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Roll call for April 13

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


HEALTH INSURANCE FOR EXPATRIATES: By a vote of 257 for and 159 against, the House on Wednesday failed to reach a two-thirds majority needed to pass a bipartisan bill (HR 4414) that would exempt Americans abroad and foreigners working in the United States from the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. Backers said the bill would protect jobs at U.S. insurance companies that sell policies to expatriates, while foes said it would undermine the ACA and result in expatriates receiving inferior health coverage.

Rep. John Carney, a Delaware Democrat, said the bill “ensures that American expatriate insurance carriers are on a level playing field with their foreign competitors, so that American jobs stay here in America.”

Rep. Jim McDermott, a Washington Democrat, called the bill “special treatment for certain insurance companies who would like nothing more than to avoid the responsibilities under the (ACA) and sell inferior insurance policies.”

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Rep. Annie Kuster, a Democrat.

Voting no: Rep. Carol Shea-Porter a Democrat.

ACCOUNTING FOR CREDIT PROGRAMS: Voting 230 for and 165 against, the House on Monday approved GOP-sponsored accounting rules (HR 1872) that would raise the stated cost of direct loan and loan-guarantee programs in the U.S. budget by giving more weight to risk. The bill would partially base the cost of credit programs on the fair-market value of the assets to which they are linked. This would replace the existing method of counting money actually spent and revenue actually received to value specific programs. Democrats said that to define credit programs such as student loans as more costly would make them a more inviting target for spending cuts.

The bill also would include Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac balance sheets in the federal budget. These giant home mortgage firms, known as Government Sponsored Enterprises, are privately owned but federally protected.

Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, said: “When Washington makes or guarantees a loan, it is putting taxpayers at risk. Our budget rules don’t account for all of that risk. . . . This bill is about recognizing the actual costs of what this government does.”

Rep. John Yarmuth, a Kentucky Democrat, said: “There are far more important things that this body ought to be dealing with, including raising the minimum wage, extending unemployment benefits . . . developing infrastructure . . . that would help stimulate the economy and create jobs.

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

Voting no: Shea-Porter, Kuster.

EQUAL PAY FOR WOMEN: By a vote of 179 for and 217 against, the House on Monday defeated a Democratic motion to delay enactment of HR 1872 (above) until the Census Bureau finds that women have achieved equal pay with men for full-time, year-round employment. In 2011, according to the bureau’s most recent figures, women earned 77 percent of what men earned for full-time, yearlong work, with a median income of $37,118 compared with $48,202 for men.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat, said: “Let us make sure that employers cannot pay women less for the same job. This makes all the difference in their lives and the lives of their families.”

Rep. Scott Garrett, a New Jersey Republican, called the motion “totally extraneous to the underlying message and purpose” of the pending bill.

Voting yes: Shea-Porter, Kuster.

GOP RULES TO MEASURE SPENDING: By a vote of 230 for and 185 against, the House on Tuesday passed a Republican-sponsored bill (HR 1871) that would redefine the all-important “baseline” in budgeting rules to make it easier for Congress to cut discretionary spending. When Congress drafts annual and multi-year spending plans, its starting point, or baseline, is the previous fiscal year’s non-entitlement spending level plus adjustments for inflation and population growth. This bill removes inflation from the calculation, which would automatically lower the baseline and lock in across-the-board spending cuts of at least a few percentage points. The bill does not address the taxation side of the budget ledger.

Rep. Tom McClintock, a California Republican, said: “Right now, we start our budget by assuming that we are hostages to our spending. This measure makes us the masters of that spending. That is a harder job, but that is our job.”

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, said: “The price of a Big Mac is not the same today as it was 10 years ago. It would be misleading to pretend, as we put together our 10-year budgets, that the price of aircraft carriers . . . education and providing health care to our veterans will be the same.

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

Voting no: Shea-Porter, Kuster.

DISABLED CHILDREN, VETERANS, POLICE: Voting 191 for and 221 against, the House on Tuesday defeated a Democratic motion to prevent HR 1871 (above) from triggering spending cuts in programs for student loans, nursing-home safety, the education of disabled children, aviation and food safety, veterans’ benefits or the local police.

Rep. Sponsor Cheri Bustos, an Illinois Democrat, said her motion “would help protect the smart investment we have made in the future of our country – in our seniors, in our veterans and in those who fight to protect us and keep us safe.”

Rep. Rob Woodall, a Georgia Republican, said the bill “has nothing to do with cuts” and “does one thing and one thing only, and that is to say, let’s spend next year than what we spent this year, unless someone makes the case to do more.”

A yes vote was to adopt the Democratic motion.

Voting yes: Shea-Porter, Kuster.

10-YEAR REPUBLICAN BUDGET: Voting 219 for and 205 against, the House on Thursday approved a Republican budget (H Con Res 96) that would reach balance by fiscal 2024 through steps such as cutting spending by $5 trillion over 10 years; repealing the Affordable Care Act; scaling back the higher-education aid known as Pell Grants; partially privatizing Medicare for individuals now 55 and younger; and converting Medicaid and food stamps to state-run block-grant programs. Under the bill’s “premium support” plan for Medicare, starting in 2024 seniors would receive government vouchers for purchasing either a strictly private policy or one offered through what is left of traditional Medicare.

Authored by Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, this budget sets federal spending next year at $3.66 trillion while projecting a $328 billion deficit; increases military spending by $483 billion over 10 years; bars tax increases; cuts the top individual tax rate from 39.6 percent to 25 percent; reduces the corporate rate from 35 percent to 25 percent; and cuts taxes on corporate profits earned overseas. Ryan said he would reform the tax code to pay the cost of tax cuts, but left it up to the Ways and Means Committee to come up with specifics.

Ryan said the GOP budget is “one that actually grows the economy . . . balances the budget and pays off the debt . . . that secures retirement not with empty promises but real reforms . . . that goes after waste and cronyism.”

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, called the GOP budget “a trickle-down approach” that has “worked for the rich. It has worked for the special interests and their supporters, but it has not worked for the great middle class.”

A yes vote was to adopt the Republican budget.

Voting no: Shea-Porter, Kuster.

DEMOCRATIC BUDGET PLAN: By a vote of 163 for and 261 against, the House on Thursday defeated a Democratic budget that differed from the Republican plan (H Con Res 96, above) by raising the minimum wage; funding extended unemployment benefits; launching immigration reforms that would generate $400 billion over 10 years in revenue; increasing spending on programs such as education, transportation and scientific research; continuing traditional fee-for-service Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and other safety-net programs as presently structured; levying $1.8 trillion in tax increases over 10 years on corporations and the wealthy and repealing the remaining years of the sequester. This budget would not reach balance.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat, said Democrats would invest “in America’s future – in infrastructure, education, innovation – while the Republicans would sentence this rich, great country to perpetual decline.”

Rep. Mick Mulvaney, a South Carolina Republican, said: “If you borrow money from me and intend to pay it back, that is debt. If you borrow money from me and never intend to pay it back, that is theft. That is what the Democrats are offering here today.”

A yes vote was to adopt the Democratic budget.

Voting yes: Shea-Porter.

Voting no: Kuster.

CONSERVATIVE BUDGET PLAN: By a vote of 133 for and 291 against, the House on April 10 defeated a fiscal 2015-2024 budget (H Con Res 96) offered by the conservative Republican Study Committee. In contrast to the mainstream Republican budget (above), this plan reaches balance in four years through steps such as removing special-interest loopholes from the tax code; freezing discretionary spending at $950 billion annually; converting Medicare to a voucher program; gradually raising the Social Security retirement age to 70 and tightening the formula for Social Security cost-of-living increases. This budget would raise defense spending by one-third to $696 billion per year and retain tax revenues from the Affordable Care Act while repealing the remainder of the health law.

Rep. Luke Messer, an Indiana Republican, said the conservatives’ plan “will balance the budget and create a healthy economy sooner than any other budget alternative.”

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, said: “Despite all the talk about fiscal discipline from our Republican colleagues, it is hands-off (in) imposing any fiscal discipline on powerful special interests who have succeeded in getting themselves special deals in the Tax Code.”

A yes vote was to adopt the Republican Study Committee budget.

Voting no: Shea-Porter, Kuster.

BLACK CAUCUS BUDGET: By a vote of 116 for and 300 against, the House on Wednesday defeated a Congressional Black Caucus budget (H Con Res 96) that would expand an array of domestic programs while reducing projected deficits by $2.8 trillion over 10 years, largely by raising taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals and closing tax loopholes.

This budget repeals the sequester; fully finances the Affordable Care Act; increases job-training and infrastructure outlays; helps localities fund teacher, police and first-responder payrolls; increases spending for housing and community-development; and bolsters safety-net programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and welfare. The budget would raise marginal income-tax rates on millionaires, end mortgage deductions for yachts and second homes and save $1 trillion over 10 years by ending tax breaks for special interests.

Rep. Marcia Fudge, an Ohio Democrat, said this budget is focused on “eradicating poverty in America by increasing economic opportunities through robust investments in education and infrastructure, affordable housing, domestic manufacturing, small businesses and job training.”

Rep. Tom McClintock, a California Republican, said: “No one doubts the sincerity of the Congressional Black Caucus in bringing this budget substitute to the floor, but there is an old saying: You can’t fix a broken bucket by pouring more water in it; at some point, you have to fix the bucket.”

A yes vote was to adopt the Congressional Black Caucus budget.

Voting no: Shea-Porter, Kuster.


EXTENDED UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS: Voting 59 for and 38 against, the Senate on Monday passed a bipartisan bill (HR 3979) to provide extended jobless benefits to about 3 million individuals out of work for 27 weeks or longer. Benefits paid for by the bill would be retroactive to Dec. 28 and end May 31, with their projected $10 billion cost paid for by extending customs user fees and temporarily changing rules by which companies fund their pension plans.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, said the House “has shrugged these workers off. It is wrong. It is important that this Congress – the House and the Senate – pass the extension.”

Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said the bill “is not fiscally responsible and would do nothing to address the causes of weak job creation.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the House, where it is likely to be shelved.

Voting yes: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a Republican.

FEMALE-MALE PAY EQUITY: Voting 53 for and 44 against, the Senate on Wednesday failed to reach 60 votes for ending GOP blockage of a Democratic-sponsored bill (S 2199) closing loopholes in the 1963 Equal Pay Act and giving women more legal tools for gaining pay equity with male co-workers. The so-called Paycheck Fairness Act would require equal pay for comparable work except when differences can be justified by narrowly defined business necessities or factors such as education, training or experience. The bill would prevent employer retaliation against those who inquire about co-workers’ wages or disclose their own pay in the course of investigations. Additionally, the bill would make it easier for plaintiffs to file class-action suits and enable them to seek punitive and compensatory damages.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat, said: “Today is a day of reckoning: Do you want equal pay for equal work?”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, said existing laws “already say it is illegal to discriminate. If we are still seeing instances of discrimination . . . then let’s honestly try to address that rather than through messaging efforts” such as this bill.

A yes vote was to advance the bill.

Voting yes: Shaheen.

Voting no: Ayotte.

Key votes ahead

Congress is in Easter-Passover recess until the week of April 28.

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