How they voted: Maine’s congressional delegation, Sept. 2-8, 2011

Posted Sept. 09, 2011, at 6:56 p.m.

Senate votes

Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe

Vote 1: Confirming U.S. Circuit Court judge: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Bernice Bouie Donald to serve as a judge on the U.S. Sixth Circuit. A supporter, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, cited Donald’s service as a district court judge in Tennessee and bankruptcy court judge in the Sixth Circuit, as well as her well-qualified ranking from the American Bar Association. The vote, on Sept. 6, was 96 yeas to 2 nays.

YEAS: Collins, Snowe

Vote 2: Patent reform debate: The Senate has approved a cloture motion to cut off debate on the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (HR 1249), sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas. The bill would introduce a first-to-file system for reviewing patent claims, take measures to reduce the granting of low-quality patents, and increase resources at the Patent and Trademark Office for processing a backlog of patent applications. A supporter, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said the bill would “implement an improved patent system that will grow the economy and create jobs.” The vote, on Sept. 6, was 93 yeas to 5 nays, with a three-fifths majority required to approve cloture.

YEAS: Collins, Snowe

Vote 3: Patent term extensions: The Senate has rejected an amendment sponsored by Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., to the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (HR 1249). The amendment would have eliminated a provision regarding the calculation of the 60-day period for applying for extensions of patents. Sessions said that by providing a special favor to the Medicines Company after it failed to follow the law in applying for a patent extension for one of its drugs, the provision would corrupt the law. An opponent, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said that approving the amendment “will kill the bill” because the House would then not take up the altered bill again. The vote, on Sept. 8, was 47 yeas to 51 nays.

YEAS: Snowe

NAYS: Collins

Vote 4: Funding patent office: The Senate has tabled an amendment sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., to the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (H.R. 1249). The amendment would have required that patent application fees paid to the Patent Office be dedicated to funding the Office’s processing of applications. Coburn said that by ending a practice by which Congress has taken almost $1 billion of application fees away from the Patent Office since 1992, his amendment would allow the Office to better serve “the American taxpayers who are trying to get ideas and innovations, copyrights, trademarks, and patents done.” An opponent, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., said the amendment was unnecessary and “would significantly reduce oversight of the PTO” by establishing an off-budget fund for managing application fees. The vote to table the amendment, on Sept. 8, was 50 yeas to 48 nays.

YEAS: Collins

NAYS: Snowe

Vote 5: Patent reform: The Senate has passed the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (HR 1249), sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas. The bill would introduce a first-to-file system for reviewing patent claims, take measures to reduce the granting of low-quality patents, and increase resources at the Patent and Trademark Office for processing a backlog of patent applications. A supporter, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said that by making “significant reforms to our Nation’s patent system for the first time in more than half a century,” the bill would promote economic growth and job creation. An opponent, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said “it contained an egregious example of corporate welfare and blatant earmarking” designed to benefit Medicines & Company after it failed to follow drug patent laws. The vote, on Sept. 8, was 89 yeas to 9 nays.

YEAS: Collins, Snowe

Vote 6: Debt limit increase: The Senate has rejected a motion to consider the Debt Limit Increase Resolution of Disapproval (SJ Res 25), sponsored by Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. The resolution would have expressed the Senate’s disapproval of President Obama’s exercise of authority to increase the debt limit by $500 billion. McConnell said the debt limit increase would support the continuation of a failed attempt to stimulate the economy with “a collection of short-term fixes or shots in the arm that might move the needle today but which deny America’s job creators the things they need to solve this crisis — predictability, stability, fewer government burdens, and less red tape.” The vote, on Sept. 8, was 45 yeas to 52 nays.

YEAS: Collins, Snowe

House votes

Democratic Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree

There were no key votes in the House this week.

Compiled by Targeted News Service for the Bangor Daily News

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