Sept 2013 Congressional Votes

Recent Senate Votes

Continuing Resolution – Vote Agreed to (54-44, 2 Not Voting)

After receiving the House approved stopgap spending measure that removed funds for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the Senate passed an amended version on a completely party-line vote, 54-44. Republican Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Orrin G. Hatch of Utah were the only members who did not vote on the bill. The Senate-approved version eliminated the House language to defund the Affordable Care Act and would fund the government only through Nov. 15 at an annualized rate of $986.3 billion.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted NO
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted NO

Recent House Votes

Continuing Resolution – Medical Device Tax Repeal Amendment – Vote Passed (248-174, 9 Not Voting)

After the Senate amended and approved its version of the government funding legislation, the House voted on two amendments to the legislation in the early hours of Sunday. The first vote approved Minnesota Republican Erik Paulsen’s amendment that would remove the medical device tax implemented to help fund the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. 17 Democrats joined Republicans to approve the amendment.

Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted NO

Continuing Resolution – Defunding of the Affordable Care Act Amendment – Vote Passed (231-192, 8 Not Voting)

The second amendment, sponsored by Republican Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, would reinstate the House language eliminated in the Senate bill to remove funding for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Only 2 Democrats (Jim Matheson of Utah and Mike McIntyre of North Carolina) and 2 New York Republicans (Chris Gibson and Richard Hanna) crossed party lines to vote in favor of or against the amendment, respectively.

Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted NO

Sept 23, 2013

Recent House Votes

Mineral Development Bill – Vote Passed (246-178, 8 Not Voting)

In a party-line vote, the House passed legislation that would speed up reviews of mineral exploration and mining permits. All House Republicans were joined by 15 Democrats in voting for the bill. Opponents cited provisions that limit a previous environmental law’s safeguard regulations over exploration and permitting.

Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted YES

Nutrition Assistance – Vote Passed (217-210, 6 Not Voting)

The House chose to split agriculture policy from food aid early in the summer, resulting in the passage of a farm bill without nutrition assistance in July. Last week, under threat of veto from the White House, the House approved a nutrition bill that results in a $40 billion reduction in the program over the next ten years, which is about 5% of current spending on nutrition assistance. The House bill would also seek to make permanent the separation of farm and nutrition legislation by authorizing the former through fiscal year 2018 and the latter only through fiscal year 2016. It would also remove the policy of states qualifying people for food aid based on non-cash aid or services they receive from other programs for low-income people. The Senate approved their comprehensive farm and nutrition legislation in June. The Senate bill and the two House bills will now go to a conference committee to try and produce a final piece of legislation.

Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted NO

Continuing Resolution – Vote Passed (230-189, 13 Not Voting)

At the end of last week, the House passed legislation to fund the government through December 15. The resolution removed funds for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, a key victory for the House Republicans that align with the various tea party groups. It also authorizes the Treasury Department to continue borrowing above the $16.7 trillion statutory debt limit once it is reached, through December 15, 2014. Scott Rigell of Virginia was the only Republican to vote in opposition of the resolution, and Mike McIntyre of North Carolina and Jim Matheson of Utah were the only Democrats to vote in favor. Next, the Senate will debate the resolution and likely send a version back to the House with funding for the Affordable Care Act reinstated. Congress has until October 1, the start of the next fiscal year, to approve a continuing resolution and avoid a government shutdown.

Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted NO

Upcoming Votes

Continuing Resolution – H.J.RES.59

The Senate will debate and likely vote on the continuing resolution passed by the House last week.

Continuing Resolution – H.J.RES.59

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., has warned members that they may have to be in session this upcoming weekend to consider the continuing resolution after the Senate makes its changes and sends it back to the House.

Sept 16, 2013

Recent House Votes
Health Care Subsidy – Vote Passed (235-191, 6 Not Voting)

Returning last week from the August recess, the House passed a bill that would block premium and cost-sharing subsidies under the 2010 health care reform law until a program to verify household income and other qualifications for the subsidies is certified as operational. Only five Democrats joined the entire Republican caucus to vote in favor of the legislation sponsored by Tennessee Republican Diane Black. The Senate is unlikely to vote on the bill, and the White House administration has already vowed to veto it.

Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted NO

Aug 2013 Congressional Votes

Recent Senate Votes

James B. Comey, Jr. Nomination to be Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation– Confirmation – Vote Confirmed (93-1, 2 Present, 4 Not Voting)

The Senate voted to confirm James B. Comey, Jr. to be Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a term of ten years. Comey, a former senior official at the Justice Department, succeeds Robert S. Mueller III, who served as director since 2001.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted YES
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted YES

Byron Todd Jones Nomination to be Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives – Confirmation – Vote Confirmed (53-42, 5 Not Voting)

On July 31, the Senate voted to confirm former United States district attorney Byron Todd Jones to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois was the lone Republican to vote for confirmation.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted NO
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted NO

Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Appropriations – Cloture – Vote Rejected (54-43, 3 Not Voting)

The Senate failed to reach the 60 votes required to end debate on the fiscal year 2014 Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill on August 1. Conservatives balked at the Senate Appropriations Committee’s inclusion of about $5.6 billion in spending more than current levels under the sequester. The $54 billion bill would be $2.3 billion more than the fiscal 2013 enacted level and $2.4 billion more than the Obama administration’s request. Much of the additional spending in the Senate bill comes from in the form of roads funding. The Senate bill would provide $550 million for infrastructure project funds, known as TIGER grants, an increase of $51 million from the pre-sequester fiscal 2013 level. House appropriators provided no funds for the program. The bill also would create an account that would provide $500 million for repairing “structurally deficient” or “functionally obsolete” bridges and crucial highway corridors.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted NO
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted NO

Samantha Power Nomination to be Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations – Confirmation – Vote Confirmed (87-10, 3 Not Voting)

In the final vote before August recess, the Senate confirmed the nomination of Samantha Power as U.S. Representative to the United Nations and the UN Security Council.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted YES
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted YES

Recent House Votes

Student Loan Interest Rates – Passage – Vote Passed (392-31, 10 Not Voting)

On July 31, the House voted to concur with Senate amendments to a bill that permanently sets federal student loan interest rates. The measure, approved 392-31, culminated weeks of negotiation to reach a bipartisan deal after interest rates doubled for many loans on July 1. The bill annually would link the rates charged on new student loans to the rate paid in June on 10-year Treasury notes. The terms would apply to all new federal student loans, except for low-interest Perkins loans made to needy students. The premium charged in addition to the 10-year base rate would include 2.05 percentage points for subsidized and unsubsidized portions of undergraduate loans, 3.6 points for graduate loans, and 4.6 points for PLUS loans made to graduate students and parents of undergraduates. Rates would be capped at 8.25 percent, 9.5 percent and 10.5 percent, respectively, for the three classes of loans. The market-based rate system is similar to a plan proposed by the White House in its fiscal 2014 budget, and President Obama is expected to sign it.

Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted YES

Iranian Sanctions – Passage – Vote Passed (400-20, 1 Present, 13 Not Voting)

House lawmakers voted 400-20 on July 31 to pass a bill aimed at reducing Iran’s oil exports and further isolating its economy. The bill would compel countries currently purchasing crude oil from Iran to reduce their combined purchases by a total of 1 million barrels per day within a year. Failure to comply would prompt a loss in those nations’ ability to obtain “significant reduction” sanction exemptions that let them continue to purchase Iranian oil. It also would expand the list of Iranian industries effectively blacklisted, further limit Iran’s access to overseas foreign currency reserves and impose additional shipping sanctions to limit Iran’s ability to engage in international commerce. Earlier in the week, Democratic and Republican sponsors of the bill brushed off pressure to delay the vote, saying that passage would send an important signal to Iran’s incoming president about the cost of continuing to advance a nuclear program.

Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted YES

Affordable Care Act Implementation – Passage – Vote Passed (232-185, 16 Not Voting)

On August 2, the House passed a bill designed to block the Treasury Department from enforcing key components of the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The vote, the last before members left for August recess, represented the 40th time the House has passed measures to repeal or dismantle the health care reform law. Four Democrats voted for the measure, which was supported by all Republicans. The bill prohibits the Secretary of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service from enforcing penalties the 2010 law would levy on those who do not purchase health insurance when the law goes into full effect in 2014. The vote culminated what House leaders dubbed “Stop Government Abuse Week.”

Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted NO

July 2013, Congressional Votes

July 29

Recent Senate Votes

Student Loan Interest Rates – Passage – Vote Passed (81-18, 1 Not Voting)

Senators moved to end a months-long partisan standoff over federal student loan interest rates by passing a bill July 24 that would tie rates to the government’s cost of borrowing. Sixteen Senate Democrats opposed the plan over concerns that the move to a variable rate would burden students with more debt in a couple of years. The bill would link student loan interest rates to the 10-year Treasury note. Senators adopted a substitute amendment by voice vote that would add 2.05 percentage points to the note rate for both the subsidized and unsubsidized portions of undergraduate loans, 3.6 points for graduate loans and 4.6 points for PLUS loans. As amended, the bill would cap the rates for undergraduate loans at 8.25 percent, graduate loans at 9.5 percent and PLUS loans at 10.5 percent. The current bill differs only slightly from the original version, which also set the interest rates on the 10-year Treasury note and passed the House, 221-198, in May. The House is expected to clear the measure this week. The White House, which threatened to veto the original House bill, backs the Senate compromise.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted YES
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted YES

Recent House Votes

Defense Appropriations – NSA Phone Record Collection Amendment – Vote Failed (205-217, 12 Not Voting)

An unlikely pair of Michiganders, Republican Justin Amash and Democrat John Conyers Jr. united to ensure a House floor vote on the Amash sponsored amendment to the fiscal 2014 defense appropriations bill that would restrict collection of telephone records through Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court orders to only data involving people under investigation. 94 Republicans and 111 Democrats supported the bill; however, a group of 134 Republicans and 83 Democrats voted to kill the amendment. Republican John A. Boehner of Ohio voted no, a rare vote from the House Speaker that showed how close the vote was. The White House opposed the amendment.

Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted NO

Defense Appropriations—Final Passage – Vote Passed (315-109, 9 Not Voting)

After clearing numerous amendments, the House passed the C.W. Bill Young, R-Fla. sponsored legislation funding the Defense department for fiscal year 2014. After a split on the NSA amendment, 220 Republicans were joined by 95 Democrats in support of the bill with only 8 Republicans in opposition. It would provide $512.5 billion in non-war discretionary funding and $82.3 billion in contingency funds to support operations in Afghanistan and the general war on terrorism. The bill also includes a 1.8 percent pay raise for military personnel. The White House has already threatened to veto the legislation over provisions intended to limit executive branch budgetary and policy options, including effectively barring civilian furloughs in the next fiscal year, forbidding cuts in the strategic weapons arsenal and preventing spending to implement reductions required by the New START nuclear-arms agreement. The Senate likely won’t take up the legislation until after the August recess.

Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted YES

Coal Ash Regulations – Passage – Vote Passed (265-155, 13 Not Voting)

In the last vote of the week, the House passed a bill that would allow states to create and implement their own permit programs for coal combustion residuals, removing that authority from the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA would still be able to review state permit programs in a limited manner. The Senate is unlikely to consider the legislation.

Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted YES

July 22

Recent Senate Votes

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 a recess appointment in the beginning of last year. Twelve Republicans and the entire Democratic caucus voted in support of the nomination.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted YES
Sen. Johnny Isakson 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. Saxby Chambliss voted NO
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted NO

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. Saxby Chambliss voted NO
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted NO

Recent House Votes

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. Sanford Bishop Jr. 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. Sanford Bishop Jr. 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. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted NO

July 15

Recent Senate Votes

Student Loan Interest Rates – Cloture – Vote Rejected (51-49)

Senators failed to broker a temporary deal to maintain federal student loan interest rates, which rose automatically on July 1 to 6.8 percent. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., could not muster the 60 votes needed to invoke cloture on a bill that would have extended the previous interest rate of 3.4 percent for subsidized undergraduate loans for one year. Proposed by Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., the plan would have cost $4.25 billion, offset by changing the tax treatment of certain inherited IRAs and 401(k)s. The bill received no Republican support, ensuring under current Senate rules that it would not receive a final vote for passage.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted NO
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted NO

Recent House Votes

Energy-Water Appropriations – Passage – Vote Passed (227-198, 9 Not Voting)

After voting on more than two dozen amendments, the House passed the fiscal 2014 energy-water spending measure on Wednesday. A mostly party-line vote, with only 8 Democrats in support and 9 Republicans in opposition, the legislation would provide $30.4 billion for the Energy and Interior Departments and the Army Corps of Engineers, which is $2.9 billion less than the enacted level for fiscal 2013 and $4.3 billion less than legislation currently being considered in the Senate. The measure would combine renewable-energy and electricity delivery programs into a single account funded at $958 million, about a 50 percent reduction from this year. Ohio Republican Rep. Michael R. Turner’s amendment to prohibit funds in the Energy Department’s nuclear-weapons program from being used to reduce the U.S. nuclear stockpile below levels in the New Start Treaty was adopted by voice vote. Turner said it would prevent President Barack Obama from implementing his plan to reduce the nuclear arsenal. The legislation will now likely be taken up by the Senate.

Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted NO

Farm Bill – Passage – Vote Passed (216-208, 11 Not Voting)

After failing last month to approve a five-year $939 billion reauthorization of both agricultural and nutrition programs, the House decided to take a different approach and approved only agricultural programs through fiscal year 2018. The legislation passed without a single Democratic vote and twelve Republicans in opposition. The House will now try to pass a separate bill for nutrition programs that include the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). The Senate passed its version of the comprehensive legislation a month ago including $4 billion in reductions to SNAP; House Republicans have proposed $20.5 billion in cuts during committee mark-ups. Ultimate outcomes for the bill include either a conference committee between the Senate and House to negotiate a compromise or possibly another one-year extension like Congress had to do last year.

Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted NO

July 1

Recent Senate Votes

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. Saxby Chambliss voted YES
Sen. Johnny Isakson 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. Saxby Chambliss voted YES
Sen. Johnny Isakson 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 11 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.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted NO
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted NO

Recent House Votes

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. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted YES

June 2013, Congressional Votes

June 24

Recent Senate Votes

Froman Nomination – Confirmation – Vote Confirmed (93-4, 1 Present, 2 Not Voting)

Last Wednesday, 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. Saxby Chambliss voted YES
Sen. Johnny Isakson 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.).

Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted NO
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted NO

Recent House Votes

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.

Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. 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. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted NO

June 17

Recent Senate Votes

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.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted YES
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted YES

Recent House Votes

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 Guantánamo 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. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted YES

June 10

Recent Senate Votes

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. Saxby Chambliss voted YES
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted YES

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 three weeks to find a compromise solution before rates double on July 1.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted NO
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted NO

Recent House Votes

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 last Tuesday 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. Sanford Bishop Jr. 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. Sanford Bishop Jr. 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. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted NO

May 2013, Congressional Votes

May 28

Recent Senate Votes

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. Saxby Chambliss voted NO
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted NO

Recent House Votes

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. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted YES

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. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted NO

May 20

Recent Senate Votes

Water Resources Development Act – Passage – Vote Passed (83-14, 3 Not Voting)

The Senate laid down its marker last week for a full reauthorization of Army Corps of Engineers water projects with a broad, bipartisan majority. S. 601, shepherded to passage by liberal Environment and Public Works chairman Barbara Boxer of California and conservative ranking Republican David Vitter of Louisiana, reauthorizes port and harbor dredging, levees, dams, and storm repair for periods ranging from five to ten years. It also makes numerous reforms to current permitting procedures in an attempt to reduce the amount of time needed to get projects approved and under way. Several of the latter provisions are controversial, particularly language that would impose financial penalties on laggard agency heads. For that reason a compromise was negotiated to sunset the streamlining reforms after 10 years. Another major change concerns the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF), the primary funding vehicle for dredging coastal and Great Lakes ports. Though conceived as a dedicated fund for harbor maintenance, in practice congressional appropriators in recent years have diverted HMTF dollars to unrelated projects. S. 601 would slowly end that practice, increasing the amount of funding dedicated to harbor maintenance by $100 million annually for six years, after which time all HMTF revenue would be so directed. Action now moves to the House side, where Transportation and Infrastructure committee chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa. has begun having hearings but appears in no rush.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted YES
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted YES

CMS Nominee – Confirmation – Vote Confirmed (91-7, 2 Not Voting)

The Senate confirmed Marilyn Tavenner to be the next administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Tavenner will play a prominent role in overseeing implementation of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. She is the first Senate-confirmed CMS administrator since 2004.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted YES
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted YES

Energy Department Nominee – Confirmation – Vote Confirmed (97-0, 3 Not Voting)

In its last action of the week, the Senate unanimously confirmed MIT physicist Ernest J. Moniz to be the next Energy secretary, replacing another physicist, Steven Chu.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted YES
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted YES

Recent House Votes

Obamacare Repeal – Passage – Vote Passed (229-195, 9 Not Voting)

The House took its three dozenth or so vote last week on repealing the 2010 health care overhaul. We noted in this space last week that, as introduced, the bill appeared not to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a body created by the law to reduce supply-side Medicare expenditures. It is not clear whether this was a clerical error, or perhaps whether House Republicans had a separate bill dealing with IPAB – Phil Roe of Tennessee has introduced such a bill, and IPAB repeal did pass the House last Congress – but the version of H.R. 45 that passed leaves no such ambiguity. Democrats Mike McIntyre of North Carolina and Jim Matheson of Utah – both very conservative by their caucus’s standards and in very competitive districts – joined all Republicans in voting ‘yes.’ As with each previous attempt at wholesale repeal, this bill will go nowhere in the Senate. The president issued a perfunctory veto threat.

Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted NO

SEC Cost-Benefit Analysis – Passage – Vote Passed (235-161, 37 Not Voting)

In its final action of the week, the House took aim at one of Wall Street’s main regulators, the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC). Republicans have long complained that federal regulations are impeding economic recovery. In that spirit, H.R. 1062 would require the SEC to change its rulemaking procedures by conducting cost-benefit analyses before issuing new rules and two years after a rule takes effect. The bill would also require the agency to review existing rules and alter or repeal them if they are not working. Democrats largely opposed the bill, though 17 did cross over to support the bill. Opponents largely framed the measure as a Trojan horse for dismantling the 2010 overhaul of financial regulations. The administration is opposed to the bill, and it is unlikely to be taken up in the Senate.

Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted NO

May 13

Recent Senate Votes

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. Saxby Chambliss voted YES
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted YES

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. Though a cloture vote is currently scheduled for May 14, it appears that there is some agreement on a vote for the Landrieu amendment. 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. Saxby Chambliss voted YES
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted YES

Recent House Votes

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.

Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. 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. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted NO

Upcoming Votes
Water Resources Development Act of 2013 – S.601
The Senate will continue debating the water infrastructure bill this week. If no agreement on amendments is reached beforehand, a cloture vote on the measure will take place May 14.

Nominations –
The Senate may vote on the nominations of Ernest Moniz for Energy secretary and Marilyn Tavenner to oversee the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which manages the two health care programs.

To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 – H.R.45
The House is scheduled to vote on a bill to repeal “Obamacare.” Curiously the bill as currently written appears not to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a body created by the law to make binding recommendations on Medicare cuts, which congressional Republicans have previously targeted individually for repeal.

SEC Regulatory Accountability Act – H.R.1062
The House is also scheduled to take up a measure that would amend the charter of the SEC to force the agency to conduct cost-benefit analyses before issuing new regulations.

April 2013, Congressional Votes

April 29

Recent Senate Votes

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. Saxby Chambliss voted YES
Sen. Johnny Isakson 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. Saxby Chambliss voted NO
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted YES

Recent House Votes

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. Sanford Bishop Jr. 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 last Friday; it is expected to clear the Senate when that body meets 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. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted YES

Federal Helium Sales – Suspension Vote – Vote Passed (394-1, 37 Not Voting)

In its final action of the week, 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. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted YES

April 22

Recent Senate Votes

Firearms Legislation – Concealed-Carry Reciprocity Amendment – Vote Rejected (57-43)

This proposal from Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas would allow someone with a permit to carry a concealed weapon the right to carry it in any state which has a concealed-carry law. The amendment states that permit holders from other states must abide by the laws of states in which they are located, though it would prohibit states from placing restrictions on individuals with out-of-state permits, treating such individuals as if they carried an “unrestricted” permit. The remainder of the failed amendments included proposals to reinstate and expand a ban on so-called assault weapons; to ban ammunition magazines holding more than ten rounds; and to prevent veterans from being deemed “mental defectives” – thus losing their ability to own firearms – without a court decision. Two amendments did pass muster. The first, offered by Wyoming Republican John Barrasso, would penalize states and localities for publicizing gun ownership data. The second, from HELP committee leaders Tom Harkin, D-Iowa and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., would overhaul the nation’s mental health system. (Roll Calls 100-105)

Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted YES
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted YES

Firearms Legislation – Background Checks Amendment – Vote Rejected (54-46)

The Senate voted on a flurry of amendments to the first major legislative response to last December’s massacre in Newtown, CT. In a sign of the difficulty facing proponents of stronger gun laws, most of the amendments were defeated, beginning with a proposal by pro-gun senators Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. and Pat Toomey, R-Pa. to strengthen background checks. The Toomey-Manchin amendment would have expanded the current system to include all sales at gun shows and on the Internet. Though initially hailed as a critical breakthrough, the amendment’s prospects died a slow death in the days leading up to the actual vote, as fence-sitting senators from both parties declared their opposition one by one. Ultimately five Democrats opposed the amendment – Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. (Reid voted “no” for procedural reasons which would allow him to call up the amendment for a vote at a later date.) Baucus, Begich and Pryor all face difficult re-elections next year in states that favored Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential contest. Four Republicans supported the amendment – Susan Collins of Maine, Mark Kirk of Illinois, John McCain of Arizona, and co-sponsor Toomey.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted NO
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted NO

Firearms Legislation – Republican Substitute Amendment – Vote Rejected (52-48)

The second failed amendment was a Republican substitute offered by Judiciary committee ranking member Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Most Republicans have decried Democratic proposals for reducing gun violence as threatening to Americans’ Second Amendment rights and have emphasized in their own proposals a “law and order” approach. This is reflected in the Republican alternative, which would make it a federal crime to purchase guns on behalf of those legally barred from owning them; expand the scope of mental illnesses barring some individuals from owning firearms; and create a special task force focused on attempted firearms purchases by felons and fugitives. Nine Democrats supported the Republican proposal, while two Republicans opposed it.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted YES
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted YES

Firearms Legislation – Straw Purchases Amendment – Vote Rejected (58-42)

Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vt. co-sponsored an amendment that would make it a federal crime to buy guns on behalf of someone legally barred from possessing them, a practice called straw purchasing. The amendment fell just two votes short of adoption. (In a concession to the reality of a likely Republican filibuster, Majority Leader Reid agreed to raise the threshold for adoption of all amendments to 60 votes instead of the usual 51.)

Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted NO
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted NO

Recent House Votes

Cybersecurity Intelligence Sharing – Vote Passed (288-127, 17 Not Voting)

The House last week passed a bill to boost intelligence-sharing between federal agencies and private firms. Entities within the departments of Homeland Security and Justice would be designated for receipt of threat information and reporting of crimes from the private sector. It would outline procedures for sharing such information within the federal government and between the federal government, other levels of government and the private sector. Various concessions were made to assuage concerned advocates for privacy rights and civil liberties, including restrictions on the use of information, a sunset clause, and a mandatory report on the legislation’s impact on privacy and civil liberties. Ultimately these groups were not persuaded; neither was the president, who has issued a veto threat.

Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted YES

April 16

Recent Senate Votes

Interior Secretary Confirmation – Vote Confirmed (87-11, 2 Not Voting)

Last week the Senate confirmed Sally Jewell, former CEO of outdoor retailer REI, to be the next secretary of the Department of Interior.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted NO
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted YES

Gun Control – Cloture Vote – Vote Agreed to (68-31, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate also agreed to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to comprehensive firearms–related legislation that has been in the works since the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last December. Sixteen Republicans agreed to move forward with the bill, while two Democrats facing tough re-election battles next year – Mark Begich of Alaska and Mark Pryor of Arkansas – voted against ending debate. Though it is unclear what shape a final bill will take – or even whether any substantive measure can garner enough support to pass – supporters are hoping to include a strengthened background checks measure sponsored by Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania; language strengthening penalties for straw purchasers; and expanded funding for school safety. If a bill does make it out of the Senate, its fate would be even more uncertain in the Republican-controlled House. President Obama issued a statement in support of S. 649.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted YES
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted YES

Recent House Votes
Limit on NLRB Activity – Vote Passed (219-209, 4 Not Voting)

In January, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in Noel Canning v. NLRB that three recess appointments made by President Obama to the National Labor Relations Board were invalid because they did not take place during the court’s definition of a recess. Republican leaders of the House Education and the Workforce Committee called on the Board to “cease all activity” until new nominees could be appointed and confirmed. Last week the full House approved a bill that would mandate such an approach. H.R. 1120 would prevent NLRB from engaging in any activity requiring a quorum of its members – the threshold necessary for issuing legally binding rulings – until such time as the Canning decision is overturned by the Supreme Court or sufficient new members are confirmed to constitute a quorum. The White House condemned the measure and threatened a veto. It is unlikely to see Senate action.

Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted NO

Hydropower Facility Development – Suspension Vote – Vote Passed (416-7, 8 Not Voting)

The House passed a bill last week under suspension of the rules that would streamline the permitting process for small hydropower facilities. The House passed a similar bill last year that was not taken up by the Senate.

Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted YES

March 2013, Congressional Votes

March 26, 2013

Recent Senate Votes

Fiscal 2013 Continuing Appropriations – Passage – Vote Passed (73-26, 1 Not Voting)

With a week left to avert a government shutdown, Senators passed a stopgap measure to keep federal funds flowing for the remainder of fiscal 2013. The Senate slightly expanded the spending package included in the original bill the House of Representatives passed on March 6, which only included full appropriations for Defense, Military Construction, and Veterans’ Affairs. Through a last-minute amendment put forth by Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., senators added additional spending provisions from three other related bills. The Senate approved Mikulski’s amendment 70-29 (roll call 42), less than an hour before the bill’s final passage roll call vote. All told, the bill appropriated $517.7 billion for the Defense Department, $71.9 billion for veterans programs and military construction projects, $39.6 billion for the Department of Homeland Security, $20.5 billion for the Department of Agriculture and $50.2 billion for commerce, law enforcement and science programs. Spending on all other government programs will remain flat from fiscal 2012 rates. The bill made slight spending cuts from the earlier stopgap spending bill set to expire on March 27 to get federal outlays under the discretionary spending caps of the 2011 debt limit law (PL 112-25). The senate rejected several floor amendments that cut funds from Homeland Security and defense biofuel programs. Senator Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., relented on consideration for the single-largest spending cut amendment, which would have redirected nearly $381 million in spending for the Army’s Medium Extended Air Defense System. Ayotte’s opposition to the program had held up final consideration of the bill for a week. The bill returned to the House the next day and received a motion to concur to its amended status, passing it to the president’s desk for signing.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted YES……send e-mail or see bio
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted YES……send e-mail or see bio

Fiscal 2014 Senate Budget Resolution – Adoption – Vote Agreed to (50-49, 1 Not Voting)

Just before 5:00 in the morning on Saturday, the Senate passed its first budget resolution in four years by a single vote. Four Democrats – Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas – voted with Senate Republicans against the measure. Final passage arrived after senators spent 13 hours considering dozens of floor amendments on a huge swath of policy areas. Without any force of law, the nonbinding resolution laid out Senate Democrats’ alternative to the House budget, which passed two days before on a largely party-line vote (roll call 88). The Senate blueprint laid out $975 in new revenue and $975 in spending cuts over 10 years that promised to reduce the budget deficit $1.8 trillion in all. It also included additional economic stimulus and infrastructure investment funds supported by the White House. During floor debate, the Senate rejected a substitute budget put forth by Rand Paul of Kentucky that slashed spending by $9.6 trillion and cut taxes by $2.3 trillion over 10 years (roll call 69). Another Senate conservative firebrand, Texan Ted Cruz, offered unsuccessful amendments to repeal the Affordable Care Act (roll call 51), cut foreign aid to Egypt and build missile defense batteries on the East Coast (roll call 85), and withhold American funds to the United Nations until China rescinded its one-child population control policy (roll call 86). Republicans received Democratic support to pass amendments endorsing the Keystone XL pipeline (roll call 61), eliminating subsidies to the largest banks (roll call 70), and initiating a biennial budget process (roll call 65.) Senate Democrats played amendment tug-of-war, too. New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen successfully introduced an amendment backing women’s family planning and birth control access provided under the Affordable Care Act (roll call 54). Rhode Islander Sheldon Whitehouse’s amendment to create a carbon tax to combat global warming, however, failed (roll call 58).

Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted NO……send e-mail or see bio
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted NO……send e-mail or see bio

Recent House Votes

FY 2014 Budget Resolution – Adoption – Vote Passed (220-207, 4 Not Voting)

On Thursday of last week, the House agreed to adopt the concurrent resolution introduced a week earlier by sponsor Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., that would provide $2.769 trillion in new budget authority for FY2014, not including off-budget accounts. It assumed that the spending levels set by the sequester would stay in place and the discretionary savings from the sequester will come from nondefense programs. It also included the repeal of the 2010 health care overhaul and changed Medicare to a “premium support” system starting in 2024. In addition, the resolution called for changes to the tax code, including the consolation of the individual income tax brackets from six to two and the reduction or elimination of some tax credits and deductions. In addition to mapping out government spending levels for FY 2014, the resolution included “appropriate budgetary levels for FY2015-FY2023” that would assume $5.7 trillion in reductions over the next ten years in discretionary and mandatory spending. Prior to adopting H. Con. Res. 25, on Wednesday the House rejected five amendments that would have provided alternative budget plans: the Senate’s Concurrent Resolution from Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C. (Roll Call 83); the Congressional Black Caucus’ preparation from Robert C. Scott, D-Va. (Roll Call 84); the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ substitute from Raul M. Grijalva, D-Ariz. (Roll Call 85); the Republican Study Committee’s idea from Rob Woodall, R-Ga. (Roll Call 86); and the Democratic alternative from Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. (Roll Call 87). 171 Democrats attempted to force Republicans to pass or reject the conservative Woodall plan by voting present. That vote was the closest of any of the five to being approved.

Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted NO……send e-mail or see bio

FY 2013 Continuing Appropriations – Final Passage – Vote Passed (318-109, 4 Not Voting)

At the end of the legislative week, the House agreed to the Senate’s amendments to the bill that would approve the continuing appropriations through FY 2013 including $1.043 trillion in discretionary funds before the sequester. It funds departments and agencies at their FY2012 enacted levels, with adjustments for certain programs. The legislation provides $517.7 billion in base discretionary funding for the Defense Department, $71.9 billion for veterans programs and military construction, $20.5 billion for agriculture programs, $39.6 billion for the Department of Homeland Security and $50.2 billion for commerce, law enforcement and science programs. The legislation is now cleared for the president to sign into law, thus ending the lengthy process of funding government operations for FY2013.

Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted YES

March 12, 2013

Recent Senate Votes
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. Saxby Chambliss voted NO……send e-mail or see bio
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted NO……send e-mail or see bio

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. Saxby Chambliss voted NO……send e-mail or see bio
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted NO……send e-mail or see bio

Recent House Votes
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. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted YES……send e-mail or see bio

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. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted YES……send e-mail or see bio

Upcoming Votes
Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 – H.R.933

The Senate will take up the continuing appropriations measure on Monday and is expected to pass the measure this week. There appears to be agreement in the body to add full bills for Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, and Homeland Security.

Supporting Knowledge and Investing in Lifelong Skills (SKILLS) Act – H.R.803

This bill would largely consolidate several dozen workforce investment and job training programs into one in which funding would be doled out in block grants to states. The bill’s committee markup last week was notable for Democrats’ boycott of the proceedings. They said it was a partisan measure largely identical to a bill the committee passed last year along party lines.

Preserving Work Requirements for Welfare Programs Act of 2013 – H.R.890

The House is scheduled to consider this bill, passed out of the Ways and Means committee last week, to counteract a Health Human Services Department waiver program that Republicans say would dilute work requirements in the federal welfare program.

March 5, 2013

Senate Votes

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. Saxby Chambliss voted NO……send e-mail or see bio
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted NO……send e-mail or see bio

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. Saxby Chambliss voted NO……send e-mail or see bio
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted YES……send e-mail or see bio

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).

Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted YES……send e-mail or see bio
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted YES……send e-mail or see bio

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.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss voted NO……send e-mail or see bio
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted NO……send e-mail or see bio

House Votes

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. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted YES

Georgia Common Core

http://news.heartland.org/newspaper-article/2013/02/15/bill-would-withdraw-georgia-common-core

We have learned that our new state senator, Dr. Dean Burke, has been assigned to the Education Committee. Dr. Burke is at least familiar with Common Core Curriculum although to what extent we are not sure.

At our January meeting, we covered this issue and its potential problems as well as the fact that its passage changes the level of input from parents, teachers, and local school boards. After that meeting, we emailed to you a somewhat lengthy detail about CCC.

The below link will serve as an abstract to the previous information. Most important is the video of former Texas State School Superintendent, Robert Scott, who reviewed CCC for his state, and he discusses with Georgia senators his concerns of costs, testing, the curriculum itself, and teacher evaluation in the short video.

We encourage you to contact Senator Burke at 404-656-0040, and let him know that you would like to see passage of SB 167. This bill, which is sponsored by State Senator William Ligon, will withdraw Georgia from Common Core.

Feb 2013 Congressional Votes

Senate Votes

Gender-based Violence Prevention – Final Passage – Vote Passed (78-22)

The Senate passed a comprehensive reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) last week, 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. Saxby Chambliss voted YES……send e-mail or see bio
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted YES……send e-mail or see bio

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 by fellow Republicans 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 about whether the Republicans were filibustering Hagel by essentially requiring 60 votes to confirm him, 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. Saxby Chambliss voted NO……send e-mail or see bio
Sen. Johnny Isakson voted NO……send e-mail or see bio

Recent House Votes

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. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted YES……send e-mail or see bio

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. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted YES……send e-mail or see bio

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. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted Not Voting……send e-mail or see bio

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.

Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted Not Voting……send e-mail or see bio

Jan 2013, Congressional Votes

Recent House Votes
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. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted YES……send e-mail or see bio

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. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted YES……send e-mail or see bio

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. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted YES……send e-mail or see bio

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. Sanford Bishop Jr. voted Not Voting……send e-mail or see bio

Upcoming Votes
Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013 – H.R.152

The Senate is expected to take up the House-passed disaster aid package this week.

To ensure the complete and timely payment of the obligations of the United States Government until May 19, 2013, and for other purposes – H.R.325

Republicans appear to have given up their strategy of using the debt ceiling to extract concessions from President Obama on spending and entitlements. That does not mean they plan simply to raise it, however. Their new gambit, expected to be on the floor Wednesday, would actually suspend the ceiling until May 19. Simultaneously, it would introduce a requirement that if either house of Congress does not pass a budget resolution by April 15 (as technically required by law), members of that house would not be paid until 1) a budget is passed or 2) the end of the 113th Congress, whichever occurs first.