Archive for March, 2012

March 9, 2012

House Passes Academic Freedom Act

The House passed H.R. 2117, the Protecting Academic Freedom in Higher Education Act, a measure that removes unnecessary and burdensome federal regulations on colleges and students, especially in the definition of credit-hour, and State accreditation.

The bill was passed by a vote of 303 – 114, with all Republicans voting for the measure.

March 9, 2012

House Passes Oil Shale Bill

The House passed H.R. 3408, a bill which directs the Secretary of the Interior to proceed with the sale of mineral leases on federal land for oil shale, and also directs the Secretary to deem the environmental and energy regulations as of November 2008 as the controlling regulations in the exploration and exploitation of oil shale, notwithstanding any later regulations made.

The measure was passed by a vote of 237 – 187, with 21 Republicans voting against the bill, and 21 Democrats voting for the bill.

March 9, 2012

Senate Moves to Waive Budget Control Act Provisions

In debating S. 1813, the Federal Transportation funding bill, known as Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, a motion was passed by a vote of 66-31 to waive the budgetary restrictions of the Budget Control Act, capping discretionary spending. In effect, the motion renders the Budget Control Act meaningless in controlling the growth of Federal spending.

Republican Senators Alexander (R-TN), Blunt (R-MO), Boozman (R-AR), Brown (R-MA), Cochran (R-MS), Collins (R-ME), Heller (R-NV), Hoeven (R-ND), Hutchison (R-TX), Inhofe (R-OK), Shelby (R-AL), Snowe (R-ME), Vitter (R-LA), and Wicker (R-MS) voted to waive budgetary restrictions, while all Democrats voted for the motion except Warner of Virginia.

March 9, 2012

Senate Rejects Keystone Pipeline Approval Amendment

The Senate rejected Amendment 1537 to S. 1813, the Federal Transportation Act, a measure that would override executive orders to stop the building of the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada. Even though the vote tally was 56-42, it did not pass the 3/5 majority requirement in the face of a Democrat filibuster.

Eleven Democrats joined all Republicans in support of the amendment – Baucus (D-MT), Begich (D-AK), Casey (D-PA), Conrad (D-ND), Hagan (D-NC), Landrieu (D-LA), Manchin (D-WV), McCaskill (D-MO), Pryor (D-AR), Tester (D-MT), Webb (D-VA).

March 9, 2012

Senate Rejects Keystone Pipeline Restrictions Amendment

The Senate, by a vote of 33-65, rejected Senate Amendment 1817, which provides for the implementation of the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada, providing that the oil transported is not subsequently exported, and that all materials in the construction are made in the US. This was seen as a ploy by unions to force union labor in the construction, therefore all 33 votes for the amendment were by Democrats beholden to union interests.

March 9, 2012

Senate and House Pass Insider Trading Bill

The Senate passed S. 2038, a bill which prohibits members of Congress, employees of Congress, and other Federal employees  from using nonpublic information derived from their official positions for personal benefit, and for other purposes. The measure requires most federal employees to submit financial disclosure reports within 30 days of trading in stocks and bonds, and prohibits them from trading in companies in which their official acts have an interest. An amendment to the bill prohibits bonuses be given to executives of FannieMae and FreddieMac while those agencies are in conservatorship.

The Senate passed the measure by a vote of 96-3, with Senators Bingaman (D-NM), Burr (R-NC), and Coburn (R-OK) dissenting.

The House passed the same bill by a vote of 417-2, with Republicans John Campbell (CA-48) and Rob Woodall (GA-7) voting nay.

The dissenting voters based their votes on principle, saying that the law was an affront to honest Congressmen, assuming that they would engage in insider trading without evidence. There already exist laws and ethics codes under which they can be prosecuted, given positive evidence.

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