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Roll call: April 21, 2013

Here’s how New Hampshire members of Congress voted on major issues in the week ending Friday.


Cybersecurity, civil liberties: Voting 288 for and 127 against, the House on Thursday passed a bill (HR 624) to expand data sharing between private businesses and federal security agencies in order to bolster U.S. defenses against cyberattacks by terrorists, foreign governments and others. In part, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) eases privacy and antitrust laws to enable telecoms and internet service providers to share customer information such as emails and cloud-stored files with federal authorities.

While the bill’s purpose is to protect computer systems against crippling shutdowns and information thievery, it was criticized as an infringement on privacy rights and other civil liberties. The bill grants immunity from prosecution to companies that share customer data with the government.

Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, said the bill strikes “the right balance between our privacy (and) civil liberties and stopping bad guys in their tracks from ruining what is one-sixth of the U.S. economy.”

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat, said: “Cybersecurity and privacy are not mutually exclusive, and this bill fails to achieve a balance between protecting our networks and safeguarding our liberties.”

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Rep. Annie Kuster, a Democrat.

Not voting: Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, a Democrat.

Password privacy: Voting 189 for and 224 against, the House on Thursday defeated a bid to protect the privacy of social networking passwords as part of HR 624 (above). The Democratic measure sought to prohibit employers from requiring employees to divulge passwords to sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as a condition of employment.

Sponsor Rep. Ed Perlmutter, a Colorado Democrat, said his motion “doesn’t allow the employer to impersonate (the) particular employee when other people are interacting with that person across social media platforms.”

Rogers said the underlying bill “doesn’t allow the government to meddle with the internet. It protects privacy, it protects civil liberties and it has the government not even touching the internet.”

A yes vote backed the motion.

Voting yes: Kuster.

Not voting: Shea-Porter.


Expanded gun checks: Voting 54 for and 46 against, the Senate on Wednesday failed to reach 60 votes for passing an amendment by Sens. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, and Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, that would require background checks on most commercial gun sales. The measure sought to expand the existing system, which exempts an estimated 40 percent of sales – including internet sales and transactions between private parties at gun shows – from mandatory background checks. The amendment, which specifically prohibited the establishment of a national registry of gun owners, was offered to a gun-safety bill (S 649) that sponsors have put on hold.

Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, said the amendment “would strengthen the background check system without in any way infringing on our Second Amendment rights.”

Sen. Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican, said: “More background checks today, gun registration tomorrow – who knows what will follow after this.”

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Voting yes: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat.

Voting no: Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a Republican.

Concealed carry laws: Voting 57 for and 43 against, the Senate on Wednesday failed to reach 60 votes needed to advance an amendment making it easier for individuals to carry concealed, loaded handguns while traveling in other states. The measure sought to impose what would effectively be a national standard on the existing patchwork of state laws on concealed handguns. It did so by enabling the concealed carry law of the individual’s home state to pre-empt any stricter laws he or she encounters in other states.

Sponsor Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said his amendment would “effectively treat concealed carry licenses as a driver’s license. If you are driving from Virginia to Texas, you do not have to obtain a separate driver’s license for each state you drive through.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, said: “In matters of state police power, the Congress has traditionally not meddled in state affairs. . . . That is what the 10th Amendment provides. What might work in Vermont might not work in Chicago.”

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Voting yes: Ayotte.

Voting no: Shaheen.

Assault weapons ban: Voting 40 for and 60 against, the Senate on Wednesday turned back an amendment to outlaw the future manufacture, sale, possession and importation of 157 specific semiautomatic assault weapons identified by make and model. At the same time, the amendment identified and protected as legal 2,258 specific firearms used for hunting or sporting purposes.

Sponsor Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, said her amendment “imposes restrictions on one class of weapons – military-style weapons – that are highly dangerous and can kill large numbers of people quickly, with increasing velocity.”

Sen. Mike Enzi, a Wyoming Republican, said: “I am not willing to infringe on the constitutional right of lawful gun owners when the laws already designed to protect us are being unenforced.”

A yes vote backed an assault weapons ban.

Voting yes: Shaheen.

Voting no: Ayotte.

Republican gun bill: Voting 52 for and 48 against, the Senate on Wednesday failed to reach 60 votes for advancing a Republican alternative to S 649 (above). This plan would allocate more resources for addressing school safety and treating mental health; create a Department of Justice task force for prosecuting those who falsify information on criminal background checks; require the department to step up prosecutions of gun crimes; bolster the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and authorize a study on the causes of mass shootings by the National Institute of Justice and National Academy of Sciences.

Sponsor Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said his measure “contains commonsense measures to fight gun violence in our communities and protect the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners.”

Noting that the GOP bill “was filed just this morning,” Leahy said “this last-minute alternative is apparently being offered so that Republicans . . . can go home and say that they voted for something.”

A yes vote backed the GOP plan.

Voting yes: Ayotte.

Voting no: Shaheen.

Limits on magazine sizes: Voting 46 for and 54 against, the Senate on Wednesday turned back an amendment to S 649 (above) outlawing the sale and manufacture of ammunition clips holding more than 10 bullets. This would reinstate limits on high-capacity magazines that expired in 2004 when Congress failed to renew an assault weapons ban.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, said the amendment would ban magazines “which are used to kill more people more quickly and, in fact, have been used in more than half the mass shootings since 1982.”

Grassley said “tens of millions of these magazines have been lawfully owned in this country for decades. They are in common use, not unusually dangerous and used by law-abiding citizens in self-defense.”

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Voting yes: Shaheen.

Voting no: Ayotte.

Veterans’ background checks: Voting 56 for and 44 against, the Senate on Wednesday failed to reach 60 votes for advancing an amendment to S 649 (above) setting up a special appeals process in the Veterans’ Administration for veterans who fail gun purchase background checks because they have been adjudicated mentally ill.

Sponsor Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, said: “I am specifically talking about 129,000 of our nation’s war heroes. Due to a determination within the VA, (they) have been deprived of their Second Amendment rights to own firearms.”

No senator spoke against the amendment.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Voting yes: Ayotte.

Voting no: Shaheen.

Key votes ahead

This week, the House will take up bills regarding pre-existing conditions and the Federal Helium Reserve, while the Senate will debate whether to allow states to collect sales tax on internet transactions.

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