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


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.

66 amendments to cut the budget

By Phyllis Schlafly
So Refreshing — Congress Doing Its Job

Republican members of the House, goaded on by tea partiers, have made a good start in fulfilling their promise to cut $100 billion out of current spending of taxpayers’ money. The House approved 66 amendments, most on roll-call votes, to H.R. 1, the Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act for FY 2011.

Here is a sampling of those 66 amendments, which are only a drop in the bucket for dealing with the federal deficit, but they reveal some of the nonsense now imbedded in the federal budget. Democrats predicted that House members at home during the Washington’s Birthday recess would discover that constituents are angry about cuts, but congressmen report getting more kudos than complaints because the American people have wised up to the fact that government spending does not create jobs.

Amendment No. 8, sponsored by Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., and passed 231-191, prohibits the use of any funds in the act to design, renovate, construct or rent any United Nations headquarters. The UN was projected to spend $1.9 billion to make its headquarters even more luxurious than it already is.

Amendment No. 11, sponsored by Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., and passed 240 to 185, prohibits any of the act’s funds from being used by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America or its affiliates. This big vote reflects the 2010 election of many more pro-lifers and public opinion moving against taxpayer funding of abortions.

Amendment No. 79, sponsored by Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and passed 241 to 184, prohibits the use of any of the act’s funds to pay the salary of any Department of Health and Human Services employee who develops or promulgates regulations or guidance about ObamaCare’s health insurance exchanges. The public is still opposed to the mandates and the costs of ObamaCare.

Amendment No. 83, sponsored by Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., and passed 246 to 182, prohibits the IRS from using appropriated funds to enforce ObamaCare’s individual mandate to buy insurance. This vote probably reflects the news that the IRS is hiring 1,054 new agents to enforce the individual mandates and to fine Americans who don’t obey.

Amendment No. 84, sponsored by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., and passed 239 to 185, cuts out of the Environmental Protection Agency’s appropriation the $8.5 million budgeted for the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Registry, which was preparing to operate cap-and-trade. Pompeo said, “This data is the very foundation of the EPA’s effort to pursue its radical anti-jobs agenda.”

Amendment No. 100, sponsored by Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., and passed 268-163, wipes out an appropriation of $42,600,000 for the U.S. Institute of Peace and transfers it to the Spending Reduction Account. U.S. taxpayers have already sunk $720 million into this boondoggle and gave its bureaucrats an office building near the State Department.

Amendment No. 149, sponsored by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., and passed 244 to 149, prohibits giving any of the act’s funds to the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. That’s a welcome strike against global warming propaganda.

Amendment No. 154, sponsored by Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, and passed 235 to 187, prohibits any of the act’s funds from carrying out provisions of the Education Jobs Fund, that mandates that only Texas must certify that stimulus funds will be used to supplement and not supplant state funding of education programs. How’s that for telling one state how to spend its own money?

Amendment No. 196, sponsored by Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., and passed 217 to 209, reduces the appropriation for the National Endowment for the Arts by $20 million and transfers the money to the Spending Reduction Account. Too bad the House didn’t totally defund the NEA, since it has carried on years of offensive attacks on our culture.

Amendment No. 204, sponsored by Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., and passed 249 to 175, prohibits any of the act’s funds from being used for salaries and expenses for President Obama’s “czars,” who have not been confirmed by the Senate. It’s probably a tossup whether this, or defunding the redecoration of U.N. buildings, gets the popularity prize with Americans.

Amendment No. 208, sponsored by Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla. and passed 247 to 175, prohibits any of the act’s funds from being used for the Presidential Election Campaign Fund or the Presidential Primary Matching Payment Account. U.S. taxpayers have been increasingly registering their disapproval of this expenditure on their annual income tax returns.

Amendment No. 267, sponsored by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, and passed 241 to 187, prohibits the act’s funds from being used to implement ObamaCare this year, saving about $2.8 billion.

Amendment No. 404, sponsored by Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., and passed 244 to 181, prohibits any of the act’s funds from being used by the Federal Communications Commission to implement so-called “network neutrality.” Americans don’t want the government taking over supervision of the Internet.

ACORN Operative Moves To DNC


A longtime ACORN operative is about to take over the reins of the Democratic National Committee as its executive director – just in time to begin initial preparations for President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.

The activist in question is Patrick Gaspard. He currently holds the title of White House political affairs director, the same title Karl Rove held in President Bush’s administration.

Gaspard comes from the same world of radical left-wing community organizing that shaped Barack Obama. Gaspard is well schooled in the brutal, street-smart organizing tactics taught by the late Saul Alinsky, author of Rules for Radicals. He’s the hatchet man Obama sent to New York over a year ago to strong-arm then-Gov. David Paterson into dropping his reelection campaign. As executive director running the DNC’s day-to-day operations Gaspard will oversee Organizing for America, a project of the DNC supposedly modeled on Alinskyite organizing principles. (Former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine will remain as general chairman of the DNC.)

Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo to Haitian parents, very little is known about this Rasputin-like power behind the throne. Gaspard shuns publicity and is extremely reluctant to speak to the media on the record. Look him up on Nexis and you will find virtually nothing about this otherwise influential counselor to the leader of the free world.

But his colleagues hold him in high esteem. “Patrick is the best political mind of his generation in New York and maybe the nation,” according to Kevin Sheekey, a lieutenant of New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. “I wouldn’t dispute that,” added David Axelrod, a senior advisor in the Obama White House.

Gaspard came to the White House from ACORN’s favorite labor organization, Service Employees International Union. (SEIU Locals 100 and 880 were until recently official affiliates of ACORN.) He had been executive vice president for political and legislative affairs for SEIU Local 1199 United Healthcare Workers East, which claims to be the largest union local on the planet “representing more than 300,000 members and retirees in New York, Maryland, the District of Columbia and Massachusetts.”

Gaspard was previously revealed to be political director for ACORN’s New York branch. Although the source of this information, ACORN founder Wade Rathke, has since feigned senility and claimed he was mistaken, other evidence points to Gaspard’s involvement with the nation’s most notorious activist group.

ACORN chief organizer Bertha Lewis’s Rolodex contains an extensive entry for Gaspard, the most detailed entry of the hundreds of individuals listed. A letter published in 2001 by the Nation magazine was co-authored by Lewis and Gaspard. Gaspard indicated in the letter he was working for the socialist Working Families Party at the time, a New York political party created by Lewis and ACORN. ACORN noted on its website that in 1998 “ACORN members spearhead[ed] formation of the Working Families Party, the first community-labor party with official ballot status in New York state in more than 50 years.” ACORN and the party share office space in Brooklyn.

Internal ACORN documents show that Gaspard gave ACORN $40,000 from 2007 through 2009. That’s a huge tithe for someone who made $111,894 in 2007 and who has a wife and two children. The $111,894 figure comes from SEIU 1199’s tax return.

As previously reported, the state of Nevada is preparing for the trial of ACORN which is currently scheduled for April 25. ACORN, the nonprofit entity that controls an empire of activism, in charged with conspiracy to commit voter fraud. Voter fraud, sometimes called electoral fraud, is a blanket term encompassing a host of election-related improprieties. State officials said previously that bankruptcy would not prevent them from moving forward with the case.

ACORN executive Amy Adele Busefink was given a two-year suspended prison term earlier this month for her role in the conspiracy. The case involved a scheme to provide illegal financial bonuses to voter registration canvassers for exceeding their daily quotas. Nevada law forbids the practice on the theory that such bonuses provide an incentive for canvassers to file bogus registrations.

Across America state chapters of ACORN, which stands for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, have been incorporating themselves separately in order to carry on ACORN’s work. ACORN is reorganizing and will reemerge again soon under a new name, according to ACORN historian and housing activist John Atlas, who wrote the 2010 book “Seeds of Change.”

Matthew Vadum is a senior editor at Capital Research Center, a Washington, D.C. think tank that studies the politics of philanthropy with a special focus on left-wing advocacy groups. An award-winning investigative reporter, Vadum’s book on ACORN and its infiltration of the Obama administration will be published in mid-2011.

Matthew Vadum writes for The Daily Caller

Is This Our America Anymore?

by Pat Buchanan from Townhall.com

Buried in the Oct. 30, 2010 Washington Post was a bland headline: “Report Points to Faster Recovery in Jobs for Immigrants.”

The story, however, contained social dynamite that explains the rage of Americans who are smeared as nativists and xenophobes for demanding a timeout on immigration.

In the April-May-June quarter, foreign-born workers in the U.S. gained 656,000 jobs. And native-born Americans lost 1.2 million.

From July 1, 2009, to June 30, 2010, foreign-born Hispanics gained 98,000 construction jobs. Native-born Hispanics lost 133,000. Black and white U.S. construction workers lost 511,000 jobs.

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, from Jan. 1, 2000, to Jan. 1, 2010, 13.1 million immigrants, legal and illegal, entered the United States, a decade in which America lost 1 million jobs.

From 2008 and 2009, the figures are startling. In 24 months, 2.4 million immigrants, legal and illegal, arrived, as U.S. citizens were losing 8.6 million jobs.

Query: Why are we importing a million-plus workers a year when 17 million Americans can’t find work? Whose country is this?

Why do we not declare a moratorium on all immigration, until our unemployment rate falls to 6 or 5 percent? Charity begins at home. Ought we not take care of our own jobless first before we invite in strangers to take their jobs?

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, each year between 300,000 and 400,000 “anchor babies” are born to illegal aliens. These newborns are entitled to citizenship, free health care and education, welfare and food stamps

Their parents — almost all are poor or working class — rarely pay any state or federal income tax.

How long can we keep granting citizenship and full social welfare benefits to the children of people who break our laws and break into our country or overstay their visas? How long can we keep bringing in workers to take jobs when our unemployment rate hovers around 10 percent?

Again, according to the Pew Center, the number of anchor babies here now is about 4 million. Add to that 3 million to 4 million born each decade, and it will not be long before Colorado, Nevada, Arizona and Texas resemble California, which is on the brink of default.

If no action is taken, the Republican Party will soon be unable, even in wave elections, to win the presidency, as it won nothing and indeed lost state legislative seats in California in 2010.

The border will disappear, and America will be a geographical expression, not a country anymore.

Legal scholar William Quirk describes a new phenomenon in the invasion of America: “maternity tourism.” Pregnant Asian women pay $15,000 to agents to ensure they are in the United States when their child is born so that they can return home secure in the knowledge he or she will be a U.S. citizen with the right to a U.S.-taxpayer subsidized education in college.

Though the nation has awakened to the threat to social cohesion and national solvency, Harry Reid is still attempting to ram through a lame-duck Senate an amnesty for illegal aliens up to age 30 who claim they were brought here before they were 16, have a high school diploma or GED and state that they intend to go to college within six years.

An estimated 2.1 million illegal aliens would be amnestied, put on a path to citizenship, and be eligible for student loans and more.

According to Alabama’s Jeff Sessions, ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee:
“Aliens granted amnesty by the DREAM Act will have the legal right to petition for entry of their family members, including their adult brothers and sisters and the parents who illegally brought or sent them to the United States, once they become naturalized U.S. citizens. In less than a decade, this reality could easily double or triple the 2.1 million green cards that will be immediately distributed as a result of the DREAM Act.”

Lawbreaking would be rewarded. Chain migration would continue. A permanent powerful magnet would be provided to all foreigners to sneak into the United States and be sure to bring the kids.

As Rep. Dana Rohrabacher argues, one effect of the DREAM Act will be to move illegals applying to college ahead of many Americans, as 80 percent of illegals are Hispanics and eligible for affirmative action.

U.S. soldiers coming home from Afghanistan will “sit in back,” as Obama puts it, when competing against amnestied illegals.

Several days ago, UCLA’s Kent Wong addressed a pro-amnesty rally in Los Angeles’ MacArthur Park. Wong turned the race card face up.

When Reid’s bill passes, said Wong, “the young people of the DREAM Act movement will go on to accomplish and do great things. … You will go on to become lawyers, teachers, doctors and members of the U.S. Congress to replace those old white men … .”

If the DREAM Act passes, Wong is right about whose time has come and gone. May the tea party take names at the call of the roll.

When Uncle Sam’s in Charge, No One Claims Responsibility

by Ashley Herzog, a Townhall columnist

At first, Gene Cranick tried to control the fire behind his rural Tennessee home with a garden hose. But as the flames approached the house, he decided to call 911.

Firefighters from a nearby town, South Fulton, responded immediately, fully equipped to stop the blaze and save Cranick’s house and four pets. But there was a problem: the Cranicks hadn’t paid a $75 fee to South Fulton for fire protection. Upon learning this, the firemen retracted their hoses and watched the house go up in flames. They only acted when a fee-paying neighbor’s field began to burn.

Inexcusable? Yes. Liberal blogs erupted in outrage at the story—not because a fully equipped fire department had let a house burn to the ground, but because the incident is “just a preview of what would come in…the America envisioned by the tea party,” as Keith Olbermann put it.

Let’s look at that.

Liberal blogs implied that this outrage occurred because South Fulton’s fire department is privatized and profit-driven. It’s not. This fire department is government-funded and government-operated. Because the Cranicks live outside city limits, the South Fulton government charged them a fee for fire protection.

This was the government’s fault.

Only government breeds the kind of stupefied incompetence that would lead firefighters to watch a house burn—because they are, technically, playing by the rules. Paulette Cranick admitted as much, telling the AP, “You can’t blame them if they have to do what the boss says to do.”

We can rest assured that no one will be fired for the incident, much less punished. Government workers never are.

Earlier this year, a 50-year-old black man in Pittsburgh called 911 nine times over two days, complaining of stomach pains. But the ambulance drivers kept getting lost, and “poor communication” (government-speak for incompetence) prevented responders from realizing how many times he’d called. When the man’s girlfriend dialed 911 a tenth time, he was dead.

“We should have gotten there. It’s that simple,” Public Safety Director Michael Hus said.

No one was ever fired for the incident.

In 2006, New York Times reporter David Rosenbaum was mugged and hit over the head in Washington, DC. The ambulance drivers got lost looking for him. When they finally responded, they took him to a hospital on the other side of the city—and completely missed his head injury. Thanks to this oversight, Rosenbaum died after being neglected at the emergency room.

The Deputy Mayor for public safety told The Washington Post that “no one involved in the incident had been fired.”

Of course they weren’t. Government employees have endless layers of job protections that prevent them from ever being held accountable. In fact, South Fulton mayor David Crocker refused to apologize for his fire department’s actions.

“Anybody that’s not in the city of South Fulton, it’s a service we offer, either they accept it or they don’t,” he said.

At least if the fire department responding to the Cranick’s house was privately operated, the firemen would be out of work today. Their boss would be doing a public apology tour—probably before filing for bankruptcy.

But when the government’s in charge, no one ever claims responsibility. Instead, they point to the bureaucratic rulebook: “Your house burned down? Ain’t my problem. I followed the rules.”

If you think this is bad, just wait until government employees control the hospitals. Maybe they’ll handle a patient with gunshot wounds the way they handled the fire at the Cranick’s: “He doesn’t have the right identification. Send him to the back of the line.”