Roll call for June 8
Here’s how New Hampshire’s senators voted on major issues in the week ending Friday. The House was in recess.
SYLVIA MATHEWS BURWELL, U.S. HEALTH SECRETARY: By a vote of 78 for and 17 against, the Senate on Thursday confirmed Sylvia Mathews Burwell as secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, where she will oversee the Affordable Care Act as well as health programs such as Medicare and Medicaid and agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Burwell, 48, had been director of the Office of Management and Budget, president of the Wal-Mart Foundation and head of global development programs for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Sen. Christopher Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, said: “More people are being enrolled in the Affordable Care Act than what was expected. Over the last six months alone, the rate of uninsured individuals in this country has come down by 20 percent. Medical inflation is at a near-term historic low. . . . (Burwell) will have a lot of work to do to continue to perfect this law.”
Sen. John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, said that for every person helped by the Affordable Care Act, “There are as many . . . who have been hurt through higher premiums, higher copays, loss of their doctor, can’t go to their hospital – all of those things – plus, at the expense of significant amounts of taxpayer money wasted.”
A yes vote was to confirm Burwell.
Voting yes: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat.
Voting no: Kelly Ayotte, a Republican.
SHARON BOWEN, FINANCIAL REGULATOR: By a vote of 48 for and 46 against, the Senate on Tuesday confirmed Sharon Bowen, a securities attorney, as a commissioner on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The CFTC is charged with regulating the $600 trillion derivatives industry to guard against fraudulent and abusive practices on Wall Street such as those that helped cause the 2008 financial collapse. The agency says its mission is “to foster transparent, open, competitive and financially sound markets” for both futures and swaps transactions.
There was no floor debate on the nomination.
A yes vote was to confirm Bowen as a regulator of derivatives markets.
Voting no: Shaheen, Ayotte.
KEITH HARPER, HUMAN RIGHTS AMBASSADOR: Voting 52 for and 42 against, the Senate on Tuesday confirmed Keith Harper, a lawyer in private practice and prolific campaign fundraiser for President Obama, as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Council. A member of the Cherokee nation, Harper becomes the first Native American to hold the rank of ambassador. He was a lead attorney in a class-action suit in which hundreds of thousands of Native Americans received $3.4 billion from the U.S. Department of the Interior in settlement of their claims that the department grossly mismanaged trust tribal funds. Republicans criticized Harper over attorneys’ fees totaling many tens of millions of dollars and for his legal team’s tactics against Native Americans who challenged the settlement.
No senator spoke on Harper’s behalf during a brief floor debate.
Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, said: “I am not naive as to why some of these ambassadorships are doled out. Candidly speaking, presidents from both parties frequently issue these diplomatic posts as political favors. But I have never before seen an administration this brazen in transmitting individuals who are so terribly and fundamentally unfit for foreign service.”
A yes vote was to confirm Harper for the U.N. position.
Voting yes: Shaheen.
Voting no: Ayotte.
Key votes ahead
This week, the Senate will take up a bill to improve veterans’ health care and possibly a measure expanding hunting and fishing rights under federal law. The House schedule was to be announced.