Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Which Democrats Need to be "REIN"ed in to Stop Voting w/ the GOP to Gut Public Interest Regulations?

Today, the House GOP continued with the latest episode in its war against public interest regulations with the so-called Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2015 (REINS).

What does the bill do?
This bill modifies the federal rule-making process by requiring Congress to approve executive agency regulatory proposals that are deemed to be “major rules” (those with an economic impact greater than $100 million) – rather than allowing Congress to disapprove of those proposed rules and regulations, as is currently the case under the Congressional Review Act (CRA). This bill would seek to give Congress the responsibility of approving any rule proposed by the administration before it can go into effect.

By requiring Congressional approval of major rules, this measure would stifle Federal agency rulemaking, while undermining the ability of agencies to provide essential protections to Americans.
The bill passed 243 to 165.

Two Democrats--Henry Cuellar (TX-28) and Collin Peterson (MN-07) joined Republicans in voting for it.

Faux Transparency

David Young (IA-03) offered an amendment to require agencies to publish in the federal register a list of information on which a rule is based, including data, scientific and economic studies, and cost-benefit analyses, and where the public can access it online.

The problem with this amendment is that public health studies often use private medical data, trade secrets, and industry data that cannot legally be made public. Such an amendment, then, is trying to block federal regulators from issuing regulations based on such vital studies.

It passed 250 to 159.

8 Democrats joined the GOP in voting for it.

Brad Ashford (NE-02)
Sanford Bishop (GA-02)
Julia Brownley (CA-26)
Susan Davis (CA-53)
Gene Green (TX-29)
Scott Peters (CA-52)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09)

Affordable Care Act


Jason Smith (MO-08) offered an amendment to require congressional approval for all rules proposed under the authority of the Affordable Care Act.

It passed 242 to 167.

2 Democrats—Dan Lipinski (IL-03) and Collin Peterson (MN-07)—joined Republicans in voting for it.

1 Republican—Chris Gibson (NY-19)—joined Democrats in voting against it.

Job Growth

Hank Johnson (GA-04) offered an amendment to add an exception to the bill for rules that the Administrator of the Office of Management and Budget determines would result in net job growth.

It failed 163 to 246.

5 Democrats joined the GOP in voting against it:

Joe Crowley (NY-14)
Donna Edwards (MD-04)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02)
Kurt Schrader (OR-05)

Pipeline Safety

Lois Capps (CA-24) offered an amendment to ensure that any rule intended to ensure the safety of natural gas or hazardous materials pipelines or prevent, mitigate, or reduce the impact of spills from such pipelines is not considered a "major rule" under the bill.

It failed 166 to 244.

Two Democrats—Jim Costa (CA-16) and Collin Peterson (MN-07)—joined the GOP in voting against it.

Public Health and Safety


David Cicilline (RI-01) offered two amendments. The first was to exempt rules pertaining to the protection of the public health or safety from the requirements of the Act.

It failed 166 to 242.

Two Democrats—Jim Costa (CA-16) and Collin Peterson (MN-07)—joined the GOP in voting against it.

His second amendment was to provide a "special rule" pertaining to the safety of any products specifically designed to be used or consumed by a child under the age of 2 years (including cribs, car seats, and infant formula).

It failed 167 to 243.

Only 1 Democrat—Collin Peterson (MN-07)—joined the GOP in voting against it.

Nuclear Power

Jerry Nadler (NY-10) offered an amendment to exempt from the bill's congressional approval requirement any rule pertaining to nuclear reactor safety standards in order to prevent nuclear meltdowns like the one in Fukushima.

It failed 167 to 241.

Two Democrats—Jim Costa (CA-16) and Collin Peterson (MN-07)—joined the GOP in voting against it.

Veterans' Services
Mark Pocan (WI-02) offered an amendment to exempt the Department of Veterans Affairs from the requirements of this legislation as they relate to rulemaking for the availability of affordable medication and effective healthcare management for veterans.

It failed 167 to 239.

One Republican—Sam Graves (MO-06)—joined Democrats in voting for it.

One Democrat—Collin Peterson (MN-07)—joined Republicans in voting against it.

Which 6 Democrats Just Voted to Punish Sanctuary Cities?

On Thursday, the House passed the so-called Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act.

The bill would deny federal criminal justice grants to local governments that have adopted policies to limit when law enforcement officers may gather and disseminate information about any person’s immigration status.  These policies are important for public safety because immigrants can report crimes without fearing deportation.

Here is the long statement against the bill in the House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer's daily caucus briefing:
H.R. 3009 is purportedly coming to the Floor in an effort to respond to the tragic death of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco earlier this month, but unfortunately H.R. 3009 does not actually address the problem. Instead it is another cynical, political effort to appeal to the most right-wing, anti-immigrant base of the Republican party.
H.R. 3009 claims to be a legislative solution to the tragic death earlier this month of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant.  In point of fact, H.R. 3009, had it been law, would not have prevented the sequence of events in the months leading up to this tragedy, which began when the Federal Bureau of Prisons, after holding Lopez-Sanchez for illegal entry into the U.S, in March 2015 transferred him to the custody of the San Francisco’s sheriff office based on a 20-year-old warrant for a marijuana charge in the expectation that the local district attorney would prosecute Lopez-Sanchez.  Rather than pursue the charge, however, the city’s district attorney chose to drop it, which led the sheriff’s office to release Lopez-Sanchez, without notification to federal immigration officials, into the local community in April rather than to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for deportation. In retrospect, it seems that a combination of miscommunication and bureaucratic errors contributed to this tragedy.
What has become clear in the three weeks since this tragedy occurred is that nothing in H.R. 3009 would have encouraged or required the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department to certify that the district attorney’s office would in fact prosecute Lopez-Sanchez before taking custody of him from the Bureau of Prisons.
Also clear is that nothing in H.R. 3009 would have required the Bureau of Prisons and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to consult with both the Sheriff’s Department and the district attorney’s office to determine whether justice would be better served by having ICE promptly deport Lopez-Sanchez from the country rather than transferring him to the Sheriff’s Department for an unlikely prosecution on an old drug charge. And lastly, nothing in H.R. 3009 would even have affected the Sheriff Department’s failure to notify ICE that it was releasing Mr. Lopez-Sanchez from jail.
This bill would deny federal criminal justice grants to local governments that have adopted policies to limit when law enforcement officers may gather and disseminate information about any person’s immigration status.  Such policies are commonly adopted to encourage all residents to cooperate with local law enforcement agencies to enhance public safety. This bill is not intended to address the actual tragedy that occurred, but is instead being rushed to the Floor by House Republicans as a way to demonize immigrants and spread the myth that they are criminals and threats to the public.
This bill would second-guess the decisions made by police chiefs and sheriffs around the country about how best to police their communities and ensure public safety. That is why the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force have urged Congress not to take precipitous action on this bill because it would have a negative impact on law enforcement agencies and public safety across the nation.
In a perverse twist, this bill attempts to force State and local law enforcement agencies to do the Federal government’s job on immigration rather than promoting public safety and community policing by withholding from them federal funds that are specifically targeted to enhance public safety, support community policing and assist crime victims. The Major County Sheriffs’ Association and the Fraternal Order of Police strongly oppose the bill on this ground alone.
Once again, House Republicans are proving that they are incapable of putting any immigration bill on the Floor that doesn't pursue a deportation-only approach. Whether it is deporting DREAMers, the parents of U.S. citizens, children fleeing violence and trafficking,‎ or co-opting the public safety mission of state and local law enforcement agencies to increase deportations all around, that's all House Republicans have been willing to bring to the Floor. They have not taken any action to address the underlying issue and bring forward a comprehensive immigration reform bill.  A real solution and one that would actually make America safer is a sensible immigration system based on legality – getting millions of immigrants into the system and on-the-books if they are playing by the rules and are not criminals or threats to public safety.  
Fixing our immigration system will resolve many of the issues States and localities must now address because of federal inaction. It would also make our communities safer.  Democrats and almost all Americans are united in support for that approach, and it is irresponsible of House Republicans to focus on partisan gimmickry at the expense of making real progress on immigration reform.  Members are urged to VOTE NO.
The bill passed 241 to 179

Six Democrats joined the GOP in voting for the bill:

Ami Bera (CA-07)
Jim Cooper (TN-05)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Bill Keating (MA-09)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09)

And five Republicans joined Democrats in voting against it:

Carlos Curbelo (FL-26)
Bob Dold (IL-10)
Dan Donovan (NY-11)
Pete King (NY-02)
Dave Reichert (WA-08)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Which 45 Dems Voted to Block States from Labeling GMOs?

Yesterday, the House passed the so-called Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015.

What would the bill do? It codifies the existing voluntary non-GMO labeling policy of the FDA and would make it "virtually impossible" to craft a national mandatory GMO labeling system. It would preempt states from passing their own labeling system and invalidate laws already passed. Moreover, it would allow "natural" claims on foods with GMOs.

Note, of course, that Republicans are always ready to discard "states' rights" when the interests of donors (here, agribusiness) are concerned.

The bill passed 275 to 150.

230 Republicans and 45 Democrats voted for it. 138 Democrats and 12 Republicans voted against it.

Here are the 45 Democrats:

Alma Adams (NC-12)
Brad Ashford (NE-02)
Ami Bera (CA-07)
Sanford Bishop (GA-02)
Corrine Brown (FL-05)
Cheri Bustos (IL-17)
G. K. Butterfield (NC-01)
John Carney (DE-AL)
Kathy Castor (FL-14)
Lacy Clay (MO-01)
Emmanuel Cleaver (MO-05)
Jim Clyburn (SC-06)
Jim Cooper (TN-05)
Jim Costa (CA-16)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Danny Davis (IL-07)
Tammy Duckworth (IL-08)
Bill Foster (IL-11)
Marcia Fudge (OH-11)
John Garamendi (CA-03)
Gwen Graham (FL-02)
Al Green (TX-09)
Gene Green (TX-29)
Alcee Hastings (FL-20)
Ruben Hinojosa (TX-15)
Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18)
Eddie B. Johnson (TX-30)
Robin Kelly (IL-02)
Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-01)
Brenda Lawrence (MI-14)
Dan Lipinski (IL-03)
David Loebsack (IA-02)
Betty McCollum (MN-04)
Donald Norcross (NJ-01)
Bill Pascrell (NJ-09)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
Cedric Richmond (LA-02)
Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02)
Kurt Schrader (OR-05)
David Scott (GA-13)
Terri Sewell (AL-07)
Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09)
Bennie Thompson (MS-02)
Marc Veasey (TX-33)
Tim Walz (MN-01)
Here are the 12 Republicans:
Justin Amash (MI-03)
Vern Buchanan (FL-16)
Jimmy Duncan (TN-02)
Trent Franks (AZ-08)
Chris Gibson (NY-19)
Leonard Lance (NJ-07)
Tom Massie (KY-04)
Bruce Poliquin (ME-02)
Bill Posey (FL-08)
Mark Sanford (SC-01)
Chris Smith (NJ-04)
Lee Zeldin (NY-01)

Pete DeFazio (OR-04) offered an amendment to establish that if a U.S. company or their subsidiary labels their product as containing GMOs in any foreign country they must label the equivalent product the same way in the U.S.

It failed 123 to 303.

122 Democrats and 1 Republican—Mark Sanford (SC-01)—voted for it.

61 Democrats and 242 Republicans voted for it.

Here are the 61 Democrats:

Brad Ashford (NE-02)
Ami Bera (CA-07)
Sanford Bishop (GA-02)
Cheri Bustos (IL-17)
G. K. Butterfield (NC-01)
John Carney (DE-AL)
Kathy Castor (FL-14)
Lacy Clay (MO-01)
Jim Clyburn (SC-06)
Jim Cooper (TN-05)
Jim Costa (CA-16)
Joe Crowley (NY-14)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Susan Davis (CA-53)
John Delaney (MD-06)
Suzan DelBene (WA-01)
Ted Deutch (FL01)
Debbie Dingell (MI-12)
Mike Doyle (PA-14)
Tammy Duckworth (IL-08)
Eliot Engel (NY-16)
Bill Foster (IL-11)
Lois Frankel (FL-22)
Marcia Fudge (OH-11)
John Garamendi (CA-03)
Gwen Graham (FL-02)
Denny Heck (WA-10)
Jim Himes (CT-04)
Ruben Hinojosa (TX-15)
Steny Hoyer (MD-05)
Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08)
Robin Kelly (IL-02)
Dan Kildee (MI-05)
Derek Kilmer (WA-06)
Ron Kind (WI-03)
Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-01)
Rick Larsen (WA-02)
Brenda Lawrence (MI-14)
Dan Lipinski (IL-03)
David Loebsack (IA-02)
Jerry McNerney (CA-09)
Gregory Meeks (NY-05)
Patrick Murphy (FL-18)
Frank Pallone (NJ-06)
Scott Peters (CA-52)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
David Price (NC-04)
Mike Quigley (IL-05)
Cedric Richmond (LA-02)
Raul Ruiz (CA-36)
John Sarbanes (MD-03)
Kurt Schrader (OR-05)
David Scott (GA-13)
Terri Sewell (AL-07)
Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09)
Mark Takano (CA-41)
Bennie Thompson (MS-02)
Juan Vargas (CA-51)
Marc Veasey (TX-33)
Tim Walz (MN-01)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23)

Jared Huffman (CA-02) offered an amendment to ensure tribal sovereignty to prohibit or restrict the cultivation of genetically engineered plants on tribal lands.

It failed 196 to 227.

175 Democrats and 21 Republicans voted for it. 219 Republicans and 8 Democrats voted against it.

Here are those 8 Democrats:

Brad Ashford (NE-02)
Sanford Bishop (GA-02)
Jim Costa (CA-16)
John Garamendi (CA-03)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
David Scott (GA-13)
Terri Sewell (AL-07)
Tim Walz (MN-01)

Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) offered an amendment to prohibit the use of the term "natural" on food when a food consists of a genetically engineered plant.

It failed 163 to 262.

153 Democrats and 10 Republicans voted for it. 232 Republicans and 30 Democrats voted against it.

Here are those 30 Democrats:

Ami Bera (CA-07)
Sanford Bishop (GA-02)
G. K. Butterfield (NC-01)
Kathy Castor (FL-14)
Jim Clyburn (SC-06)
Jim Cooper (TN-05)
Joe Crowley (NY-14)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Ted Deutch (FL01)
Bill Foster (IL-11)
Lois Frankel (FL-22)
Gwen Graham (FL-02)
Alcee Hastings (FL-20)
Ruben Hinojosa (TX-15)
Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-01)
Zoe Lofgren (CA-19)
Patrick Murphy (FL-18)
Scott Peters (CA-52)
David Price (NC-04)
Cedric Richmond (LA-02)
Kurt Schrader (OR-05)
David Scott (GA-13)
Terri Sewell (AL-07)
Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09)
Mark Takano (CA-41)
Bennie Thompson (MS-02)
Marc Veasey (TX-33)
Filemon Vela (TX-34)
Tim Walz (MN-01)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23)

Here are the 10 Republicans:

Mo Brooks (AL-05)
Chris Gibson (NY-19)
Bill Huizenga (MI-02)
Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02)
Barry Loudermilk (GA-11)
Bruce Poliquin (ME-02)
Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48)
Mark Sanford (SC-01)
Chris Smith (NJ-04)
Lee Zeldin (NY-01)

After the bill passed, Jared Polis (CO-02) offered an amendment  to change the title of the bill to read "A bill to enact the 'Deny Americans the Right to Know Act' or the 'DARK Act.'

It failed 87 to 337.

86 Democrats and 1 Republican--Tom Massie (KY-04)--voted for it. 241 Republicans and 96 Democrats voted against it.

Here are the 86 Democrats that voted for it:

Pete Aguilar (CA-31)
Karen Bass (CA-37)
Xavier Becerra (CA-34)
Earl Blumenauer (OR-03)
Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01)
Brendan Boyle (PA-13)
Lois Capps (CA-24)
Tony Cárdenas (CA-29)
Andre Carson (IN-07)
Matt Cartwright (PA-17)
Judy Chu (CA-27)
David Cicilline (RI-01)
Katherine Clark (MA-05)
Yvette Clarke (NY-09)
Lacy Clay (MO-01)
Gerry Connolly (VA-11)
John Conyers (MI-13)
Elijah Cummings (MD-07)
Pete DeFazio (OR-04)
Diana DeGette (CO-01)
John Delaney (MD-06)
Rosa DeLauro (CT-03)
Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11)
Ted Deutch (FL-21)
Donna Edwards (MD-04)
Keith Ellison (MN-05)
Chaka Fattah (PA-02)
Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02)
Ruben Gallego (AZ-07)
Alan Grayson (FL-09)
Raul Grijalva (AZ-03)
Luis Gutiérrez (IL-04)
Janice Hahn (CA-44)
Brian Higgins (NY-26)
Mike Honda (CA-17)
Jared Huffman (CA-02)
Hank Johnson (GA-04)
Eddie Johnson (TX-30)
Joe Kennedy (MA-04)
Annie Kuster (NH-02)
Barbara Lee (CA-13)
Sandy Levin (MI-09)
John Lewis (GA-05)
Ted Lieu (CA-33)
Zoe Lofgren (CA-19)
Alan Lowenthal (CA-47)
Carolyn Maloney (NY-12)
Jim McDermott (WA-07)
Jim McGovern (MA-02)
Jerry McNerney (CA-09)
Grace Meng (NY-06)
Gwen Moore (WI-04)
Seth Moulton (MA-06)
Patrick Murphy (FL-18)
Jerry Nadler (NY-10)
Rick Nolan (MN-08)
Beto O’Rourke (TX-16)
Donald Payne (NJ-10)
Nancy Pelosi (CA-12)
Ed Perlmutter (CO-07)
Chellie Pingree (ME-01)
Jared Polis (CO-02)
Charlie Rangel (NY-13)
Kathleen Rice (NY-04)
Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40)
Tim Ryan (OH-13)
Linda Sánchez (CA-38)
Loretta Sanchez (CA-46)
Adam Schiff (CA-28)
Jose Serrano (NY-15)
Brad Sherman (CA-30)
Louise Slaughter (NY-25)
Adam Smith (WA-09)
Jackie Speier (CA-14)
Eric Swalwell (CA-15)
Mark Takai (HI-01)
Dina Titus (NV-01)
Paul Tonko (NY-20)
Norma Torres (CA-35)
Niki Tsongas (MA-03)
Chris Van Hollen (MD-08)
Nydia Velázquez (NY-07)
Pete Visclosky (IN-01)
Maxine Waters (CA-43)
Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12)
Pete Welch (VT-AL)

There are some strange votes in there.

Lacy Clay and Eddie B. Johnson voted for the bill and then voted for Polis’s amendment.

John Delaney voted against DeFazio’s amendment but then for Polis’s amendment.

Ted Deutch and Patrick Murphy voted against both DeFazio’s and DeLauro’s amendments but then for Polis’s amendment.

Zoe Lofgren voted against DeLauro’s amendment but then for Polis’s amendment.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Which 19 Dems Voted to Weaken the EPA's Already Weak Coal Ash Regulations?

Today, the House voted to pass the Improving Coal Combustion Residuals Regulation Act of 2015.
Did it seek to improve the regulation of coal combustion residuals, more commonly known as coal ash? Of course not.

The bill, as one can easily guess, was about weakening regulations--in this case, targeting the already weak coal ash regulations the EPA issued back in December.

What would the bill do specifically?
H.R. 1734 would replace the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) December 2014 rule on coal combustion waste (coal ash) and would legislate an option for its disposal that was not proposed by EPA.
The bill replaces the requirements of the rule by creating a state-based permit program for the disposal of waste generated from coal combustion.
H.R. 1734 also limits the authority of the EPA to issue regulations or enforce standards regarding coal combustion waste to ensure that local communities and waterways are protected from coal ash spills, unless states fail to implement their own permit program. There are also several requirements for the disposal of coal ash contained in the EPA’s final rule that would be eliminated by this measure including: restriction on the location of coal ash disposal sites, requirements that coal ash disposal sites be lined to prevent leaks of the material, and closure requirements for deficient disposal sites.
The bill passed 258 to 166.

239 Republicans and 19 Democrats voted for it. 165 Democrats and 1 Republican voted against it.
That one Republican was Bruce Poliquin (ME-02).

Here are the 19 Democrats:

Brad Ashford (NE-02)
Joyce Beatty (OH-03)
Sanford Bishop (GA-02)
Cheri Bustos (IL-17)
Lacy Clay (MO-01)
Jim Costa (CA-16)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Mike Doyle (PA-14)
Marcia Fudge (OH-11)
Gwen Graham (FL-02)
Gene Green (TX-29)
Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-01)
Gwen Moore (WI-04)
Ed Perlmutter (CO-07)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
Kurt Schrader (OR-05)
Bennie Thompson (MS-02)
Pete Visclosky (IN-01)
Tim Walz (MN-01)

Frank Pallone (NJ-06) offered an amendment to preserve transparency requirements in EPA's final coal ash rule to ensure public access to information and accountability.

It failed 177 to 244.

4 Democrats joined the GOP in voting against it:

Sanford Bishop (GA-02)
Jim Costa (CA-16)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)

Gerry Connolly (VA-11) offered an amendment to require all inactive surface impoundments to follow post-closure groundwater monitoring standards pursuant to section 257.104 subsections (b) and (c) of title 40, Code of Federal Regulations.

It failed 177 to 245.

5 Democrats joined the GOP in voting against it:

Sanford Bishop (GA-02)
Jim Costa (CA-16)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09)

Alma Adams (NC-12) offered an amendment to require the owner/operator of a coal combustion residuals surface impoundment (a) to survey all drinking water supply wells that are within a half mile and down-gradient of the established waste boundary and (b) to supply an alternative source of safe drinking water within 24 hours if well water sampling exceeds groundwater standards.

It failed 192 to 231.

13 Republicans joined Democrats in voting for it:

Ryan Costello (PA-06)
Carlos Curbelo (FL-26)
Charlie Dent (PA-05)
Bob Dold (IL-15)
Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08)
Chris Gibson (NY-19)
Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03)
Walter Jones (NC-03)
Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02)
Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05)
Pat Meehan (PA-07)
Mark Sanford (SC-01)
Ryan Zinke (MT-AL)

And 3 Democrats joined Republicans in voting against it:

Jim Costa (CA-16)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09)

G. K. Butterfield (NC-01) offered an amendment to allow the director of the EPA to prevent the legislation from going into effect if it is determined to have a negative impact on vulnerable populations (“infants, children, adolescents, pregnant women, the elderly, individuals with preexisting medical conditions, individuals who work at coal combustion residuals treatment or disposal facilities, members of any other appropriate population identified by the Administrator based on consideration of socioeconomic status, racial or ethnic background, or other similar factors identified by the Administrator”).

It failed 180 to 240.

One Republican—Ryan Katko (NY-24)—joined Democrats in voting for it.

Two Democrats—Brad Ashford (NE-02) and Collin Peterson (MN-07)—joined Republicans in voting against it.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The GOP Just Took Its Latest Vote to Weaken Environmental Regulations. Which 5 Dems Joined?

Yesterday, the House passed the Western Water and American Food Security Act, a Republican bill aimed at the California drought.

"Let me guess. This bill just ends up weakening environmental regulations," you might say. And you'd be right.

Here is what the bill would do:
The bill modifies the current water allocation practices intended to increase the availability of water to farmers and communities in California’s drought-stricken Central Valley.

While the bill allocates water for agricultural purposes, it changes protections in the Endangered Species Act that currently protect non-endangered species.  H.R. 2898 calls for the redistribution of limited water supplies to large industrial farming operations in Central and Southern California, which could impact the West Coast salmon fishery.
H.R. 2898 would make changes to the Water Supply Permitting Act by creating a permitting office run by the Bureau of Reclamation to streamline the process for the construction of expanded surface water storage, while weakening the environmental review process. Under current law, the environmental impacts of projects funded with federal dollars must be fully analyzed, including requiring that other financial and environmentally feasible alternatives are reviewed.
Lastly, H.R. 2898 would supersede state law by elevating the water rights for certain agricultural contactors over existing water rights that benefit refuges and wildlife areas.
As you can also see, Republicans only care about "states' rights" when doing so advances other goals. The bill passed 245 to 176.

One Republican voted against it: Jim Sensenbrenner (WI-05).

And five Democrats broke ranks to support it:

Brad Ashford (NE-02)
Jim Costa (CA-16)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02)
David Scott (GA-13)

Before taking the final vote, the House defeated two Democratic amendments.

John Garamendi (CA-03) offered an amendment to insert the language "collaborate with the California Department of Water Resources to install a fish screen at the Delta Cross Channel Gates in coordination with operations to protect migrating smelt and salmonids."

It failed 182 to 236.

Two Republicans joined Democrats in voting for it: Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08) and Richard Hanna (NY-22).

Raul Grijalva (AZ-03) offered an amendment  to fund water reclamation programs and water reuse projects so that the Bureau of Reclamation may investigate more opportunities to reclaim and reuse wastewater and naturally impaired ground and surface water in the 17 Western states and Hawaii.

It failed 179 to 242.

One Republican--Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08)--joined Democrats in voting for it.

Four Democrats joined the GOP in voting against it:

Brad Ashford (NE-02)
Jim Costa (CA-16)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-02)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

What Does the Head of the DSCC Have against Climate Change Education?

This week, the Senate has been voting on amendments to the re-authorization of No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

On Wednesday, Ed Markey (D-MA) offered an amendment to establish the Climate Change Education Act. The act would institute a competitive grant program aimed at developing and improving educational material and teacher training on the topic of climate change.

The head of the National Center for Science Education strongly supported the amendment:
But the Climate Change Education Act is simply splendid. It puts the federal government's money where its mouth is — and where, in a time when the effects of human-induced climate change are becoming more visible and more disruptive, it ought to be.
The Senate, however, was not quite so supportive. The amendment failed 44 to 53, on a mainly party line vote. 
 
There were a few exceptions, of course.

Two Republicans--Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Mark Kirk (R-IL)--joined Democrats in voting for it.
Three Democrats--Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Jon Tester (D-MT)--joined Republicans in voting against it.

I flagged Jon Tester in the title because he is the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. And for the head of the party's campaign committee to vote against this is just shameful.
A few other amendments that failed over the past few days are worthy of note.

Al Franken (D-MN) had an amendment to prohibit discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity in public schools.

It failed 52 to 45, eight votes shy of the 60-vote threshold required here.

Seven Republicans joined Democrats in voting for it:

Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)
Susan Collins (R-ME)
Dean Heller (R-NV)
Ron Johnson (R-WI)
Mark Kirk (R-IL)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Rob Portman (R-OH)

Tim Scott (R-SC) had an amendment to turn Title I funding into a voucher program.

It failed 45 to 51.

Roy Blunt (R-MO)
Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)
Susan Collins (R-ME)
Deb Fischer (R-NE)
Mark Kirk (R-IL)
Jerry Moran (R-KS)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

Cory Booker (D-NJ0 offered an amendment to require a State's report card to include information on the graduation rates of homeless children and children in foster care.

It failed 56 to 40, four votes shy of the 60-vote threshold required here.

12 Republicans joined Democrats in voting for it:

Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)
Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)
Susan Collins (R-ME)
Cory Gardner (R-CO)
Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Dean Heller (R-NV)
Jim Inhofe (R-OK)
Mark Kirk (R-IL)
Jim Lankford (R-OK)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Rob Portman (R-OH)

Monday, July 13, 2015

Sanders, Warren, Brown, Hirono & 68 House Dems to Obama: Expand Social Security

Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and John Conyers (MI-13) led a group of 72 members of the Congressional Democratic Caucus in a letter to President Obama calling on him to make expanding Social Security a top White House priority at the White House Conference on Aging, which begins today.

The letter details the current precarious situation for current and future retirees and the wide public support for expanding Social Security. It concludes, "As Social Security is affordable, universal, efficient, secure, portable, distributionally fair, and popular, expanding its modest benefits should be the number one retirement security recommendation of the White House Conference on Aging."

Here is the full text of the letter:
Dear President Obama, This August marks 80 years since the creation of Social Security, a program that has enabled tens of millions of Americans to realize the dream of retirement. We greatly appreciate your support for the program and your broader efforts to promote financial security.

We write today to request your help in ensuring that Americans continue to have sufficient resources to maintain their standard of living in old age. As employers continue moving from a defined benefit model to a defined contribution model of retirement savings, it is critical that we fight to protect and expand Social Security—the only guaranteed source of income in retirement. Today, two-thirds of retirees depend on social security for the majority of their income. More than half (53 percent) of today’s working Americans are not expected to have sufficient resources upon retirement to maintain their standard of living.

We believe that the decennial White House Conference on Aging, taking place on July 13, presents an excellent opportunity to open a discussion on expanding Social Security benefits. A clear majority of Americans support expanding Social Security. According to a 2014 survey, 79 percent of likely voters support “increasing Social Security benefits.” This support crosses party lines: 90 percent of Democrats, 73 percent of Independents, and 73 percent of Republicans favor expanding Social Security.

Given the state of popular opinion and the impending retirement savings crisis facing the nation, we respectfully urge you to include proposals to expand Social Security benefits for millions of Americans to your policy brief at the upcoming Conference. As Social Security is affordable, universal, efficient, secure, portable, distributionally fair, and popular, expanding its modest benefits should be the number one retirement security recommendation of the White House Conference on Aging. We look forward to working with you to accomplish this as part of the longstanding mission guaranteeing universal retirement security.
The group of 72 consists of 4 senators, 66 representatives, and two delegates (non-voting representatives). 
 
The three senators to sign on, besides Sanders, were Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

Here are the 68 House Democrats:

Raul Grijalva (AZ-03)
Jerry McNerney (CA-09)
Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11)
Barbara Lee (CA-13)
Mike Honda (CA-17)
Zoe Lofgren (CA-19)
Sam Farr (CA-20)
Judy Chu (CA-27)
Tony Cardenas (CA-29)
Grace Napolitano (CA-32)
Ted Lieu (CA-33)
Norma Torres (CA-35)
Linda Sanchez (CA-38)
Mark Takano (CA-41)
Maxine Waters (CA-43)
Janice Hahn (CA-44)
Juan Vargas (CA-51)
John Larson (CT-01)
Rosa DeLauro (CT-03)
Elizabeth Esty (CT-05)
Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL)
Corrine Brown (FL-05)
Alan Grayson (FL-09)
Alcee Hastings (FL-20)
Ted Deutch (FL-21)
Lois Frankel (FL-22)
Frederica Wilson (FL-24)
Hank Johnson (GA-04)
John Lewis (GA-05)
Mark Takai (HI-01)
Luis Gutierrez (IL-04)
Jan Schakowsky (IL-09)
Andre Carson (IN-07)
John Yarmuth (KY-03)
Jim McGovern (MA-02)
Katherine Clark (MA-05)
Mike Capuano (MA-07)
Bill Keating (MA-09)
Donna Edwards (MD-04)
Elijah Cummings (MD-07)
Chris Van Hollen (MD-08)
Daniel Kildee (MI-05)
Debbie Dingell (MI-12)
John Conyers (MI-13)
Brenda Lawrence (MI-14)
Keith Ellison (MN-05)
Rick Nolan (MN-08)
Albio Sires (NJ-08)
Donald Payne (NJ-10)
Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12)
Gregory Meeks (NY-05)
Jerry Nadler (NY-10)
Jose Serrano (NY-15)
Paul Tonko (NY-20)
Joyce Beatty (OH-03)
Marcy Kaptur (OH-09)
Bob Brady (PA-01)
Chaka Fattah (PA-02)
Brendan Boyle (PA-13)
Mike Doyle (PA-14)
Matt Cartwright (PA-17)
David Cicilline (RI-01)
Steve Cohen (TN-09)
Bobby Scott (VA-03)
Stacey Plaskett (Virgin Islands)
Jim McDermott (WA-07)
Mark Pocan (WI-02)
Gwen Moore (WI-04)