How they voted: Maine’s congressional delegation, July 15-21, 2011

Posted July 22, 2011, at 5:40 p.m.

House votes

Democratic Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree

Vote 1: Funding solar research: The House has approved an amendment sponsored by Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, to the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (HR 2354). The amendment would increase funding for solar energy research and development by $10 million and offset the increase by cutting funding for administration at the Department of Energy by $10 million. Kaptur said the increase in solar investment would promote “a viable energy future for America” and spur continued job creation and economic growth as well. An opponent, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., said the cut in administrative funding could leave the Department of Energy without adequate funds to fulfill its various responsibilities, and said there was already $9 billion of unspent stimulus funds that Energy could use to support solar research and development. The vote, on July 15, was 212 yeas to 210 nays.

YEAS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 2: Energy and water: The House has passed the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (HR 2354), sponsored by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J. The bill would provide $30.6 billion of funding for the Department of Energy, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other energy and water agencies in fiscal 2012. Frelinghuysen said the bill supported “programs critical to our nation’s security, safety and economic competitiveness” and applied “much greater fiscal discipline” by cutting spending on unnecessary programs. An opponent, Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., said the bill displayed “misplaced spending priorities” by reducing funding for renewable energy, electric vehicles and energy efficiency, while increasing funding for fossil fuels and nuclear energy. The vote, on July 15, was 219 yeas to 196 nays.

NAYS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 3: Church pension plans: The House has passed the Church Plan Investment Clarification Act (HR 33), sponsored by Rep. Judy Biggert, R-Ill. The bill would specify that church pension plans, like secular pension plans, qualified for an exemption allowing them to invest in collective trusts. Biggert said it would give church pension plans an equal opportunity to reap “the benefits of collective buying power” by joining with other pension plans in the collective trusts. The vote, on July 18, was 310 yeas to 1 nay.

NOT VOTING: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 4: Cutting government spending: The House has passed the Cut, Cap and Balance Act (HR 2560), sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. The bill would cut discretionary government spending in fiscal year 2012 by $111 billion, cap spending at variable percentages of GDP in fiscal year 2012 through fiscal year 2021. It would also seek to bring a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution to a vote in Congress. Chaffetz said the bill was “a real plan that can solve the problem” of increasing the national debt by changing “the way we do business in Washington” An opponent, Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said the bill sought “to end the Medicare guarantee, to slash Medicaid, to cut education while protecting special interest tax breaks, like subsidies for Big Oil companies.” The vote, on July 19, was 234 yeas to 190 nays.

NAYS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 5: Extending FAA funding: The House has passed part IV of the Airport and Airway Extension Act (HR 2553), sponsored by Rep. John Mica, R-Fla. The bill would extend funding for the Federal Aviation Administration through Sept. 16 and cut funding for the Essential Air Services program. Mica said the extension was needed to continue providing FAA services throughout the summer while the cuts in Essential Air Services would limit wasteful spending. An opponent, Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Ill., said the cuts to Essential Air Service would be made without proper consideration of their impact on affected smaller communities. The vote, on July 20, was 243 yeas to 177 nays.

NAYS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 6: Overhauling new financial regulations: The House has rejected an amendment sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, to the Consumer Financial Protection Safety and Soundness Improvement Act (HR 1315). The amendment would have required approval from a two-thirds majority of the Financial Stability Oversight Council to overrule Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regulations. Jackson Lee said the two-thirds requirement would make it harder for the council “to weaken consumer protections” adopted by the bureau. An opponent, Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Va., said allowing a simple majority to overturn regulations would help prevent the establishment of “harmful rules to our community banks and our credit unions.” The vote, on July 21, was 170 yeas to 239 nays.

YEAS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 7: Impacts of financial protection rules: The House has rejected an amendment sponsored by Rep. Brad Miller, D-N.C., to the Consumer Financial Protection Safety and Soundness Improvement Act (HR 1315). The amendment would have required the Financial Stability Oversight Council to provide information on specific banks it believed would be harmed by new regulations established by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in order to overturn the regulations. Miller said his amendment would help ensure that the council did not overturn regulations in order to protect “sleazy banks that stay in business whose whole business model is cheating consumers.” An opponent, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said the amendment was unnecessary and would make it harder for the Council “to oversee a certain rule and regulation” that could be overturned. The vote, on July 21, was 175 yeas to 238 nays.

YEAS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 8: Reviewing financial protection rules: The House has rejected an amendment sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, to the Consumer Financial Protection Safety and Soundness Improvement Act (HR 1315). The amendment would have imposed time limits for the Financial Stability Oversight Council to issue stays on regulations from the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. Jackson Lee said the time limits would prevent “an endless delay and an endless issuance of stays which would thereby render any CFPB rule ineffective.” An opponent, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said the time limits would prevent the council from reviewing regulations with negative impacts that were only discovered after the limits had passed. The vote, on July 21, was 175 yeas to 240 nays.

YEAS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 9: Analyzing financial regulations: The House has approved an amendment sponsored by Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., to the Consumer Financial Protection Safety and Soundness Improvement Act (HR 1315). The amendment would require the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to submit analyzes of the impact of its proposed regulations to the Financial Stability Oversight Council. Rigell said his amendment would help restrict the Bureau from establishing regulations that limited access to credit and threatened to “choke out the life of the small business entrepreneur.” An opponent, Rep. James Himes, D-Conn., said the amendment “would just make government more unwieldy and filled with more red tape” by requiring redundant analyzes of proposed regulations. The vote, on July 21, was 246 yeas to 167 nays.

NAYS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 10: Consumer financial protection: The House has passed the Consumer Financial Protection Safety and Soundness Improvement Act (HR 1315), sponsored by Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis. The bill would allow a majority of the Financial Stability Oversight Council to override Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regulations and establish a five-person commission at the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Duffy said his bill would establish “commonsense reform that is going to strengthen consumer protection and provide great oversight for a very powerful agency, and it’s going to hold it accountable.” An opponent, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said the changes “would only hurt America’s consumers and turn our economy upside down” by “preventing the CFPB from doing its work.” The vote, on July 21, was 241 yeas to 173 nays.

NAYS: Michaud, Pingree

Senate votes

Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe

Vote 1: Military spending and the budget: The Senate has tabled an amendment sponsored by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act (HR 2055). The amendment would have prevented funding provided by the bill from exceeding the level of the fiscal year 2012 budget resolution that is expected to be passed by Congress. Vitter said Congress needed to approve an overall budget for fiscal year 2012 to provide guidance for spending in any appropriations bill before making individual spending decisions that are binding. An opponent, Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., said approving the amendment would “delay essential funding for our troops and vets while negotiations on the debt ceiling and budget continue.” The vote to table the amendment, on July 20, was 69 yeas to 30 nays.

YEAS: Collins

NAYS: Snowe

Vote 2: Veterans and disability: The Senate has tabled an amendment sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., to the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act (HR 2055). The amendment would have required evidence of a causal relationship between veterans’ exposure to herbicides and their subsequent health problems for veterans to receive disability assistance from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Coburn said “we ought to be using science to positively connect causality with any disability we grant” rather than provide aid for disabilities not connected to military service. An opponent, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said the amendment would unjustly force Vietnam War veterans to continue waiting to receive compensation for exposure to Agent Orange. The vote to table the amendment, on July 20, was 69 yeas to 30 nays.

YEAS: Collins, Snowe

Vote 3: Funding military construction, veterans affairs: The Senate 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 provide funding for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and provide $11.1 billion in military construction funds in fiscal year 2012. A supporter, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said it supported construction of necessary new facilities and fulfilled the government’s commitment “to providing our veterans with the care, services and facilities they deserve.” The vote, on July 20, was 97 yeas to 2 nays.

YEAS: Collins, Snowe

Compiled by Targeted News Service for the Bangor Daily News.

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