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How they voted: Maine’s congressional delegation, July 22-28, 2011

By Targeted News Service, Special to the BDN

House votes

Democratic Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree

Vote 1: Funding legislative branch: The House has passed the Legislative Branch Appropriations Act (HR 2251), sponsored by Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla. The bill would provide $3.3 billion of funding for the legislative branch of government in fiscal 2012. Crenshaw said that by cutting fiscal 2011 spending by $227 million, the bill would make “fiscally responsible savings that will allow us to continue to do our job” with increased efficiency and lower expenses. An opponent, Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., said the cuts would be made “at the expense of jobs, strong oversight, and common-sense efficiencies” as efforts to ensure the safety of legislators would be curtailed and spending oversight programs would be diminished. The vote, on July 22, was 252 yeas to 159 nays.

NAYS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 2: Cutting EPA funding: The House has rejected an amendment sponsored by Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., to the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (HR 2584). The amendment would have cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency, arts and humanities agencies, and other programs by $3 billion. Huelskamp said the EPA cuts would prevent the agency from developing new regulations imposing “billions in costs on our economy in exchange for nearly immeasurable incremental changes in our water and air quality.” An opponent, Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., said the EPA cuts “would have a devastating effect on our environment” and the $3 billion of total cuts in the amendment would hurt the economy by cutting government jobs related to infrastructure projects. The vote, on July 25, was 126 yeas to 284 nays.

NAYS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 3: Veterans and higher education: The House has agreed to the Senate amendments to the Restoring GI Bill Fairness Act (HR 1383), sponsored by Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla. The bill would temporarily suspend a cap on payments for tuition and fees at private colleges for veterans enrolled in educational assistance programs at Veterans Affairs. Miller said the suspension would allow veterans to continue their education without being hurt by a cut in the level of payments from Veterans Affairs. The vote, on July 26, was unanimous with 424 yeas.

YEAS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 4: Endangered species: The House has approved an amendment sponsored by Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., to the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (HR 2584). The amendment would eliminate a provision to block funding for the Fish and Wildlife Service to list species as threatened or endangered species and designate critical habitat for recovery of the species. Dicks said the provision was an unsound effort to drastically reform the Endangered Species Act by blocking actions to protect declining species. An opponent, Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, said that by removing caps on funding for endangered species listings, the amendment would put the Fish and Wildlife Service’s operating budget “at risk of being raided in order to fund court-ordered mandates to list species and designate critical habitat.” The vote, on July 27, was 224 yeas to 202 nays.

YEAS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 5: Diesel emissions grants: The House has rejected an amendment sponsored by Rep. Laura Richardson, D-Calif., to the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (HR 2584). The amendment would have added $5 million of funding for grants issued to states under the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act and offset the increase by cutting $10 million from the EPA Buildings and Facilities account. Richardson said that by cutting diesel emissions, her amendment would improve public health while also saving money by cutting fuel use. An opponent, Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., said the $10 million offset cut in funding for buildings and facilities projects at EPA was excessive because “we just don’t have the money to take care of this offset.” The vote, on July 27, was 193 yeas to 232 nays.

YEAS: Pingree

NAYS: Michaud

Senate votes

Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe

Vote 1: Cut, cap and balance: The Senate has tabled a motion to consider the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act (HR 2560), sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. The bill would have cut discretionary government spending in fiscal 2012 by $111 billion, cap spending at variable percentages of GDP in fiscal 2012 through fiscal 2021. It also sought to bring a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution to a vote in Congress. A supporter, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., called the bill “a serious, meaningful effort to address spending and debt and to put this country back on a sustainable fiscal course.” An opponent, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said it was a “radical plan to kill Medicare and Social Security” while preserving tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy. The vote, on July 22, was 51 yeas to 46 nays.

NAYS: Collins, Snowe

Compiled by Targeted News Service for the Bangor Daily News.

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