Archive for July, 2011

July 20, 2011

Cut, Cap, and Balance Act Passes in House

HR 2560 , the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act was passed by a vote of 234 – 190. The bill has three major portions: 1) it limits total discretionary spending for FY 2012 to $1.016 trillion, exempting Social Security, Medicare, Veterans Benefits, and Interest on National Debt, and limits other direct spending to $680.7 billion. 2) limits all on-budget and off-budget outlays of Federal spending in future years to a percentage of GDP, starting with 21.7% for FY 2013, diminishing to 19.9% by FY 2021. 3) Increases the debt ceiling to $16.7 trillion on the condition that a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution be forwarded to the States for consideration and ratification.

Five Democrats joined 229 Republicans for the measure: Boren (OK-2), Cooper (TN-5), Matheson (UT-2), McIntyre (NC-7), and Shuler (NC-11). Nine Republicans joined 181 Democrats in voting against the bill: Bachmann (MN-6), Broun (GA-10), Canseco (TX-23), DesJarlais (TN-4), Griffith (VA-9), Jones (NC-3), Mack (FL-14), Paul (TX-14), and Rohrabacher (CA-46).

July 16, 2011

House Passes Incandescent Light Bulb Bill in Surprising Tactic

Friday, while debating HR 2354, the energy and water appropriations bill, Rep. Michael Burgess (TX-26) proposed amendment 679 which prohibits the use of Federal funds to implement the existing statute which bans incandescent light bulbs in the near future. The amendment was passed on a voice vote.

As the amendment is in an appropriations bill, it cannot change statute law, but it can keep the law from being enforced. At some later time, there will be the need for the Congress to repeal the existing statute.

July 16, 2011

Senate Waives Budgetary Procedure

The Senate voted 56-40 to waive Section 303 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 which requires the Senate to have ratified the Federal annual budget before ratifying any appropriations bills sent to them by the House. In April the House passed then sent H Con Res 34, the Ryan Budget, to the Senate, but they have yet to vote on it. Presently, the Senate is considering ratification of HR 2055, which makes appropriations for military construction, funding the Department of Veterans Affairs, and related agencies for FY 2012.

In effect, the Senate is trying to spend taxpayer money before considering how much will be taken in, and without deciding first how to allocate expected revenues to various departments and agencies.

Three Republican Senators, Brown (MA), Cochran (MS), and Kirk (IL) joined all Democrats in voting for the waiver. Senator Hatch (UT) was not present, but it was noted by his aide that he would have voted for the waiver.

July 16, 2011

Senate Passes Resolution Advocating Higher Taxes for Wealthy

S 1323, a bill to express the sense of the Senate on shared sacrifice in resolving the budget deficit, passed by a vote of 69-27. It states that:

It is the sense of the Senate that any agreement to reduce the budget deficit should require that those earning $1,000,000 or more per year make a more meaningful contribution to the deficit reduction effort.

This non-binding resolution was supported by 18 Republicans: Alexander (TN), Brown (MA), Burr (NC), Coats (IN), Collins (ME), Corker (TN), Cornyn (TX), Graham (SC), Hoeven (ND), Hutchison (TX), Johanns (NE), Kirk (IL), Kyl (AZ), McCain (AZ), McConnell (KY), Sessions (AL), Snowe (ME), and Thune (SD).

July 16, 2011

House Passes Water and Energy Appropriations for FY 2012

HR 2354, the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012, was passed by a narrow majority, 219-196. The bill essentially does not change appropriations for the Corps of Engineers, various waterway projects, and the Department of Energy from that appropriated in FY 2011, with only a slight decrease in spending on discrete projects.

Twenty-one Republicans voted against the measure, mostly on grounds that it did not cut spending significantly, while ten Democrats voted for the bill in support of their pet projects.

July 16, 2011

House Passes Deregulation of Federal Water Pollution Standards to the States

HR 2018, the Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011, amends the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to preserve the authority of each State to make determinations relating to the State’s water quality standards, and requires the EPA to make a report on the economic impact of any pending regulation considering water pollution before its implementation.

The bill passed by a majority of 239-184, with 13 Republicans voting against it, and 16 Democrats voting for it. Republicans voting against it were: Dold (IL-10), Fitzpatrick (PA-8), Flake (AZ-6), Hayworth (NY-19), Johnson (IL-15) , Lance (NJ-7), LoBiondo (NJ-2), Reichert (WA-8), Rigell (VA-2), Smith (NJ-4), Wittman (VA-1), Wolf (VA-10), and Young (FL-10).

July 16, 2011

House Fails to Pass Ban of CFL Light Bulb Regulations

HR 2417, the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act, failed to pass in the House through a mistaken parliamentary maneuver. The bill basically says that no governmental entity in the United States can mandate a ban on incandescent light bulbs. The vote for suspending committee review and bringing the measure to the floor immediately required a 2/3 majority, which it failed to do, as only 233 members voted for it, with 193 voting against it. It is hoped that the measure will be brought up again in this session through the regular committee process and passed by a simple majority.

Rep. Bishop (UT-1) voted present, and ten Republicans voted against the bill: Bass (NH-2), Bilbray (CA-50), Garrett (NJ-5), Griffith (VA-9), Hanna (NY-24), Huelskamp (KS-1), Reed (NY-29), Reichert (WA-8), Rigell (VA-2), and Thompson (PA-5).


July 5, 2011

Senate Passes Bill to Reduce Executive Positions Subject to Senate Confirmation

The Senate passed S. 679, the Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011 by a vote of 79 – 20. Along with reducing the number of minor positions in executive agencies and departments subject to Senate approval, it also sets up a commission to create a standardized vetting process for all Presidential appointees.

The following 20 Senators Ayotte (R-NH),Boozman (R-AR), Burr (R-NC), Chambliss (R-GA), Coats (R-IN), Coburn (R-OK), Crapo (R-ID), DeMint (R-SC), Grassley (R-IA), Hatch (R-UT), Heller (R-NV), Inhofe (R-OK), Isakson (R-GA), Johnson (R-WI), Lee (R-UT), Moran (R-KS), Paul (R-KY), Risch (R-ID), Rubio (R-FL), Vitter (R-LA), voted against the bill primarily because two amendments to it were voted down. S.A.510, rejected by a vote of 41-57, would have retained the position of the Director, Bureau of Justice Statistics subject to Senate confirmation. S.A.499, rejected by a vote of 41 – 57, would have made the positions of White House Czars subject to Senate confirmation, and prohibit funds for salaries and expenses to them.

The measure now proceeds to the House for ratification.

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