, one of the measure’s co-sponsors, which would extend the implementation timeline from three to six months and specify that requirements for filing returns and making tax payments must be the same for online and offline firms. President Obama supports S. 743, but House Speaker John Boehner and Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., have both expressed skepticism toward the legislation.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

*Water Infrastructure Projects – Amendment Vote
Vote Rejected (56-43, 1 Not Voting)

After passing the Internet sales tax bill, the Senate moved on to the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), a catch-all piece of legislation usually passed every five years dealing with everything from dams and levees to port dredging. Traditionally one of the biggest magnets for pork barrel projects, this version of WRDA is the first since both chambers of Congress adopted earmark moratoria. Similar to last year’s highway bill, WRDA makes various changes to existing law in order to speed up project approval, including the imposition of financial penalties on tardy agencies. The bill also attempts to capture a larger share of the revenue that accrues to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund each year for actual harbor maintenance – a seemingly novel concept, yet one that Senate appropriators initially objected to, as they have grown accustomed to diverting much of the trust fund’s receipts to unrelated accounts. Several amendments were voted on last week, including this one from Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn that would enable individuals to bring guns on to Army Corps of Engineers-administered water projects. The amendment failed due to a 60-vote requirement. At week’s end the legislation had stalled over Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu’s insistence on a vote for her amendment that would prevent a rise in flood insurance premiums. The White House leveled several criticisms of the bill in its policy statement, though a manager’s amendment from Barbara Boxer and David Vitter, the chair and ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, may have addressed some of these issues.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Private Sector Comp Time – Final Passage
Vote Passed (223-204, 5 Not Voting)

The House passed a measure last week to allow private sector employers to provide comp time to their workers in lieu of overtime pay. Under current law, such an arrangement exists for most workers in the public sector and a few in the private sector. Republicans classified the measure as providing flexibility to both employers and employees, while Democrats and their allies in the labor movement suspect an attempt to weaken workers’ rights. In particular, they claim that there is no guarantee an individual will receive time off when he desires it and that employers could put pressure on workers to accept comp time instead of overtime. The White House seems to agree with these critiques, as it has threatened to veto the bill.

Always a shill for unions:

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Debt Payment Prioritization – Final Passage
Vote Passed (221-207, 4 Not Voting)

In its final action of the week, the House took another foray into debt limit politics. The "Full Faith and Credit Act" would mandate that in the event of the government hitting the debt limit, the Treasury Secretary would prioritize payment to holders of government debt and to Social Security recipients above all other obligations. These payments would in fact be exempt from the debt limit, such that the government could theoretically continue functioning, if only in order to issue Social Security checks and service the debt. No Democrats backed the measure, and the administration has threatened a veto.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

Posted 5-12-2013

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*OMB Director – Confirmation
Vote Confirmed (96-0, 4 Not Voting)

Last week, the Senate unanimously confirmed Sylvia Matthews Burwell to be the next director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The office oversees development of the president’s annual budget proposals and oversees the performance of federal agencies.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Internet Sales Tax – Cloture Motion
Vote Agreed to (63-30, 7 Not Voting)

Before leaving for a week-long recess, the Senate also approved a motion to invoke cloture on S. 743, the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013. S. 743 would allow states to require online retailers to collect sales and use taxes on purchases made by their residents. President Obama supports the measure, saying it would "level the playing field" for brick-and-mortar retailers. The bill is expected to pass when the Senate returns; House action is uncertain.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted NO
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted NO

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*High-Risk Insurance Pools – Rule Vote
Vote Passed (225-189, 18 Not Voting)

The House was expected to pass a bill to transfer funds from one Obamacare-created program to another last week, but after agreeing to a framework for debating the measure with this vote, Republican leaders concluded they did not have enough votes and pulled it from the floor. H.R. 1549 would transfer approximately $3.6 billion from the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which was created to fund various eponymous initiatives, to the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, which was created to provide health insurance coverage to individuals who could not obtain such insurance until 2014, when another Obamacare program, the health insurance exchanges, are scheduled to begin operation. President Obama has threatened to veto the bill if and when it does come up again.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*FAA Furloughs – Suspension Vote
Vote Passed (361-41, 30 Not Voting)

Responding to rising anger with flight delays around the country, Congress acted with rare celerity to avert further furloughs at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA had been forced to reduce the hours of its air traffic controllers as a result of the sequester. After several days of thousands of passengers experiencing delays (and presumably well aware that they would hear about it from constituents during the recess), the Senate passed a bill (S. 853) by unanimous consent allowing FAA to transfer up to $253 million to “prevent reduced operations and staffing.” Because the bill could be seen as a spending measure (though it spends no new funds), Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. secured unanimous consent that a House-passed bill with identical text to S. 853 would automatically pass the Senate as well. The House passed such a bill; it cleared the Senate in pro forma session on Tuesday, April 30. The White House stated last week that the President will sign the bill when it reaches his desk.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

*Federal Helium Sales – Suspension Vote
Vote Passed (394-1, 37 Not Voting)

The House passed a bill creating a framework for winding down operation of the Federal Helium Reserve. Under current law, the Reserve is mandated to cease commercial helium sales once it pays off its debt, which is expected to occur by October 2013. According to the House Natural Resources committee, the scheduled closure would cut domestic helium supplies in half. H.R. 527 would keep the reserve open with new operating instructions until its capacity is 3 billion cubic feet (down from 10 billion cubic feet at present), at which time commercial sales will no longer be authorized and remaining supplies will only be available for national security and scientific needs. Neither the administration nor Senate leaders have staked out positions on the measure.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted YES

posted 7-28-13

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Cordray Nomination – Confirmation
Vote Confirmed (66-34)

After an intense debate over a potential rules change to ban filibusters on executive branch nominations, the Senate proceeded to confirm several nominees offered by President Barack Obama. Richard Cordray of Ohio was confirmed as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, ending a two year confirmation process that included an illegal recess appointment in the beginning of last year. Twelve Republicans and the entire Democratic caucus voted in support of the nomination.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Perez Nomination – Confirmation
Vote Confirmed (54-46)

On Thursday, President Obama's nomination for Secretary of Labor, Thomas E. Perez, was confirmed by the Senate in a strictly party-line vote. Perez previously served as an Assistant Attorney General leading the Justice Department's civil rights division.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*McCarthy Nomination – Confirmation
Vote Confirmed (59-40, 1 Not Voting)

After confirming Perez, the Senate quickly moved to confirm Gina McCarthy as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. McCarthy had served as the head of the EPA's air and radiation office since 2009. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia was the only dissenting Democrat vote, and six Republicans voted in favor of the nomination.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Employer Health Insurance Mandate Delay – Passage
Vote Passed (264-161, 8 Not Voting)

The House passed this bill that would delay a requirement from the 2010 health care overhaul for one year until the start of 2015. The requirement would mandate businesses with at least 50 full-time employees provide health insurance to their workers or pay a penalty. Morgan Griffith of Virginia was the only Republican to vote against the bill.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Individual Health Insurance Mandate Delay – Passage
Vote Passed (251-174, 8 Not Voting)

After postponing the employer insurance mandate, the House moved a bill to postpone the same requirement of most individuals to maintain health insurance coverage or pay a penalty until the beginning of 2015. Once again, Griffith of Virginia was the only Republican to vote against the bill. Both the employer and individual mandate delays are unlikely to receive a vote in the Senate.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

*Education Law Overhaul – Passage
Vote Passed (221-207, 6 Not Voting)

In the last vote of the week, the House passed its updated version of federal education policy despite a veto threat from President Obama and unified Democratic opposition to the legislation. The bill would extend for an additional five years the elementary and secondary education law that was last reauthorized in 2001 as part of President George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind initiative. The bill would reduce the federal government's role in education and give state and local officials more authority to develop their own standards and accountability assessments. The House adopted by voice vote an amendment from Republican Steve Scalise of Louisiana that would eliminate a requirement that states develop teacher evaluation systems. The Senate will most likely take up the legislation after the August recess.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

--------------------------

posted 7-9-13

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Pritzker Nomination – Confirmation
Vote Confirmed (97-1, 2 Not Voting)

The Senate confirmed President Obama's nomination of Penny Pritzker to be Secretary of Commerce. Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., was the only vote against the Chicago real estate and investment executive's confirmation. She had served on the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness and Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Secretary Pritzker was sworn in one day after her confirmation, June 26.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Foxx Nomination – Confirmation
Vote Confirmed (100-0)

In their second Cabinet level vote of the week, the Senate unanimously confirmed current mayor of Charlotte, N.C. Anthony Foxx to be Secretary of Transportation. Mr. Foxx should be sworn in later this week after his planned resignation in Charlotte on July 1.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*Immigration Bill – Passage
Vote Passed (68-32)

After months of negotiations led by a bipartisan group of eight lawmakers, the Senate passed a sweeping overhaul of immigration policy by a vote of 68-32. Fourteen Republicans joined all Democrats in supporting the bill, which gained traction after a compromise amendment providing $42.5 billion for border security initiatives passed the day before. The measure would expand the number of both permanent resident and temporary visas available annually to highly-skilled professionals and entrepreneurs. The bill also would create a program to allocate green cards, up to 250,000 each year, on a merit-based system that would consider family ties in the United States along with the country's economic needs. It mandates use of the E-Verify electronic employment verification system and requires the Department of Homeland Security to begin removal proceedings for at least 90 percent of people who stay beyond the duration of their visas. Perhaps most importantly, it offers an incremental 13-year path to citizenship for most of the 20 million immigrants living in the United States illegally, with expedited processes for some agricultural workers and young immigrants. Conservative House members have expressed opposition to this portion of the bill. The bill is also loaded with pork and according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) it will neither stem the flow of illegal aliens over the border nor will it reduce the costs to American taxpayers by curtailing government funded benefits to those here illegally.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Offshore Drilling Bill – Passage
Vote Passed (235-186, 13 Not Voting)

Before leaving for the July 4th recess, the House passed a bill that would direct the Interior secretary to implement a five-year oil and gas leasing program off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, including areas off of California, South Carolina and Virginia. The vote largely broke along party lines, with 16 Democrats voting in favor of the bill and 6 Republicans voting no. Five of the six GOP no votes came from the New Jersey delegation. The bill would make at least half of the unleased coastal areas with the most potential for energy production available for exploration and would create a nationwide revenue sharing system for all coastal states. Before passing the bill, the chamber narrowly defeated (209-210) a Democratic amendment by Alan Grayson of Florida that would prevent the bill from affecting states' authority to restrict leasing and natural-resource development beneath states' navigable waters. Reps. Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore. And Lois Capps, D-Calif. also offered amendments to protect sensitive coastline in Alaska and California. Both were defeated. The House adopted (217-202) a Paul Broun, R-Ga., amendment that would place a 60-day limit on judicial review of claims arising from projects in the leasing program. It would place restrictions on appeals and institute a "loser pays" requirement on individuals or entities filing suit, except in specified circumstances.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

posted 6-30-13

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Froman Nomination – Confirmation
Vote Confirmed (93-4, 1 Present, 2 Not Voting)

The Senate took a short break from the immigration bill to confirm President Barack Obama’s nomination of Michael Froman to be United States Trade Representative. He replaces Ron Kirk, who resigned in March. Froman was previously Obama’s deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs. He is now tasked with the Cabinet-level position handling international trade agreements and investment issues on behalf of the administration.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

*U.S. Immigration Policy – Motion to Table Cornyn Amendment
Vote Agreed to (54-43, 3 Not Voting)

The Senate’s last vote of the week on Thursday was the approval of Majority Leader Harry Reid’s motion to table (kill) Texas Republican John Cornyn’s amendment that would require the Homeland Security Department to verify certain standards, including a 90 percent apprehension rate of illegal border crossers and a biometric screening system at all seaports and airports, are met before illegal immigrants could be granted permanent legal status. The largely partisan vote included only two Democrats, Manchin (W.Va.) and Pryor (Ark.) voting no; four Republicans voted yes: Flake and McCain (Ariz.), Graham (S.C.) and Paul (Ky.). Since our senators are in favor of open borders regardless ow economic and sovereignty consequences:

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*Abortion Ban – Passage
Vote Passed (228-196, 10 Not Voting)

The House detoured briefly from debating the farm bill to pass a measure that forbids abortions performed at 20 weeks after fertilization or later. The bill makes an exception for cases where the woman’s life is in danger or where rape or incest has been reported to authorities. Under the measure, physicians who violate the ban would face a maximum five-year prison sentence, fines or both. Six Republicans voted against the legislation, while six Democrats voted in favor. The justification for the 20-week limit was the belief that an unborn fetus can feel pain by 20 weeks of pregnancy. Although the medical veracity of this theory is debated, a handful of states have passed laws with the same benchmark. The White House issued a veto threat on the bill, and Democrats who control the Senate are expected to ignore the measure. Since our representative is in favor of killing babies at any stage of development:

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted
NO

*Farm Bill – Passage
Vote Failed (195-234, 6 Not Voting)

After working through more than 100 amendments, the House nevertheless rejected a five-year, $939 billion reauthorization of agricultural and nutrition programs. Sixty-two Republicans rebelled against their leaders and voted against the bill. All but two dozen Democrats voted no as well. Nutritional aid to the poor was the major point of conflict for the bill’s passage for both sides of the aisle. Although the bill cuts $33 billion from current law, the chamber’s most conservative Republican members argued spending reductions did not go far enough. Democrats, however, claimed that the bill’s $20.5 billion in cuts to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) – made mainly by changing eligibility requirements – would disproportionately harm low-income families. Democrats also objected to a provision that mandated work requirements for SNAP recipients. Like the Senate bill, the measure would have ended direct payments to farmers, replacing them with revenue protections that would assist farmers when county revenue levels fall 15 percent to 25 percent below a five-year benchmark. It also consolidated several rural conservation programs. With the bill’s defeat, the House now will have to draft a new bill, adopt the one the Senate passed earlier this month, or pass another one-year extension like Congress had to do last year.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO

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posted 6-21-13

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. SENATE:

*Farm Bill – Passage
Vote Passed (66-27, 7 Not Voting)

The Senate gave overwhelming approval to the five-year reauthorization of farm, conservation, and nutrition programs, setting up a legislative showdown with the House. The final vote, which cleared the measure 66-27, came after two weeks of debate and more than 200 amendments offered on the Senate floor. Seven senators missed the vote because of travel delays. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Senate bill would cost $18 billion less than the 2008 farm policy law (PL 112-240), which expires Sept. 30. Senators trimmed $4 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides food aid to the poor, by requiring that recipients receive a minimum payment of $10 from a heating assistance program to be eligible for SNAP. Nutrition assistance will be a major sticking point with the House version, which cuts SNAP by $20.5 billion. The Senate bill ends $5 billion a year in direct payments made to farmers and landowners, channeling off those funds to create a hybrid of insurance-like plans and other price controls to help farmers protect against steep market drops. It would reduce support for farmers earning more than $750,000 annually, following a study on the effects of implementation. Unlike the House measure, the bill requires subsidized insurance program participants to meet soil and water conservation requirements. It also replaces dairy price support programs with new insurance and a supply management plan to reduce price-depressing supply surpluses. Before passing the bill, the chamber adopted, 48-38, an amendment from Vermont Democrat Patrick J. Leahy that would provide for ultra-high-speed broadband service in a rural Internet pilot program. The bill was so loaded with pork that it had something for virtually every senator to take back to their constituents at taxpayer expense.

Sen. Ron Wyden voted YES
Sen. Jeff Merkley voted YES

RECENT VOTES IN THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

*FY 2014 Defense Authorization – Passage
Vote Passed (315-108, 11 Not Voting)

After voting on a series of amendments, including rejecting one from Adam Smith, D-Wash. to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba by the end of 2014, the House passed this bill authorizing spending on the Defense Department and national security programs for fiscal year 2014. Ignoring the White House administration’s threat to veto the bill, they passed a $638.4 billion measure that includes $85.8 billion for war costs, requirements for the Defense secretary to detail military intervention options in Syria, and new guidelines and harsher penalties for sexual assault in the armed services. Sexual assault amendments from Lois Frankel, D-Fla., and Michael R. Turner, R-Ohio, making it an offense to abuse one’s authority in the chain of command and establishing mandatory minimum sentences of discharge, dismissal and confinement for certain offenses, respectively, were adopted.

Rep. Peter DeFazio voted NO