How they voted: Maine’s congressional delegation, June 10-16, 2011

Posted June 17, 2011, at 8:29 p.m.

House votes

Democratic Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree

Vote 1: Project labor agreements: The House has approved an amendment sponsored by Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio, to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (HR 2055). The amendment would strike a bill provision to end funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs to potentially establish labor agreements for its construction projects. LaTourette said the amendment would allow the government to study the use of project labor agreements as a way to deliver higher quality and less expensive construction. An opponent, Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, said the amendment would increase project costs by up to 14 percent by imposing “union collective bargaining on any private company in America that wants to do business with the federal government.” The vote, on June 13, was 204 yeas to 203 nays.

YEAS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 2: Prevailing wages for military construction: The House has rejected an amendment sponsored by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (HR 2055). The amendment would have blocked funding by the bill for enforcement of the Davis-Bacon Act requirements for the government to pay prevailing wages to workers on its construction projects. Amash said “Davis-Bacon wastes taxpayer dollars on overpriced contracts” and “gives an unfair advantage to union employees.” An opponent, Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., said Davis-Bacon ensured that the government had appropriate pay levels for construction workers and protected “the government as well as the workers in carrying out the policy of paying decent wages for government contracts.” The vote, on June 13, was 178 yeas to 232 nays.

NAYS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 3: War powers resolution: The House has approved an amendment sponsored by Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (HR 2055). The amendment would block funding provided by the bill from being used in contravention of the War Powers Resolution. Sherman said the amendment was needed to prevent presidents from sending the military “into battle for unlimited duration, for any purpose, unlimited in scope,” in violation of the rule of law. The vote, on June 13, was 248 yeas to 163 nays.

YEAS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 4: Funding military construction, veterans affairs: The House has passed the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (HR 2055), sponsored by Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas. The bill would fund military construction projects and the Department of Veterans Affairs in fiscal 2012. Culberson said its funding fully responded to the need for effective equipment, housing and health care for members of the military while also returning $388 million of unspent funds to taxpayers and cutting unnecessary costs. The vote, on June 14, was 411 yeas to 5 nays.

YEAS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 5: Cutting agriculture services: The House has rejected an amendment sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, to the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (HR 2112). The amendment would have cut funding for the Agricultural Research Service by $650 million, cut funding for the Economic Research Service by $43 million, cut funding for the National Agriculture Statistics Service by $85 million and cut funding for Food for Peace Title II Grants by $1.040 billion. Chaffetz said the cuts to the three services were a step toward unifying them and in the process eliminating spending on duplicative programs at Agriculture. An opponent, Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., said the cuts would eliminate important food research efforts and hurt foreign relations by eliminating the Food for Peace program. The vote, on June 15, was 83 yeas to 338 nays.

NAYS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 6: Increasing food aid to seniors: The House has rejected an amendment sponsored by Rep. Laura Richardson, D-Calif., to the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (HR 2112). The amendment would have increased funding for the Commodity Assistance Program by $10 million and offset the increase by cutting expenses at the Farm Service Agency. Richardson said the increase “will help to ensure that more of our seniors will continue to receive food.” An opponent, Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., said Congress had already approved a $5.6-million increase in funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and a $5-million increase in funding for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, both of which also provided food aid to seniors. The vote, on June 15, was 200 yeas to 224 nays.

NAYS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 7: Funding for tobacco center: The House has rejected an amendment sponsored by Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., to the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (HR 2112). The amendment would have cut funding for the Center for Tobacco Products by $392 million and used the savings to cut the deficit. Stearns said that by restoring funding for the center to fiscal 2009 levels, the amendment would “ensure that FDA also bears some of the burden during some of these most austere budgetary times.” An opponent, Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif., said the amendment would cut fees levied on the tobacco industry to reduce tobacco use and treat health problems from tobacco use. The vote, on June 15, was 164 yeas to 257 nays.

NAYS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 8: Funding ethanol infrastructure: The House has approved an amendment sponsored by Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., to the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (HR 2112). The amendment would bar funding for the construction of ethanol blender gas pumps or storage facilities for ethanol. Flake said the funding for ethanol cannot continue “when we are borrowing 40 cents on the dollar” to fund government operations. An opponent, Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said the amendment would discourage construction of the infrastructure needed to move the U.S. away from dependence on oil imports and improve the economic status of rural areas producing ethanol. The vote, on June 16, was 283 yeas to 128 nays.

YEAS: Michaud, Pingree

Senate votes

Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe

Vote 1: Ethanol tax credit: The Senate has rejected cloture on an amendment sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., to the Economic Development Revitalization Act (S 782). The amendment would have repealed the volumetric tax credit for ethanol production. Coburn said the credit cost $3 billion, was not supported by the ethanol industry, and went into “the hands of the large oil companies” while hurting taxpayers. An opponent, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said the repeal would reverse tax policy approved in December and therefore create uncertainty and disruption for the ethanol industry. The vote, on June 14, was 40 yeas to 59 nays, with a three-fifths majority required to approve cloture.

YEAS: Collins, Snowe

Vote 2: Ethanol tax credit: The Senate has approved an amendment sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to the Economic Development Revitalization Act (S 782). The amendment would repeal the federal tax credit for ethanol production. Feinstein said the credit cost taxpayers billions of dollars every year and was “wasteful and duplicative” of a mandate to purchase ethanol and a protective tariff against competing ethanol imports. An opponent, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, called the amendment a “misguided and undeserved” assault on a domestic industry “providing a product that helps us with one of our most pressing national issues — our dependency on imported oil.” The vote, on June 16, was 73 yeas to 27 nays.

YEAS: Collins, Snowe

Vote 3: Funding ethanol infrastructure: The Senate has rejected an amendment sponsored by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to the Economic Development Revitalization Act (S 782). The amendment would have barred funding for the construction of ethanol blender gas pumps or storage facilities for ethanol. McCain said it would save over $20 billion, and he called on Congress to take “a step towards ending unneeded and unnecessary payouts to a robust and strong industry.” An opponent, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said support for the pumps gave the oil and automotive industries certainty to develop products that used ethanol, and said the amendment “would block one of the most critical things we need to do” to lessen dependence on oil imports. The vote, on June 16, was 41 yeas to 59 nays.

YEAS: Collins, Snowe

Compiled by Targeted News Service for the Bangor Daily News.

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