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How they voted

Updated: March 1, 2013 4:06PM



WASHINGTON — Here’s how U.S. Reps. Joe Donnelly and Peter Visclosky, Democrats, and U.S. Sens. Richard Lugar and Daniel Coats, Republicans, voted on recent legislation in Congress.

House

VISAS FOR TECHNICAL WORKERS: The House passed the STEM Jobs Act (H.R. 6429), sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas. The bill would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to make up to 55,000 visas available to immigrants who hold a U.S. doctorate degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics and agree to work in their field in the U.S. for at least five years, while ending the diversity immigration visa program. Smith said the bill “makes our immigration system smarter by admitting those who have the education and skills America needs. STEM visas are substituted for Diversity Visas which invite fraud and pose a security risk.” An opponent, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., said the bill “discreetly ensures that many of the new visas will go unused by preventing unused visas after 2014 from flowing to other immigrants stuck in decades-long backlogs. This is not the way our immigration system works.” The vote, on Nov. 30, was 245 yeas to 139 nays.

Votes: Donnelly, yea; Visclosky, did not vote

ENERGY EFFICIENCY STANDARDS: The House passed the American Energy Manufacturing Technical Corrections Act (H.R. 6582), sponsored by Rep. Robert B. Aderholt, R-Ala. The bill would reform various Energy Department energy efficiency standards for appliance and other manufacturers. Aderholt said it “will both preserve jobs and create new jobs in several related fields of industry” by making “technical corrections which remove barriers to technologies and which untie the hands of companies that manufacture.” The vote, on Dec. 4, was 398 yeas to 2 nays.

Votes: Donnelly, yea; Visclosky, yea

INTERNET GOVERNANCE: The House approved a resolution (S.Con.Res. 50), sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., expressing the sense of Congress that the Internet should remain stable, secure, and free from government control, and governed under the multistakeholder model that governs the Internet today. A supporter, Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., said: “Without one entity in control, the Internet has become a driver of jobs, information, business expansion, investment, and innovation. Moving away from the multistakeholder model would harm these abilities, preventing the Internet from spreading prosperity and the cause of freedom.” The vote, on Dec. 5, was unanimous with 397 yeas.

Votes: Donnelly, yea; Visclosky, did not vote

TERMINOLOGY IN LEGAL CODE: The House passed the 21st Century Language Act (S. 2367), sponsored by Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D. The bill would strike the word “lunatic” from the federal legal code. A supporter, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said: “The term ‘lunatic’ derives from the Latin word for ‘moon.’ Before the modern era, it was used to describe a person who suffers from mental disease because of the belief that lunar cycles had an impact on brain function. But as science and medicine have progressed, society has come to understand mental illness with more clarity.” The vote, on Dec. 5, was 398 yeas to 1 nay.

Votes: Donnelly, yea; Visclosky, did not vote

Senate

SIZE OF MILITARY WORKFORCE: The Senate rejected an amendment sponsored by Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., to the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 3254). The amendment would have required the Defense Secretary to ensure that the military’s civilian and contract services workforces are sufficiently sized, taking into account military strategy requirements and end-strength goals. Cardin said: “Without this amendment being adopted, the Department [of Defense] said it will need to significantly divest workload and impose workforce caps. The amount of civilian and contractual workforce should be determined by mission, by workload and by budget, as the law provides.” An opponent, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the number of civilian personnel in the Defense Department has increased 16 percent in the last decade, and cuts in civilian staffing were needed as part of the general plan to cut military personnel. The vote, on Nov. 30, was 41 yeas to 53 nays.

Votes: Coats, nay; Lugar, nay

SANCTIONS AGAINST IRAN: The Senate approved an amendment sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., to the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 3254). The amendment would expand sanctions against Iran, to cover the country’s energy, port, shipping, and shipbuilding sectors. Menendez said given that Iran has continued its work on uranium enrichment that could eventually produce a nuclear weapon, “we must make clear to the Iranians that toughing out and waiting out is not an option; that it will only get worse.” The vote, on Nov. 30, was unanimous with 94 yeas.

Votes: Coats, yea; Lugar, yea

MILITARY SURVIVOR BENEFITS: The Senate rejected a motion to waive a budget point of order for an amendment sponsored by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., to the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 3254). The amendment would have repealed a requirement for the reduction of annuity benefits to survivors of military retirees. Nelson said the size of the annuity benefits should be preserved because the U.S. had a moral obligation to adequately compensate survivors of military personnel. An opponent of the amendment, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said it would violate the Budget Control Act by increasing spending by $7 billion in the next decade, and needed to be offset by spending reductions. The vote, on Nov. 30, was 58 yeas to 34 nays, with a three-fifths majority required to waive the point of order. Those voting yea supported keeping benefits at the current level; those voting nay opposed the amendment’s increase in deficit spending.

Votes: Coats, nay; Lugar, nay

MARYLAND DISTRICT JUDGE: The Senate confirmed the nomination of Paul William Grimm to serve as U.S. District Judge for the Maryland district. A supporter, Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., cited Grimm’s experience as a military lawyer and officer and magistrate judge, as well as his unanimously well qualified rating from the American Bar Association, and said Grimm “possesses the qualifications, temperament, and passion for justice to make him an outstanding” district judge. The lone opponent to the confirmation was Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. The vote, on Dec. 3, was 92 yeas to 1 nay.

Votes: Coats, yea; Lugar, yea

U.N. DISABILITY RIGHTS TREATY: The Senate voted against ratification of the U.N.’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. A supporter, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., said ratification would mean “the United States can join the convention as an expression of our leadership on disability rights without ceding any of our ability to decide for ourselves how best to address those issues in our laws.” An opponent, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., said ratifying the treaty would allow unelected bureaucracies at the U.N. to infringe on U.S. sovereignty by requiring the U.S. to adopt measures implemented under the terms of the treaty. The vote, on Dec. 4, was 61 yeas to 38 nays, with a two-thirds majority required to ratify the treaty.

Votes: Coats, nay; Lugar, yea

ASSESSING WAR IN SYRIA: The Senate passed an amendment sponsored by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 3254). The amendment would require the Secretary of Defense to provide congressional defense committees with a report on the potential use of limited military activities to deny Syrian President Bashar al-Assad the use of air power against opposition groups in Syria. McCain said the amendment would give committees “the information necessary to understand the various eventualities that could result in this terribly, terribly escalating and deteriorating situation in Syria.” An opponent, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said Congress should not openly discuss contingency plans for involvement in Syria’s civil war. Paul also questioned whether the Syrian opposition movement sought to “institute an Islamic republic that will have no tolerance for Christians and no tolerance for people of any other faith.” The vote, on Dec. 4, was 92 yeas to 6 nays.

Votes: Coats, yea; Lugar, yea

MILITARY SPENDING: The Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 3254), sponsored by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich. The bill would authorize $631.4 billion of military spending programs in fiscal 2013, including the Energy Department’s national security programs, and $88 billion for the war in Afghanistan and other overseas combat operations. Levin said the bill would give U.S. soldiers “the tools that they need to remain the most effective fighting force in the world” while limiting waste, fraud, and abuse in military programs. The vote, on Dec. 4, was unanimous with 98 yeas.

Votes: Coats, yea; Lugar, yea

CONNECTICUT DISTRICT JUDGE: The Senate confirmed the nomination of Michael P. Shea as U.S. District Judge for the Connecticut district. A supporter, Sen. Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., said Shea “is quite simply one of the most experienced and broadly respected litigators in our State,” with 14 years of experience as a partner at the Day Pittney law firm, handling a wide variety of cases involving commercial, civil rights, personal injury, criminal, and other cases. An opponent, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., cited Shea’s amicus brief on behalf of Connecticut municipalities in the Supreme Court case of Kelo v. New London, which determined that government had broad powers to use eminent domain to seize private property on behalf of economic development projects. The vote, on Dec. 5, was 72 yeas to 23 nays.

Votes: Coats, yea; Lugar, yea

TRADE WITH RUSSIA: The Senate passed the Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act (H.R. 6156), sponsored by Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich. The bill would extend permanent normal trade relations for products produced by Russia and Moldova. A supporter, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., said trade with Russia and Moldova “will give U.S. farmers, ranchers, businesses, and workers new opportunities in Russia and new jobs at home,” while the rule of law provisions would punish Russian human rights violations and address that country’s corruption. The vote, on Dec. 6, was 92 yeas to 4 nays.

Votes: Coats, yea; Lugar, yea

FLORIDA DISTRICT JUDGE: The Senate confirmed the nomination of Mark E. Walker to serve as U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Florida. A supporter, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., cited Walker’s “outstanding record” as a Florida circuit court judge and private attorney specializing in civil litigation and criminal defense, and said Walker’s confirmation would help diminish the high level of judicial vacancies in federal courts. The vote, on Dec. 6, was unanimous with 94 yeas.

Votes: Coats, yea; Lugar, yea



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