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How WNY's members of Congress voted last week

By Jerry Zremski

It was a busy week in the House of Representatives, but all of those votes paled in significance compared to the Senate votes that, in essence, killed gun control legislation.

Here's a closer look, courtesy Targeted News Service:

HOUSE VOTES:

House Vote 1:
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD: The House has passed the Preventing
Greater Uncertainty in Labor-Management Relations Act (H.R. 1120),
sponsored by Rep. David P. Roe, R-Tenn. The bill would bar the National
Labor Relations Board from taking actions that require a quorum of the
Board's members until either the Senate has confirmed enough members to
establish a quorum, the Supreme Court has ruled on the constitutionality
of Board appointments made in January 2012, or the first session of the
113th Congress has adjourned. Roe said that by requiring the appointment
of an adequate number of Board members, the bill would resolve
uncertainty about whether Board rulings made since January 2012 are
legal. An opponent, Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., said the bill would
stop the Board from enforcing labor law, leaving workers vulnerable to
mistreatment by their employers. The vote, on April 12, was 219 yeas to
209 nays.
YEAS: Rep. Chris Collins R-Clarence.
NAYS: Rep. Brian Higgins D-Buffalo, Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning.

House Vote 2:
GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE: The House has passed the Government
Accountability Office Improvement Act (H.R. 1162), sponsored by Rep.
Darrell Issa, R-Calif. The bill would expand the Government
Accountability Office's access to data maintained by the executive
branch of the government, including the National Directory of New Hires,
and authorize the Comptroller General and head of GAO to take civil
legal actions to obtain agency records in order to perform GAO's duties.
Issa said the bill would help the GAO quickly obtain information to
carry out its mission of giving Congress "current information on how
Federal programs are performing in order to both legislate and
effectively conduct meaningful oversight." The vote, on April 15, was
unanimous with 408 yeas.
YEAS: Collins, Higgins, Reed.

House Vote 3:
TAX DELINQUENCY AND FEDERAL EMPLOYEES: The House has rejected the
Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act (H.R. 249), sponsored by Rep.
Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. The bill would have barred individuals with
seriously delinquent tax debt from being hired by the federal government
or maintaining employment with the government. Chaffetz said the bill
would discourage government employees from disobeying tax law. An
opponent, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., said: "The legislation is
unnecessary because the IRS and other executive agencies already have
procedures in place to recover back taxes from Federal employees." The
vote, on April 15, was 250 yeas to 159 nays, with a two-thirds majority
required for approval.
YEAS: Collins.
NAYS: Higgins, Reed.

House Vote 4:
GOVERNMENT INFORMATION SECURITY: The House has passed the Federal
Information Security Amendments Act(H.R. 1163), sponsored by Rep.
Darrell E. Issa, R-Calif. The bill would require government officials to
increase the automated and continuous monitoring of government
information technology systems to prevent cyberattacks. Issa said the
government needs to "address cybersecurity threats in a manner that
keeps pace with our Nation's growing dependence on technology," and the
bill was a necessary response to the changing nature of cybersecurity
threats. The vote, on April 16, was unanimous with 416 yeas.
YEAS: Collins, Higgins.
NAYS: Reed.

House Vote 5:
CYBERSECURITY PLANNING: The House has passed the Cybersecurity
Enhancement Act (H.R. 756), sponsored by Rep. Michael T. McCaul,
R-Texas. The bill would require a strategic plan for the government's
cybersecurity research and development programs, and provide for
cybersecurity scholarships to be offered to future government
cybersecurity workers by the National Science Foundation and
cybersecurity public outreach programs at the National Institute of
Standards and Technology. McCaul said the bill was a needed response to
changes in cybersecurity since 2002, when the last major cybersecurity
was enacted, and will advance cybersecurity work at government agencies.
The vote, on April 16, was 402 yeas to 16 nays.
YEAS: Collins,  Higgins, Reed.

House Vote 6:
COORDINATING CYBERSECURITY PROGRAMS: The House has passed the Advancing
America's Networking and Information Technology Research and Development
Act (H.R. 967), sponsored by Rep. Cynthia M. Lummis, R-Wyo. The bill
would establish provisions for the coordination of government research
and development efforts on cybersecurity, data security, and other
information technology programs. Lummis said: "Advances in networking
and information technology continue to transform our quality of life,
our economy, U.S. competitiveness, and our national security. This bill
provides the coordination necessary for the United States to respond to
rapid changes in these areas, it encourages innovation, and it protects
our economy." The vote, on April 16, was 406 yeas to 11 nays.
YEAS: Collins, Higgins, Reed.

House Vote 7:
CYBERSECURITY DATA SHARING: The House has passed the Cyber Intelligence
Sharing and Protection Act (H.R. 624), sponsored by Rep. Mike J. Rogers,
R-Mich. The bill would require the Director of National Intelligence to
establish procedures for the intelligence community and private business
to share information about cyber threats, and allow the government to
use shared information to investigate cybersecurity crimes and protect
national security. Rogers said: "The bill will allow the government to
share cyber threat intelligence more widely with American companies in
operationally usable form so they can help prevent state-sponsored cyber
spies from stealing American trade secrets." An opponent, Rep. Janice D.
Schakowsky, D-Ill., said: "Cybersecurity and privacy are not mutually
exclusive, and this bill fails to achieve a balance between protecting
our networks and safeguarding our liberties." The vote, on April 18, was
288 yeas to 127 nays.
YEAS: Collins, Higgins, Reed.

SENATE VOTES:

Senate Vote 1:
CONFIRMING U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination
of Beverly Reid O'Connell to serve as a U.S. District Judge for the
Central District of California. A supporter, Sen. Dianne Feinstein,
D-Calif., cited O'Connell's experience as a civil litigator, 10 years of
experience as a lawyer in the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Central
District of California, and, since 2005, as a judge in California's
Superior Court. Feinstein said: "Judge O'Connell has outstanding
credentials and an impeccable reputation, and she has received a rating
of 'well qualified' from the American Bar Association." The vote, on
April 15, was unanimous with 92 yeas.
YEAS: Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand D-NY, Sen. Charles E. Schumer D-NY.

Senate Vote 2:
BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR FIREARMS PURCHASES: The Senate has rejected an
amendment sponsored by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to the Safe
Communities, Safe Schools Act (S. 649). The amendment would have
required background checks for commercial firearms transactions, barred
the government from establishing a national firearms registry, and
created a national commission on mass violence. Manchin said the
amendment "is using common sense to protect the safety of the public,
especially our kids and at the same time protect the Second Amendment
right to bear arms." The vote, on April 17, was 54 yeas to 46 nays, with
a three-fifths majority required for approval.
YEAS: Gillibrand, Schumer.

Senate Vote 3:
REPUBLICAN GUN VIOLENCE PLAN: The Senate has rejected a substitute
amendment sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, to the Safe
Communities, Safe Schools Act (S. 649). The substitute amendment would
have added rules for including mental health records in the National
Instant Criminal Background Check System, expanded penalties for gun
trafficking and funding to prosecute illegal firearms transactions, and
authorized out-of-state gun dealers to sell firearms in a state so long
as they comply with that state's firearms laws. Grassley said the
amendment "contains commonsense measures to fight gun violence in our
communities and protect the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding gun
owners." An opponent, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., said the amendment
was not a serious effort to make progress on efforts to reduce gun
violence. The vote, on April 17, was 52 yeas to 48 nays, with a
three-fifths majority required for approval.
NAYS: Gillibrand, Schumer.

Senate Vote 4:
STRAW PURCHASES OF FIREARMS: The Senate has rejected an amendment
sponsored by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., to the Safe Communities, Safe
Schools Act (S. 649). The amendment would have made it illegal for
individuals, known as straw purchasers, to buy firearms legally in order
to deliver the firearms to individuals who cannot legally buy firearms,
and made it illegal to smuggle firearms out of the country. Leahy said
the amendment would give law enforcement officials the legal tools they
need "to fight against the drug cartels and other criminals who threaten
our communities." The vote, on April 17, was 58 yeas to 42 nays, with a
three-fifths majority required for approval.
YEAS: Gillibrand, Schumer.

Senate Vote 5:
RECIPROCITY OF CONCEALED CARRY PERMITS: The Senate has rejected an
amendment sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, to the Safe
Communities, Safe Schools Act (S. 649). The amendment would have
authorized individuals with state licenses to carry concealed handguns
to also carry their handguns in other states that authorize the issuance
of concealed handgun licenses. Cornyn said the amendment would treat
concealed carry licenses similarly to driver's licenses, so that
"someone with a concealed carry permit in Texas would no longer have to
worry about obtaining a separate one when he or she was traveling across
the country." An opponent, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said the amendment
would allow dangerous individuals who have obtained permits in states
with lax standards to carry handguns into states with laws that bar the
individuals from owning a handgun. The vote, on April 17, was 57 yeas to
43 nays, with a three-fifths majority required for a approval.
NAYS: Gillibrand, Schumer.

Senate Vote 6:
ASSAULT WEAPONS BAN: The Senate has rejected an amendment sponsored by
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to the Safe Communities, Safe Schools
Act (S. 649). The amendment would have reinstated a ban on buying
certain models of semi-automatic firearms, commonly known as assault
weapons, that expired in 2004. Feinstein said the amendment sought to
"begin to dry up the future supply of assault weapons and high-capacity
ammunition magazines over time, which will save lives." The vote, on
April 17, was 40 yeas to 60 nays.
YEAS: Gillibrand, Schumer.

Senate Vote 7:
VETERANS AND FIREARMS PURCHASES: The Senate has rejected an amendment
sponsored by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., to the Safe Communities, Safe
Schools Act (S. 649). The amendment would have required judicial review
of decisions by the Veterans Affairs Department to place veterans on the
federal list of those banned from buying firearms. Burr said that
currently, veterans found to be unable to handle their own finances are
unfairly put on the list. An opponent, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said
the amendment would take 165,000 people off the list, "all of whom have
some degree of incompetence" that indicates they should not own
firearms. The vote, on April 17, was 56 yeas to 44 nays, with a
three-fifths majority required for approval.
NAYS: Gillibrand, Schumer.

Senate Vote 8:
BANNING HIGH-CAPACITY AMMUNITION FEEDING DEVICES: The Senate has
rejected an amendment sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., to
the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act (S. 649). The amendment would
have barred the possession of devices to feed more than 10 rounds of
ammunition into a firearm. Blumenthal said the devices "are used to kill
more people more quickly and, in fact, have been used in more than half
the mass shootings since 1982." An opponent, Sen. Chuck Grassley,
R-Iowa, said: "There is no evidence banning these magazines has reduced
the deaths from gun crimes. In fact, when the previous ban [on the
devices] was in effect, a higher percentage of gun crime victims were
killed or wounded than before it was adopted." The vote, on April 17,
was 46 yeas to 54 nays.
YEAS: Gillibrand, Schumer.

Senate Vote 9:
RELEASING INFORMATION ON GUN OWNERSHIP: The Senate has passed an
amendment sponsored by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., to the Safe
Communities, Safe Schools Act (S. 649). The amendment would withhold 5
percent of federal funding for state and local Community Oriented
Policing Services programs if those governments release sensitive and
confidential information on gun ownership of law-abiding individuals.
Barrasso said the amendment "protects the privacy and safety of
law-abiding gun owners. When government officials release gun ownership
information, it puts many lives at risk." An opponent, Sen. Patrick J.
Leahy, D-Vt., said the amendment would hurt states by reducing funding
for their law enforcement efforts. The vote, on April 18, was 67 yeas to
30 nays.
NAYS: Gillibrand, Schumer.

Senate Vote 10:
MENTAL HEALTH PROGRAMS: The Senate has passed an amendment sponsored by
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, to the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act (S.
649). The amendment would reauthorize Department of Education and Health
and Human Services programs to prevent and treat mental health
conditions and substance abuse disorders. Harkin said: "We need to do a
better job of early identification, intervention, and providing support
services for the mental health of our children in this country." The
vote, on April 18, was 95 yeas to 2 nays.
YEAS: Gillibrand, Schumer.

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Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

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Tom Precious

Tom Precious

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Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

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Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski | [email protected]

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