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Roll call for June 30

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


IMMIGRATION OVERHAUL: Voting 68 for and 32 against, the Senate on Thursday sent the House a bill (S 744) that would create a 13-year route to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. by the end of 2011; surge law enforcement and electronic surveillance on the U.S.-Mexico border; tighten the Canadian border; crack down on foreign visitors who overstay their visas; require all states to adopt the E-Verify system by which employers check on the legality of new workers; streamline family visas to reduce backlogs in reuniting kin in the U.S.; establish new or streamlined employment visas for low-skilled and high-tech workers and create a new program for temporarily admitting 112,000 or more seasonal farm workers each year.

The Congressional Budget Office projects the bill would reduce deficits by $197 billion in the first 10 years, mainly due to fees, penalties and taxes such as Social Security withholding that immigrants would send to the Treasury while pursuing legal status.

For undocumented immigrants, the first step toward legality under the bill is to apply for Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status, which, if granted, would last 10 years, or five years for immigrants defined as “dreamers.” They would then spend three years as permanent residents with a Green Card before achieving naturalized citizenship after 13 years.

Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, said the bill “strikes the right balance to encourage those here who are undocumented to come out of the shadows, comply with law, pay a fine, pay taxes and become full participants” in U.S. society.

Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said the bill “would authorize permanent legalization regardless of whether our borders are ultimately secured. . . . In fact, (the) bill requires only substantial completion of a plan” for securing the southern border.

A yes vote was to pass the bipartisan bill.

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

SOUTHERN BORDER SECURITY: Voting 69 for and 29 against, the Senate on Wednesday amended S 744 (above) to further tighten the U.S.-Mexico border against illegal crossings. The amendment requires the government to build 700 miles of fencing on the nearly 2,000-mile border; double the number of Border Patrol agents there, to 40,000; deploy drone aircraft and blanket the border with thermal imaging, cameras and other surveillance. Costing $46 billion over ten years, these and other security steps would have to be completed before any undocumented immigrant could achieve permanent residency, a 10-year process.

Sen. John Hoeven, a North Dakota Republican, called this “a border surge amendment” that “is about securing the border first.”

Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said the amendment “basically is a continuation of the basic premise of the underlying bill – legalization first, enforcement later, if ever.”

A yes vote was to adopt the bipartisan amendment.

Voting yes: Shaheen, Ayotte.

SECRETARY OF COMMERCE PRITZKER: Voting 97 for and one against, the Senate on Tuesday confirmed Penny Pritzker as the nation’s 43rd secretary of commerce and third woman in the post. Pritzker, 54, heads investment and realty firms in Chicago and is a Democratic Party contributor and fund-raiser. Sen. Bernard Sanders, a Vermont independent, cast the negative vote on grounds Pritzker is out of tune with working families.

Two days later, the Senate voted unanimously to confirm Anthony Foxx, a former mayor of Charlotte, N.C., as the nation’s 17th secretary of transportation.

Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Demcorat, said Pritzker has “decades of business, entrepreneurial, and, equally important for this job, civic experience” and will “help us create new businesses and job opportunities in America.”

No senator spoke against the nominee during floor debate.

A yes vote was to confirm Pritzker.

Voting yes: Shaheen, Ayotte.


OIL DRILLING, FINANCIAL RULES: Voting 256 for and 171 against, the House on Thursday passed a Republican bill (HR 1613) to implement a Gulf of Mexico deepwater drilling treaty in a way that would exempt U.S. oil companies from transparency rules in the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial regulation law. Those rules require companies to publicly disclose how much they pay the U.S. government or foreign governments for rights to extract oil, gas and minerals. They are included in a pact signed by the United States and Mexico in February 2012 to open 1.5 million acres spanning their nautical boundary in the western gulf to energy development. Sponsors of this bill said the rules could put U.S. oil firms at a disadvantage in their bidding for leases under the treaty, while opponents noted that Pemex, Mexico’s state-owned oil company, will be subject to the same disclosure requirements.

Rep. Doc Hastings, a Washington Republican, said the Dodd-Frank waiver “is necessary to help protect American jobs. . . . Without it, foreign-controlled energy companies could develop this American energy resource . . . with the net result that Americans would lose out on this energy potential.”

Rep. Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat, told Republicans “the U.S. Senate . . . will not waive the Dodd-Frank disclosure rules to allow big oil companies to make secret deals with the government of Mexico. So you’re slowing things down by repealing part of these vital Wall Street reforms.”

A yes vote was to pass the GOP bill.

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

BP OIL-SPILL LESSONS: Voting 194 for and 232 against, the House on Thursday defeated a bid to ensure that safety lessons from the BP-Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 are applied to deepwater drilling in the western gulf that occurs under HR 1613 (above). This motion by Democrats also sought to require companies responsible for spills to pay all cleanup costs. The U.S.-Mexico treaty at the heat of the bill allows each nation to answer to its own environmental and safety laws. Some U.S. regulations already have been toughened in response to BP’s spill of nearly five million barrels of oil into the gulf over 87 days three years ago, the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history.

Rep. Joe Garcia, a Florida Democrat, said: “While other gulf states suffered more (in the BP spill), Florida’s tourism and fishing were hurt. It could be even more damaging next time.”

Rep. Jeff Duncan, a South Carolina Republican, called the motion “just the latest attempt by a few on the other side of the aisle to cater to special interests instead of the needs of the American people”

A yes vote backed the Democratic motion.

Voting yes: Shea-Porter, Kuster.

EXPANDED OFFSHORE DRILLING: Voting 235 for and 186 against, the House on Thursday passed a bill (HR 2231) requiring expanded drilling in Outer Continental Shelf areas thought to have some of America’s most promising oil and gas deposits, with nearby states receiving 37.5 percent of royalties paid to the Treasury. The bill also requires drilling in specific tracts offshore from Virginia and South Carolina and lifts longstanding federal bans on drilling in Alaska’s Bristol Bay and offshore from Santa Barbara and Ventura counties in California. Depending on the state, the Outer Continental Shelf usually begins three-to-nine nautical miles from shore and reaches outward for at least 200 nautical miles.

Hastings said: “We shouldn’t have to accept potentially $4-a-gallon gas prices (at the pump), especially when we have the resources right here at home” to increase petroleum supplies.

DeFazio said: “We have seen incredible consolidation in the refinery industry, and it’s always the excuse for jacking up the price (of gasoline)
. . . and sticking it to the American consumers.”

Voting no: Shea-Porter, Kuster.

GREAT LAKES DRILLING BAN: Voting 195 for and 225 against, the House on Thursday defeated a Democratic attempt to bar HR 2231 (above) from authorizing oil and gas drilling in the Great Lakes, which are comprised of lakes Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie and Ontario. Although the bill deals mainly with Outer Continental Shelf drilling and contains no mention of the Great Lakes, backers of this motion said it contains language sufficiently broad to lead to possible drilling in these inland waters.

Rep. Brad Schneider, an Illinois Democrat, said, “Within these lakes sits 95 percent of United States surface water and 20 percent of the world’s surface water. . . . We cannot put the Great Lakes at risk of oil and gas drilling of any kind.”

Rep. Bill Flores, a Texas Republican, said the amendment “epitomizes what’s wrong with Washington Democrats’ energy and economic plan. Let’s start with the obvious – the Great Lakes are not part of the Outer Continental Shelf.”

A yes vote was to bar drilling in the Great Lakes.

Voting yes: Shea-Porter, Kuster.

BRISTOL BAY MORATORIUM: Voting 183 for and 235 against, the House on Thursday defeated a bid to strip HR 2231 (above) of its mandate for oil and gas drilling in Bristol Bay on Alaska’s southwest coast. The amendment sought to keep in force a moratorium imposed after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989. President Bush lifted the moratorium in 2007 and President Obama reinstated it in 2009.

DeFazio said, “One major spill” in Bristol Bay “would devastate the environment and the fisheries that support thousands of jobs in Alaska and all up and down the West Coast.”

A yes vote was to retain the drilling moratorium.

Voting yes: Shea-Porter, Kuster.

SANTA BARBARA MORATORIUM: Voting 176 for and 241 against, the House on Thursday defeated a bid to strip HR 2231 (above) of its language to lift a moratorium on oil and gas drilling offshore from Santa Barbara and Ventura counties in southern California. The ban was imposed after a major oil spill in that area in 1969.

Rep. Lois Capps, a California Democrat, said, “The people most affected, my constituents, don’t want new drilling” as a result of the 1969 spill, which, she said, “galvanized Central Coast residents and the entire state of California against more offshore drilling.”

A yes vote was to retain the drilling moratorium.

Voting yes: Shea-Porter, Kuster.

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