Updated: May 14, 2013
The Voting Record covers 12 important votes on national security issues such as the war in Afghanistan, nuclear weapons, military spending and national missile defense. Check to find out if your Representative is one of the 46 who scored 100%, one of the 78 who scored a 0% or where they fall in between.
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 thes critiques, as it has threatened to veto the bill.
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.
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.
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.
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 scientifi needs. Neither the administration nor Senate leaders have staked out positions on the measure.
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.
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 – unti 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.
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.
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 th 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 th conservative Woodall plan by voting present. That vote was the closest of any of the five to being approved.
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 no cleared for the president to sign into law, thus ending the lengthy process of funding government operations for FY2013.
TANF Reauthorization, Welfare Rule Repeal – Final Passage - Vote Passed (246-181, 4 Not Voting) - The House moved last week to reauthorize the federal government’s main welfare program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), through the end of the year. Legislation is needed because authorizing language was not included in the continuing resolution. The bill also contains language forbidding the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from taking further action on a program to give states flexibility in carrying out their welfare programs. HHS issued a memorandum last July proposing to waive certain TANF requirements if states could demonstrate success in moving welfare recipients into paid employment. Republicans have decried the move as essentiall ending the work requirement embedded in TANF. The administration, in a policy statement issued on H.R. 890, noted that the HHS waivers were initially requested by governors and are intended to grant flexibility. The Senate is not likely to take up this bill, though TANF will need to be reauthorized by March 27, when its mandate expires.
Consolidation of Job Training Programs – Final Passage - Vote Passed (215-202, 15 Not Voting) - The House passed a controversial measure last week to consolidate about three dozen federal job training programs into a single “Workforce Investment Fund.” Republican bill sponsor Virginia Foxx of North Carolina argued that the bill was necessary to cut down on duplicative programs that confuse and ultimately do little to help workers. Democrats almost uniformly opposed the measure, with only Blue Dogs John Barrow and Jim Matheson voting for the bill. Though Republicans claimed they were responding to President Obama’s challenge in his 2012 State of the Union address to “cut through the maze of confusing training programs,” the administratio released a statement critical of the bill, saying it went too far by eliminating certain programs without providing additional assistance for vulnerable populations.
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.
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.
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. Democrat 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.
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.
Hydropower Regulation – Suspension - Vote Passed (422-0, 9 Not Voting) - The House unanimously supported this measure to streamline permitting and regulation of hydropower facilities.
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.
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.
Budget Submission Requirement - Final Passage - Vote Passed (253-167, 11 Not Voting) - House Republican leadership has vowed to complete a budget document this year that achieves balance within a decade. Last week the House passed a bill that would hold the President to the same requirement. The Require a PLAN Act would mandate that, if President Obama’s FY2014 budget - which, the bill’s findings section notes, is expected to be (and indeed was) late - does not achieve balance at any point within its ten-year window, a new budget that does project balance must be submitted by April 1. The bill is not expected to be taken up by the Senate, but - along with the No Budget, No Pay Act that was recently signed into law - it does allow House Republicans to positio themselves as the group in Washington most concerned with taming the deficit.
Short-Term Suspension of Debt Limit – Final Passage - Vote Passed (285-144, 3 Not Voting) - The House temporarily defused a looming crisis over the debt limit last by passing a bill that, rather than raising the limit – that is, setting a new cap on the federal government’s borrowing authority – actually suspends it – meaning there technically is no limit – until May 19, at which point the limit would be reset at a new, higher level, to reflect government borrowing activity in the interim period. In addition, the bill would institute an enforcement mechanism for each house of Congress to pass a FY 2014 budget resolution. Beginning April 15, if a chamber has not passed a budget, that chamber’s members would not receive their paychecks. Thi would carry on until the earlier of passage of a budget or the last day of the 113th Congress. Though House Democrats mostly decried the bill as a gimmick, President Obama has stated he will sign the bill if it reaches him.
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. Thei 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.
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 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.
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 nonetheles "encouraged" to receive 162 votes.
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 recover costs.
Establishing the Rules of the House - Vote Passed (228-196, 5 Not Voting) - After electing the Speaker, the next order of business in organizing the House is traditionally establishing the rules for that Congress. This is typically a prosaic piece of business, but there were several controversial items in the rules package this year. The resolution reauthorizes the House’s Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group to continue litigation defending the Defense of Marriage Act in the court system. It also authorizes the Oversight Committee to continue its civil action against Attorney General Eric Holder over documents related to the Fast and Furious gun walking scandal. The last controversial provision concerns the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a panel created by the 2010 health care overhaul to look for ways to lower health care costs. As envisioned in the health care bill, Congress would automatically vote on the panel’s recommendations; under the rules of the House in the new Congress, it will not be possible to consider those recommendations. The House passed a bill last March to repeal IPAB outright (Roll Call Number 126). It is worth noting that President Obama has not made any nominations to the panel, so it currently has no members and therefore no ability to make recommendations. Democrats attempted to revise the package twice, first with inclusion of a study regarding the voting rights of delegates from the U.S. territories and Puerto Rico, and later with legislative language to create national early voting. Both efforts were voted down.
Hurricane Sandy Relief – Suspension - Vote Passed (354-67, 8 Not Voting) - Speaker Boehner caused no small amount of indignation when he adjourned the House at the end of the last Congress without taking up a relief package for victims of Hurricane Sandy. The delay caused the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to approach its borrowing limit, necessitating this suspension bill to raise the program’s borrowing authority by $9.7 billion. The Senate passed the bill by voice vote later in the day. Boehner has pledged that the remainder of the roughly $60 billion in aid would be considered in the House January 15.
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