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How they voted

Updated: November 22, 2013 3:06PM



WASHINGTON — This is how Northwest Indiana’s congressional delegation — U.S. Reps. Jackie Walorski, Republican, and Peter J. Visclosky, Democrat, and U.S. Sens. Joe Donnelly, Democrat, and Dan Coats, Republican — voted on key legislation.

House

REALIGNING MISSISSIPPI JUDICIAL DISTRICT: The House passed a bill (H.R. 2871), sponsored by Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C., that would adjust the structure of the southern federal judicial district in Mississippi by realigning the district’s four geographical divisions and changing the placement of the courts for the four divisions. Coble said the realignment “will enable the affected judges, bar, and the public to be better served by a more rational structure, organization, and composition of Federal judicial districts in Mississippi and permit the Federal judiciary and the Department of Justice to achieve substantial cost savings.” The vote, on Nov. 12, was unanimous with 401 yeas.

Votes: Visclosky, yea; Walorski, yea

SUPREME COURT POLICE: The House passed a bill (H.R. 2922), sponsored by Rep. George Holding, R-N.C., to extend by six years the authority of the Supreme Court Police to protect court officials beyond the grounds of the Supreme Court. Holding said the extension was vital to ensuring “that Justices, Court employees, and their official visitors be able to perform their critical duties with the knowledge that they are provided adequate and appropriate protective services” in locations outside of the court. The vote, on Nov. 12, was 399 yeas to 3 nays.

Votes: Visclosky, yea; Walorski, yea

ASBESTOS ANTI-FRAUD MEASURES: The House rejected an amendment sponsored by Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., to the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (H.R. 982). The amendment would have exempted asbestos claims trusts that have their own anti-fraud procedures from the requirement to make public quarterly reports on their receipt and handling of the claims. Cohen said the amendment “ensures that to the extent that a trust already has measures in place to ferret out potential fraudulent claims, it should not have to bear the costs, burdens, and privacy risks presented by H.R. 982’s requirements.” An opponent, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said internal anti-fraud measures at the trusts have not succeeded in eliminating fraud, making a universal anti-fraud requirement necessary. The vote, on Nov. 13, was 198 yeas to 223 nays.

Votes: Visclosky, yea; Walorski, nay

ASBESTOS HEALTH DISCLOSURES: The House rejected an amendment sponsored by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., to the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (H.R. 982). The amendment would have required defendants that request information from asbestos claims trusts about claims payments to disclose information about how issues related to the requests impact public health and public safety. Nadler said the disclosure requirement “would ensure that the transparency the bill’s supporters demand from the victims of the asbestos industry will also be applied to the corporations that have inflicted so much damage and so much suffering over the years” by exposing individuals to asbestos. An opponent, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said the requirement would expose defendants to the possibility of having to comply with requests unrelated to the asbestos claims and would impair the ability of the defendants to assert their cases in court. The vote, on Nov. 13, was 194 yeas to 226 nays.

Votes: Visclosky, yea; Walorski, nay

ASBESTOS CLAIMS TRANSPARENCY: The House rejected an amendment sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, to the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (H.R. 982). The amendment would have required defendants represented by asbestos claims trusts to disclose information to the trusts and claimants about the name and location of products made by the defendants that contained asbestos. Jackson Lee said the amendment would appropriately apply similar transparence rules for both claimants and defendants in asbestos cases, ensuring that both sides of the cases have similar levels of information. An opponent, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said claimants “already have the ability to gain access to the defendant’s information through the traditional discovery process” of the claims process. The vote, on Nov. 13, was 195 yeas to 226 nays.

Votes: Visclosky, yea; Walorski, nay

REPORTING ASBESTOS CLAIMS: The House passed the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (H.R. 982), sponsored by Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas. The bill would require that trusts established by companies to handle claims for injuries suffered by individuals exposed to asbestos make public quarterly reports on their receipt and handling of the claims. Farenthold said the reports would prevent fraud by keeping track of individuals who have filed claims, thereby ensuring that claims for the same injury are not filed twice, without endangering the privacy of claimants. An opponent, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, said the reports would block the right of individuals to have counsel for their asbestos claims by including information that could be given in a court proceeding. The vote, on Nov. 13, was 221 yeas to 199 nays.

Votes: Visclosky, nay; Walorski, yea

FRIVOLOUS LAWSUITS: The House passed the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (H.R. 2655), sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas. The bill would require lawyers who file lawsuits found to be frivolous to pay attorneys’ fees and court costs for lawsuit defendants. Smith said it “restores accountability to our legal system by reinstating mandatory sanctions for attorneys who file frivolous lawsuits,” and thereby discouraging the lawsuits. An opponent, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, said the bill would create a bias in the legal system against plaintiffs with fewer resources than the companies they are suing. The vote, on Nov. 14, was 228 yeas to 195 nays.

Votes: Visclosky, nay; Walorski, yea

DAM SAFETY AND WATER RESOURCES BILL: The House agreed to a motion sponsored by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., to instruct House conferees on negotiations with the Senate over the two chambers’ versions of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (H.R. 3080). The conferees were instructed to concur with Senate provisions relating to measures to reauthorize a dam safety program in order to reduce the risk of dam failure. Maloney said the program would cost only $9.2 million annually, less than the cost of a single dam failure, and would provide vital support to states in “developing emergency action plans, in implementing existing dam safety programs, in assisting with the purchase of equipment, and in conducting dam inspections.” The vote, on Nov. 14, was 347 yeas to 76 nays.

Votes: Visclosky, yea; Walorski, yea

Senate

COURT OF APPEALS NOMINEE: The Senate rejected a motion to end debate on the nomination of Cornelia T. L. Pillard to serve as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. A supporter, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., cited Pillard’s experience as an official in the U.S. Solicitor General’s office and in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, as well as her work as a law professor at Georgetown University. Durbin said: “ There is no question that Ms. Pillard has the intellect, experience, and integrity to be an excellent Federal court judge. She has received strong letters of recommendation from Republicans and Democrats, from law enforcement and law professors.” An opponent, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said adding Pillard to the court would allow President Obama to circumvent Congress by winning approval from the D.C. Circuit Court for administrative actions, such as a cap-and-trade program to limit greenhouse gas emissions, that Congress will not pass into law. The vote, on Nov. 12, was 56 yeas to 41 nays, with a three-fifths majority required to end debate.

Votes: Coats, nay; Donnelly, yea



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