Archive for June, 2011

June 27, 2011

House Fails to Block Funding for Libyan Campaign

By a vote of 238 – 180, the House rejected H. R. 2278, which would have limited Defense Department funding for the NATO Operation Unified Protector in Libya to only search and rescue, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, aerial refueling, and operational planning. In effect, the President may still have funding for bombing missions, and technically, the use of ground troops in Libya.

The bipartisan voting was mixed, though the majority of Republicans (144) voted for the limitation on the use of funds, while the majority of Democrats (149) were opposed to limiting the funding.

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June 27, 2011

House Strikes Down Libyan Campaign Resolution

H. J. Res. 68, authorizing the limited use of the United States Armed Forces in support of the NATO mission in Libya, was voted down in the House by a vote of 295 – 123.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Alcee Hastings (FL-23) would have authorized the President to continue the use of US Armed Forces to support NATO operations in Libya for one year, and at the same time, bar the presence of ground troops there except for rescue operations.

Eight Republicans – Dent (PA-15), Dreier (CA-26), King (NY-3), King (IA-5), Kinzinger (IL-11), McCotter (MI-11), Rivera (FL-25), and Rogers (MI-8), – were joined by 115 Democrats in support of the President’s venture to aid the rebels in Libya.

June 27, 2011

House Passes Patent Office Reform Bill

By a vote of 304 – 117, the House passed HR 1249, the America Invents Act. The measure streamlines patent and trademark application procedures, changes the current “First to Invent” requirement to “First to File”, and shifts the cost of maintaining the Patent Office from the Federal Budget to applicant and user fees. This latter saves taxpayers $717 million over the next ten years.

In a mixed bipartisan vote, 67 Republicans and 50 Democrats voted against the bill, saying that the funding changes would stifle the ability of individual entrepreneurs to compete with corporations with R&D funding sources.

June 27, 2011

House Passes Restrictions on EPA Oversight of Offshore Drilling

By a vote of 253-166, the House passed HR 2021, the Jobs and Energy Permitting Act, which amends the Clean Air Act provisions related to air pollution emanating from offshore drilling rigs. At present, the EPA has the authority to measure and control emanations on site, but this bill requires that air quality measurements be conducted onshore, and that the EPA does not have the authority to consider permits for Outer Continental Shelf rigs.

Two Republicans, Jones (NC-3) and Duncan (TN-2), voted against the bill, and 23 Democrats joined the majority in its passage.

June 18, 2011

House Passes Spending Cuts in Agriculture Bill by Narrow Margin

The House passed H.R. 2112 by a vote of 217-203. The Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012 contains a number of controversial spending cuts and regulatory provisions, sparking many amendments, most of which were not added in the final bill. The total amount of spending, $17.113 billion, is 15.1% less than what was spent in FY2011. This spending cut may be seen as a victory for fiscal hawks, but most of the 19 Republicans voting against it did so as a protest against the subsidy programs remaining in the bill. It is evident from the previous vote to recommit that the 19 Republicans voted against the final bill only after counting heads to make sure there were sufficient votes for passage. Rep. Jones (NC-3) was the lone Republican voting for the recommit and against the final version, indicating that he had reservations about the amount of spending cuts.

Notable in the cuts and policy changes are: a reduction in FDA salaries and expenses by 12%; cutting the funding for the Food For Peace program by 31%; barring any use of Food For Peace funds for North Korea; prohibits the use of federal funds for RU-486, the morning-after pill; adds language which restricts the ability of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to manipulate the futures market.

It is a certainty that the Senate version and the ensuing compromise version will not reach the spending cuts arrived at in the House version, but it shows that House Republicans are willing to enact large spending cuts.

The eighteen Republicans voting against the bill on principle (their votes will not be counted against them in the Scorecard) were: Amash (MI-3), Bachmann (MN-6), Barton (TX-6), Broun (GA-10), Burgess (TX-26), Campbell (CA-48), Duncan (TN-2), Fincher (TN-8), Flake (AZ-6), Franks (AZ-2), Griffith (VA-9), King (IA-5), McClintock (CA-4), Miller (FL-1), Noem (SD-at large), Paul (TX-14), Rohrabacher (CA-46), and Schweikert (AZ-5).

June 15, 2011

Senate Rejects Ethanol Tax Credit Repeal

In a mostly partisan vote, the Senate voted 40-59 to reject an amendment to the Economic Development Revitalization Act.
The amendment, offered by Senator Tom Coburn (OK) would have repealed the $3 billion excise tax credit and the tariff on ethanol imports, known officially as the Global Climate Change Mitigation Incentive Fund.

The thirteen Republican Senators (who all hail from corn-producing states) voting against S. Amdt. 436 to S. 782 were: Blunt (MO), Coats (IN), Cochran (MS), Grassley (IA), Hoeven (ND), Johanns (NE), Kirk (IL), Lugar (IN), Moran (KS), Portman (OH), Roberts (KS), Thune (SD), and Wicker (MS). Six Democrats joined the majority of the Republicans voted in support of the repeal: Cantwell (WA), Lieberman (CT), Manchin (WV), Pryor (AR), Tester (MT), and Webb (VA).

June 7, 2011

House Votes Down Measure Directing President to Withdraw From Libya

House Concurrent Resolution 51 was rejected by a vote of 265-148. The resolution simply states: “Pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1544(c)), Congress directs the President to remove the United States Armed Forces from Libya by not later than the date that is 15 days after the date of the adoption of this concurrent resolution.”

This direct signal to the President that he is in violation of the law was supported by 87 Republicans and 61 Democrats, led by the sponsors: Kucinich (OH-10), Braley (IA-1), Burton (IN-5), Capuano (MA-8), Conyers (MI-14), Johnson (IL-15), Jones, NC-3), Lee (CA-9), McClintock CA-4), Paul (TX-14), Stark (CA-13), and Woolsey (CA-6).

 

June 7, 2011

House Passes Resolution to Bar President from Deploying Ground Troops in Libya

H.Res. 292 passed by a vote of 268-145, which prohibits the President from deploying ground troops in Libya for other than rescue missions. The resolution also requires the President to submit a report to Congress within fourteen days (by June 17th, 2011) detailing US security interests in Libya, the activities of US Armed Forces in Libya since March 19th, his justification for not asking Congress for authorization to conduct military activities in Libya, and the costs of the engagement.

Forty-five Democrats voted with the majority of Republicans for the measure, and ten Republicans joined the dissenting minority, with Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-35) voting “Present”.

The ten Republicans voting against the resolution are as follows: Campbell (CA-48), Flake (AZ-6), Gohmert (TX-1), Huelskamp (KS-1), Johnson (IL-15), Jones (NC-3), Pearce (NM-2), Schweikert (AZ-5), Walsh (IL-8), and West (FL-22).

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June 1, 2011

House Overwhelmingly Rejects Obama’s Debt Ceiling Raise

H.R. 1954,a bill to implement the President’s request to increase the statutory limit on the public debt, was rejected in the House by a vote of 318-97. The proposed new debt ceiling would have been set at $16.7 trillion, an increase of $2.407 trillion.

Eighty-two Democrats joined with all 236 Republicans to shoot down the proposal which Rep. David Camp (MI-4) introduced as a test measure of the political will to raise the national debt without spending reductions. A large number of the Democrats rejecting the bill were fiscal conservatives representing divided districts, but some others from secure districts were following the advice Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (MD-5) to vote against the bill in order to lay the blame for spending cuts in a future debt ceiling bill on the Republicans.

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