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U.S. lawmakers tackle the health care law, confirmation of federal judge

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

House

DELAY OF 2010 HEALTH LAW: Voting 235 for and 191 against, the House on Thursday passed a Republican bill (HR 2775) on income verification that would delay the Oct. 1 opening of the state-based exchanges at the core of the 2010 health care law. The bill requires further steps by the administration to verify the incomes of low- and middle-income households receiving subsidies such as tax credits to buy insurance in the exchanges. This would be on top of a verification process already in place, in which the Department of Health and Human Services will check applicants’ income claims against tax returns, Social Security data and current payroll records, among other references. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has found the existing verification process to be satisfactory, but critics say it is so loose it invites fraud.

The House and Senate have conducted more than 35 votes on GOP measures to repeal or dismantle Obamacare since it was enacted March 23, 2010. The law is scheduled to take full effect in January.

Rep. Michael Burgess, a Texas Republican, said the bill ensures “taxpayer subsidies are going to individuals who are deserving” of them.

Rep. Jared Polis, a Colorado Democrat, called the bill “a waste of time” because the administration “already has a plan . . . to ensure that no one is able to get health insurance tax credits that they aren’t eligible for.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate, where it is expected to die.

Voting no: Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster, both Democrats.

Senate

FEDERAL JUDGE VALERIE CAPRONI: Voting 73 for and 24 against, the Senate on Monday confirmed Valerie Caproni as a federal judge for the Southern District of New York. Caproni, 58, joins the court from her position as deputy general counsel for Northrop Grumman Corp. Caproni was the FBI’s top lawyer between 2003-2011. She drew criticism during Senate debate for her role in the FBI’s issuance of National Security Letters under the USA Patriot Act. In 2007, the Justice Department inspector general faulted the FBI for “widespread and serious misuse” of its National Security Letter authority under Caproni’s watch.

National Security Letters compel recipients such as libraries and telecom firms to yield customer records to federal authorities while prohibiting them from ever discussing the letter or challenging it in court. Issued without court orders, these letters request transactional information deemed relevant to terrorism investigations but not the content of records and communications.

Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, said he would support Caproni only because she agreed to recuse herself from issues she handled as FBI general counsel.

In opposing the nomination, Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said the Justice Department inspector general criticized the FBI “for its role in the potential abuse” of National Security Letters while Caproni was its top lawyer.

A yes vote was to confirm Caproni.

Voting yes: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat.

Voting no: Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a Republican.

Key votes ahead

This week, the House will debate cuts in food stamp spending and stopgap funding of the government beyond Oct. 1. The Senate will resume debate on a bill to increase energy efficiency throughout the U.S. economy.

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