WASHINGTON -- The House spent much of last week on natural resource and transportation issues, but two votes stand out -- both for their importance and for the willingness of local members of Congress to cross party lines.
When the House passed a three-month extension of transportation funding, 113 Democrats voted no, complaining that the stopgap measure was no way to run a highway system and that Congress should finally come to a long-term solution to pay for our nation's roads. But Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul, D-Amherst, and Rep. Brian Higgins, D-N.Y., were among the 69 Democrats who voted yes.
That's no surprise, really, given that both lawmakers have a keen interest in bringing highway funds back to New York.
But Hochul's vote for a Republican small business tax plan was a surprise.
Many Democrats lashed out at the bill as a blunt-object tax givaway that could end up benefitting hedge funds as well as corner bakeries, but that's not how Hochul saw it.
"We have to do everything we can to help our small businesses, and by giving them a tax break they will have the resources to expand inventory, but also they will be able to hire more employees," she said.
On the Senate side, one vote stood out last week. To no one's surprise, Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., voted for the "Buffett Rule" tax hike on millionaires and billionaires.
Here are the votes of Western New York's four members of the House of Representatives and the state's two U.S. senators on major legislation in Congress last week. A "Y" means the member voted for the measure; an "N" means the member voted against the measure; an "A" means the member did not vote.
* Hunting and Fishing in National Park System: The House rejected an amendment sponsored by Rep. Rush D. Holt, D-N.J., to the Sportsmen's Heritage Act. The amendment would have stated that all units of the National Park System were exempt from the bill's provisions for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting management of federal lands. Holt said his amendment would ensure that "we don't carelessly open up to gunfire consecrated grounds like the Civil War battlefields, like the parks and beaches and forests of our national recreation areas."
The vote April 17 was 152 yeas to 260 nays.
Reps. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, Y; Kathleen C. Hochul, D-Amherst, N; Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport, A; Tom Reed, R-Corning, N.