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N.H. congresswomen vote on COLAs, debt limit

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

House

SUSPENSION OF DEBT LIMIT: The House on Tuesday voted, 221 for and 201 against, to suspend the $17.2 trillion national-debt limit until March 16, 2015, enabling the Treasury to borrow to pay bills already incurred by Congress and the executive branch.

The bill (S 540) was supported by 99 percent of Democrats who voted and opposed by 88 percent of Republicans who voted. Unlike other debt limit increases in recent years, this is a “clean” measure free of conditions such as policy changes and spending cuts.

Supporter Rep. Richard Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat, said the vote was “about paying for the war in Iraq” and “the tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 that continued right through 2010 based upon the mistaken notion . . . that, in fact, tax cuts pay for themselves.”

No member spoke against the bill.

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

Voting yes: Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Annie Kuster, both Democrats.

MILITARY COST-OF-LIVING INCREASES: Voting 326 for and 90 against, the House on Tuesday repealed a cut in cost-of-living adjustments for military retirees younger than 62 that was enacted in December as part of a two-year budget deal. This sent the bill (S 25) to the Senate.

Set to take effect next year, the cut would result in working-age military retirees receiving annual COLAs one percentage point below inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index. At age 62, they would once again receive COLAs that keep pace with inflation. The cut would raise about $6 billion over 10 years to be used to soften the impact of sequestration on military and nonmilitary discretionary budgets. To offset that revenue loss, the bill would curb Medicare reimbursements to doctors.

The bill was passed without floor debate.

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate

Voting yes: Shea-Porter, Kuster.

Senate

TO END DEBT FILIBUSTER: The Senate on Wednesday voted, 67 for and 31 against, to advance a bill (S 540, above) that would suspend the national debt ceiling until March 16, 2015, allowing the Treasury to pay bills already incurred and keep the United States out of default. This was the decisive vote on the bill.

Twelve Republicans joined 53 Democrats and two independents to push the bill over a 60-vote threshold, end a Tea Party-led filibuster and move toward final passage (next issue).

The 12 Republicans who voted to end the filibuster were Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska, Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Sen. John Thune of South Dakota.

A yes vote was to advance the debt limit bill.

Voting yes: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat.

Voting no: Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a Republican.

SUSPENSION OF DEBT LIMIT: Voting 55 for and 43 against, the Senate on Wednesday sent the White House a bill (S 540, above) to suspend the statutory debt limit until March 16, 2015, allowing the Treasury to borrow above the $17.2 trillion cap over the next 13 months and avert U.S. default.

The borrowing is necessary to accommodate spending already approved by the executive and legislative branches.

The bill was passed without floor debate.

A yes vote was to send the bill to President Obama.

Voting yes: Shaheen.

Voting no: Ayotte.

MILITARY COST-OF-LIVING INCREASES: Voting 95 for and three against, the Senate on Wednesday joined the House in passing a bill (S 25, above) that would restore a one-percentage-point cut in cost-of-living adjustments for military retirees younger than 62 to be phased in over three years starting in January 2015.

The bill’s $6 billion cost over 10 years would be “paid for” by curbing Medicare payments to doctors.

The bill was passed without floor debate.

A yes vote was to send the bill to President Obama.

Voting yes: Shaheen, Ayotte.

Key votes ahead

Congress is in Presidents’ Day recess this week. Next week, the House will resume debate on a bill to scale back the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, while the Senate will vote on judicial nominations.

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