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A look at last week's votes in Congress

By Jerry Zremski

WASHINGTON -- Last week offered only a couple major votes in the House, including yet another near-party-line vote on repealing the Obama health care law. Meanwhile the Senate passed a water resources bill with little controversy.

Here's a closer look at how local members of Congress voted, courtesy of Targeted News Service:

HOUSE VOTES:

House Vote 1:
BLUE ALERT NETWORK: The House has passed the National Blue Alert Act
(H.R. 180), sponsored by Rep. Michael G. Grimm, R-N.Y. The bill would
establish at the Justice Department a national Blue Alert communications
network to issue information when a law enforcement officer is seriously
injured or killed in the line of duty. Grimm said the network "will
notify the media and the public so that we can have the help that we
need to aid in the apprehension of some of the most violent criminals."
The vote, on May 14, was 406 yeas to 2 nays.
YEAS: Rep. Chris Collins R-NY (27th), Rep. Brian Higgins D-NY (26th),
Rep. Tom Reed R-NY (23rd)

House Vote 2:
REPEALING HEALTH CARE REFORM: The House has passed a bill (H.R. 45),
sponsored by Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., that would repeal the 2010
health care reform law, also known as Obamacare. Bachmann said health
care reform consisted of "a lot of promises that can't be fulfilled.
Before we go forward with this train wreck, let's make sure it ends so
we can bring about cures, so we can bring about better developments in
health care." An opponent, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said the bill
would "add to the deficit, and they send us back to the days when
insurance companies were in charge, costs were skyrocketing, and tens of
millions either had no coverage--especially if they had preexisting
conditions--or coverage that they could depend on." The vote, on May 16,
was 229 yeas to 195 nays.
YEAS: Rep. Chris Collins R-NY (27th), Rep. Tom Reed R-NY (23rd)
NAYS: Rep. Brian Higgins D-NY (26th)

SENATE VOTES:

Senate Vote 1:
REGULATING WATER PROJECTS: The Senate has rejected an amendment
sponsored by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., to the Water Resources
Development Act (S. 601). The amendment would have barred guidance for
the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers to
adopt an expanded definition of waters of the United States. Barrasso
said the guidance would allow ditches and other small drainage projects
to be regulated by the federal government, which "would grant the
Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Corps of Engineers
virtually unlimited--virtually unlimited--regulatory control over all
wet areas within a State." An opponent, Sen. Barbara A. Boxer, D-Calif.,
said: "For decades the Clean Water Act has provided broad protections
for the Nation's waters. The Barrasso amendment stops the corps from
restoring these longstanding protections, leaving many waters at risk."
The vote, on May 14, was 52 yeas to 44 nays, with a three-fifths
majority required for approval.
NAYS: Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand D-NY, Sen. Charles E. Schumer D-NY

Senate Vote 2:
BEACH RENOURISHMENT TIMELINE: The Senate has rejected an amendment
sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., to the Water Resources
Development Act (S. 601). The amendment would have eliminated a bill
provision to extend federal funding for beach renourishment projects
from 50 years to 65 years. An opponent, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md.,
said beach renourishment projects help limit damage from hurricanes and
other storms while also sustaining recreational use of beaches. The
vote, on May 15, was 43 yeas to 53 nays.
NAYS: Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand D-NY, Sen. Charles E. Schumer D-NY

Senate Vote 3:
REVIEWING WATER PROJECTS: The Senate has rejected an amendment sponsored
by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., to the Water Resources Development Act (S.
601). The amendment would have removed restrictions on the authority of
the Infrastructure Deauthorization Commission to recommend the
cancellation of water projects. Coburn said excluding projects that have
begun since 1996 from the commission's authority would protect special
interests and allow wasteful projects to go forward. An opponent, Sen.
Barbara A. Boxer, D-Calif., said the amendment would allow projects "to
be stopped midstream--active projects, projects that have local funds
flowing into them and private funds flowing into them." The vote, on May
15, was 35 yeas to 61 nays.
NAYS: Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand D-NY, Sen. Charles E. Schumer D-NY

Senate Vote 4:
BUY AMERICAN RULE FOR WATER PROJECTS: The Senate has passed an amendment
sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., to the Water Resources
Development Act (S. 601). The amendment would require the use of
American iron, steel, and manufactured goods for water infrastructure
pilot projects. Merkley said: "It makes sense for American business, for
the American economy, for our workers to do as much of the work as
possible to create that supply chain in America." An opponent, Sen. Mike
Lee, R-Utah, said the requirement "could increase the cost of materials
in some Federal projects by close to 25 percent." The vote, on May 15,
was 60 yeas to 36 nays.
YEAS: Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand D-NY, Sen. Charles E. Schumer D-NY

Senate Vote 5:
WATER PROJECTS: The Senate has passed the Water Resources Development
Act (S. 601), sponsored by Sen. Barbara A. Boxer, D-Calif. The bill
would authorize Army Corps of Engineers projects to improve the
transportation and navigability of U.S. waterways and develop water
resources. Boxer said the projects were needed to prevent flooding, ease
the movement of goods between ports, and improve the environmental
quality of bodies of water such as the Everglades and Chesapeake Bay.
The vote, on May 15, was 83 yeas to 14 nays.
YEAS: Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand D-NY, Sen. Charles E. Schumer D-NY

Senate Vote 6:
CONFIRMING DISTRICT JUDGE FOR CALIFORNIA: The Senate has confirmed the
nomination of William H. Orrick III to serve as a U.S. District Judge
for the Northern District of California. A supporter, Sen. Dianne
Feinstein, D-Calif., cited Orrick's 25 years of experience as a
commercial lawyer in San Francisco and four years of experience
overseeing the Office of Immigration Litigation at the Justice
Department. Feinstein said Orrick "has proven throughout his career that
he has the intellect, skill, and temperament to do an outstanding job on
the Federal bench in San Francisco." An opponent, Sen. Chuck Grassley,
R-Iowa, said: "I was troubled by his intervention in Utah, Arizona,
South Carolina, and Alabama. In those States he led the effort to strike
down the statutes in those States addressing the Federal Government's
failure to enforce immigration laws." The vote, on May 15, was 56 yeas
to 41 nays.
YEAS: Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand D-NY, Sen. Charles E. Schumer D-NY

Senate Vote 7:
CONFIRMING ENERGY SECRETARY: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of
Ernest J. Moniz to serve as Energy Secretary. A supporter, Sen. Ron
Wyden, D-Ore., cited Moniz's experience as an Energy Department official
during the Clinton administration, professor at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, and director of MIT's energy initiative. Wyden
said Moniz "is well qualified to spearhead our efforts to evolve our
country's energy system, to increase domestic sources, emit less carbon,
and to bolster our economy." The vote, on May 16, was unanimous with 97
yeas.
YEAS: Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand D-NY, Sen. Charles E. Schumer D-NY

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About Politics Now

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.

rmccarthy@buffnews.com


Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

tprecious@buffnews.com


Jill Terreri

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.

@jillterreri | jterreri@buffnews.com


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 | jzremski@buffnews.com

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