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Roll call for week ending Aug. 1

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


FUNDS TO EASE BORDER CRISIS: Voting 223 for and 189 against, the House on Friday passed a Republican-drafted bill (HR 5230) to appropriate $694 million to deal with a surge of illegal child immigrants from Central America across the U.S.-Mexico border. The bill funds food, shelter and other care for the refugees, along with measures to speed their deportation and tighten the border. About $200 million of the outlay would be allocated to care, while most of the remainder would be spent on border enforcement and deportation steps. The bill funds National Guard deployments to the border, the hiring of 40 more immigration judges and the building of short-term detention facilities.

Rep. Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican, said: “By our own actions in this country, we have sent a message, ‘If you get here, you can stay, whether you’re legally entitled to or not, you essentially will never be sent back.’ And we have allowed criminal cartels to distort our position and to make tens of millions of dollars off this. That needs to be stopped.”

Rep. Lloyd Doggett, a Texas Democrat, said Republicans “care about these children so much their proposal is to tell them to get out of here just as quick as they can before they can present their claim that they were ‘trafficked’ or that they (would) suffer a return to violence and murder and rape at home.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate, where it could be merged with other legislation.

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

PHASE OUT OF ‘DREAMERS’ PROGRAM: Voting 216 for and 192 against, the House on Friday passed a Republican-drafted bill (HR 5272) that would phase out the administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Under DACA, more than 500,000 undocumented aliens who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children and see America as their only home – so-called “dreamers” – were granted two-year reprieves from deportation that soon will start to expire. This bill would prevent them from renewing their DACA status and would bar new enrollees in the program.

In June 2012, President Obama established DACA by executive order to achieve some of the objectives of the DREAM Act, which is stalled in Congress. The DREAM Act would grant permanent legal status to individuals who have been in the U.S. for at least five years, were under 16 when they arrived, have a clean record and have received a high school (or equivalent) degree or honorable military discharge.

Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican, said the bill “just restores the constitutional authority of the United States Congress, and it says, ‘President Obama, don’t continue to violate this Constitution.’ . . . It won’t go cheap if you try this, Mr. President.”

Rep. Louise Slaughter, a New York Democrat, said: “the most extreme anti-immigrant voices in the Republican Party are using the (border) crisis as political cover to repeal a common-sense policy like the DREAM Act, and the (House) speaker has caved once again to those voices.”

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

Voting no: Shea-Porter, Kuster.

UPGRADE OF VETERANS’ HEALTH CARE: By a vote of 420 for and five against, the House on Wednesday adopted the conference report on a bipartisan bill (HR 3230) appropriating $17 billion to help the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) improve its medical services and rebound from a scandal that involved lengthy waits for appointments at DVA hospitals and clinics, falsification of records to give the appearance of prompt care, payment of unwarranted bonuses to managers who covered up problems and the apparently forced resignation of Eric Shinseki as secretary of Veterans Affairs.

In part, the measure allocates $10 billion for care outside the DVA system for veterans who are required to wait longer than 30 days for DVA appointments or live more than 40 miles from a DVA medical facility, $5 billion for hiring more doctors and other medical personnel and $1.3 billion for leases to establish hospitals and clinics in up to 18 states and Puerto Rico. About $5 billion of the cost would be taken from other parts of the DVA budget and $12 billion would be new spending.

Rep. Jeff Miller, a Florida Republican, said the department “is in crisis, and as a result, our veterans are suffering. The conference report . . . is the first step to alleviating their pain and for paving the way for the failing (DVA) health care system to experience much-needed structural and cultural reform.”

No member spoke against the bill.

A yes vote was to send the conference report to the Senate, where it was adopted and sent to President Obama for his signature.

Voting yes: Shea-Porter, Kuster.

REGULATION OF PESTICIDE DISCHARGES: Voting 267 for and 161 against, the House on Thursday passed a bill (HR 935) that would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from requiring permits under the Clean Water Act for discharges into navigable waters of pesticides authorized for use under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Clean Water Act permits still would be required for discharges regulated by that law as municipal or industrial waste or storm water.

Rep. Collin Peterson, a Minnesota Democrat, said the bill would “relieve farmers, foresters and other pesticide applicators from a potentially costly regulatory burden that would do little, if anything, to protect the environment.”

Rep. Donna Edwards, a Maryland Democrat, said the Clean Water Act “has not significantly increased the compliance costs to states or individual pesticide sprayers, nor has it been used as a tool by outside groups or the EPA to ban the use of pesticides.”

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

Voting yes: Kuster.

Voting no: Shea-Porter.

GOP LAWSUIT AGAINST PRESIDENT OBAMA: On a nearly party-line vote of 225 for and 201 against, members on Wednesday authorized a Republican-drafted House of Representatives lawsuit against President Obama on grounds that he overstepped his constitutional powers by acting on his own to delay the start of the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate from Jan. 1, 2014, to Jan. 1, 2015, or later. The measure (H Res 676) did not need Senate concurrence and took effect immediately. All but five of the 230 Republicans who voted supported the resolution and all 196 Democrats who voted opposed the measure.

The five Republicans voting against the resolution were Reps. Paul Broun of Georgia, Scott Garrett of New Jersey, Walter Jones of North Carolina, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Steve Stockman of Texas. Six members did not vote. They were GOP Reps. Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee, Alan Nunelee of Mississippi and Mike Pompeo of Kansas, and Democratic Reps. Bill Foster of Illinois, Colleen Hanabusa of Hawaii and Albio Sires of New Jersey.

Rep. Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican, said: “When we allow the president to single-handedly determine what the law is, the Constitution, our separation of powers and the American people become irrelevant. That is why the president’s system of unilateral governance cannot stand. It must be stopped. Even if it takes a lawsuit to do so.”

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, said House Republicans “have voted over 50 times to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act. They do not want it implemented. Now they want to sue the president because he is not implementing it fully, and now they are suing and refusing to say that impeachment is off the table.”

A yes vote was to file a civil lawsuit against President Obama in federal court.

Voting no: Shea-Porter, Kuster.

ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT HURDLES: Voting 233 for and 190 against, the House on Tuesday passed a Republican-drafted bill (HR 4315) requiring the Department of the Interior to publish online the scientific basis of all new “endangered species” and “threatened species” designations under the 1973 Endangered Species Act (ESA). The bill also requires the department to treat data from state, local and tribal governments as “best available science” in making decisions on species protection. In addition, the bill puts a $125-per-hour cap on government payments of “prevailing attorney fees” in litigation challenging endangered species designations.

Rep. Doc Hastings, a Washington Republican, said the transparency of internet publication “makes our government more accountable” and “allows for an open conversation about improving species science.”

Rep. George Miller, a California Democrat, said Americans support the ESA “in great numbers because they recognize that this is about one generation taking care of what we inherited and passing it on to another generation.”

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

Voting no: Shea-Porter, Kuster.

DISPUTE OVER FINDINGS: Voting 204 for and 215 against, the House on Tuesday refused to strip HR 4315 (above) of a requirement that Endangered Species Act administrators accept data submitted by state, local and tribal governments as the “best available scientific and commercial data,” even if it has not been subjected to peer review. In the scientific community, peer review is a discipline in which new research is not accepted as valid until it is evaluated by other experts in the same field.

Rep. Rush Holt, a New Jersey Democrat, said the ESA has been one of America’s “most successful environmental laws” because it “has been based on scientific evaluation using peer-reviewed science by trained scientists, not the whims and ideological wishes of legislators.”

Rep. Randy Neugebauer, a Texas Republican, said the underlying bill recognizes that state and local officials “may actually have better information . . . than somebody sitting in Washington, looking at some model or some report that someone has drawn up.”

A yes vote was to strip the bill of language requiring disclosure of non-peer-reviewed data.

Voting yes: Shea-Porter, Kuster.


IMPROVEMENTS IN VETERANS’ CARE: Voting 91 for and three against, the Senate on Thursday adopted the conference report on a bill (HR 3230, above) to appropriate $17 billion for improvement of veterans’ medical care. In addition to provisions described above, the bill would make post-9/11 GI Bill benefits available to spouses of service members who die while on active duty; allocate hundreds of millions of dollars to improve existing DVA medical facilities, extend scholarship programs for DVA health personnel and curb bonuses for the department’s senior managers. The bill also would ease civil service rules so that DVA employees with poor work records could be fired, with appeals to the Merit Systems Protection Board resolved within 21 days.

Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, said: “If there was ever a definition of an emergency, that emergency faces us today because our veterans are not receiving the care we owe them as a nation. There are veterans who are dying as we speak for lack of care.”

Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, said: “The problem is not money at the (DVA). The problem is management, accountability and culture. So we are going to borrow $12 billion from our children and reward the poor behavior and charge it to our children.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to President Obama for his signature.

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

FUNDS TO EASE BORDER CRISIS: Voting 50 for and 44 against, the Senate on Thursday failed to reach the 60 votes needed to advance a bill (S 2648) providing emergency appropriations to help agencies deal with tens of thousands of unaccompanied child immigrants from Central America who have illegally entered the U.S. The bill would appropriate $2.7 billion, mainly for border security and resources to care for the children while immigration judges determine whether they qualify for asylum or refugee status or face deportation. In addition, the bill provides $615 million for fighting wildfires in eight Western states and $225 million to bolster Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system.

Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, said: “Time and again America has responded to crises around the world. . . . America has a reputation for being there. Now that children are at our border, will we do anything less?”

Sen. Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican, said: “The bill before us today is in clear violation of the budget. All the money is borrowed money, it violates the budget, and I raise that point of order.”

A yes vote supported the bill despite GOP arguments that the spending should be offset by increased revenue or cuts elsewhere rather than added to federal debt.

Voting yes: Shaheen.

Voting no: Ayotte.

NEW MONEY FOR HIGHWAYS: Voting 79 for and 18 against, the Senate on Tuesday sent back to the House a bill (HR 5021) to add $8.1 billion to the Highway Trust Fund to finance road, bridge and mass-transit construction through Dec. 19. That ending date would provide an incentive for Congress to agree on a more permanent means of adequately funding highway and transit infrastructure as part of a multiyear transportation bill that is on the table. The short-term funding bill would pay for itself with provisions including an improvement in Internal Revenue Service collections of unpaid taxes. The House version of HR 5021 would finance the Highway Trust Fund through May 2015, enabling the current Congress to avoid action on permanent funding. The highway fund is projected to run dry in August.

Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, said collecting unpaid taxes to fund transportation projects “is not increasing taxes. . . . This is about collecting taxes owed under current law.”

Sen. Pat Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, said: “The fact is our federal environmental permitting process for infrastructure is broken. It is too cumbersome. It takes too long. It is too costly. It is a huge problem.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the House, where it was promptly rejected.

Voting yes: Shaheen, Ayotte.

STATE CONTROL OF TRANSPORTATION: Voting 28 for and 69 against, the Senate on Tuesday defeated an amendment to HR 5021 (above) that would devolve all federal highway and mass transit programs except the Interstate Highway System to the states over five years. Under the amendment, the federal gasoline tax of 18.4 cents per gallon would be reduced to 3.7 cents by 2019. By then, states and localities would be in charge of managing and funding their transportation networks other than interstate highways.

Sponsor Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, said: “My amendment would empower states and communities to customize their own infrastructure according to their own needs, their own values and their own imagination.”

Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat, said: “If, God forbid, this (amendment) were to become the law, immediately the states would see a cut in their transportation funding of 80 percent. That is (Lee’s) answer to gridlock.”

A yes vote was to shift most federal transportation programs to the states and cut the federal gasoline tax by 80 percent.

Voting yes: Ayotte.

Voting no: Shaheen.

On break

Congress is in recess until the week of Sept. 8.

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