Help End Duplicative Programs?

Shall the Senate require the Congressional Research Service to assist in avoiding the creation of duplicative programs?

On February 2, 2012, the Senate voted 60-39 (two thirds required for passage) on an amendment by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) to require the Congressional Research Service to provide a warning whenever a proposed new program would duplicate the work of an existing program. Because the amendment was brought up in circumstances requiring a 2/3 vote, it failed to pass.

Pro: Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) Con: Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT)
“In the next few weeks, the GAO will release a report showing the extent of the wasteful and duplicative programs in the federal government. It shows that too often Congress focuses on creating new programs and regulations while neglecting our important role of overseeing and reforming existing laws.

Our amendment would require that any new bill that is reported from committee contain an analysis from the Congressional Research Service determining if the bill creates any new federal program, office, or initiative that would overlap existing programs.”

“The committees of jurisdiction ought to be making their own judgment and probably know better than CRS whether they are creating a new program that duplicates or overlaps an existing one. “

 Exceptions to Mandatory ObamaCare Contraception Coverage?

Shall the Senate refuse to consider an amendment to grant an exemption to any employer with a religious objection to the mandatory contraception coverage of ObamaCare?

On March 1, 2012, the Senate voted 51-48 to table (i.e. not vote on) the Blunt Amendment #1520 to S. 1813. The amendment would have provided an exemption to the mandatory contraception coverage of ObamaCare for any employer with a religious objection to the coverage. A “no” vote (against tabling) was a vote in favor of the amendment.

Pro: (i.e. against the amendment): Sen. Michael Bennett (D-CO) Con: (i.e. supporting the amendment): Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO)
“In my home State of Colorado, I have held hundreds of townhall meetings in red parts of the State and blue parts of the State, and I do not remember a single time this issue—the issue that is of concern with this amendment—has been raised by anybody—by anybody— in 3 years. . . . I have a wife and three daughters—12, 11, and 7. There are a lot of women in my life telling me what to do every minute of every day and during the week, and thank goodness for that.

One thing I know is they do not need to be told by the government how to make their own health care decisions—nor do the 362,000 Colorado women who would be affected immediately if this amendment passed. . . . I urge my colleagues to support the rights of women all across this country and their families and reject this amendment.”

“The reason this amendment is being debated right now is because the administration issued an order that is unprecedented. . . They say: We exempted the church itself, as if the work of the church or the character of the church or the faith distinctives of the church, the synagogue, the mosque are only what happens inside that building.

There is a reason we have so much of our health care, our social services provided by faith-based institutions, and one of the reasons is those faith-based institutions want those institutions—
that they fund, they support, they encourage—to reflect their faith principles. . . .

My good friend, Senator Bennet from Colorado, said if this amendment passed, 362,000 Colorado women would lose their current health care services. Why would that be the case at all? This amendment does nothing to modify State or Federal laws that are now in effect. If you have those services now, there is nothing in this amendment that would change the world we live in right now.”

 Build the Keystone Pipeline?

Shall the Senate approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline?

On March 8, 2012, the Senate voted 56-42 (60 favorable votes required) on the Hoeven amendment 1537 to S. 1813, approving construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The amendment failed, not having received the necessary 60 votes.

Pro: Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) Con: Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
“The Department of Energy for this administration did a study in June of last year. In that study, they said the oil will be used in this country, and it will--not ``may'' but ``will''--lower gas prices on the east coast, the gulf coast, and in the Midwest. I had Secretary Chu in front of me at one of our hearings, and he acknowledged that, in fact, that is what the Department of Energy of this administration provided--that the product will be used here, that we are going to need more crude, and it will lower gas prices. . . .

Do we go ahead and get oil from our closest friends and trading partner, Canada, or say no to them and have them send it to China? Do we reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil and reduce the price of gas for hard-working American consumers? How about national security? Would you rather rely on oil from the Middle East or from Canada?

Would you rather have oil produced here, in North Dakota, Montana, and in Canada, or would you rather get it from the Middle East?”

“I also wish to express my strong opposition to Senator Hoeven's Keystone XL amendment, which is nothing more than a rubberstamp for a project that poses serious risks to our environment and public safety.

The Keystone XL Pipeline will be one of the largest pipelines outside of Russia and China. It will be 1,700 miles long, cut through six States, and carry nearly 1 million barrels of tar sands oil each day. Make no mistake, the Keystone Pipeline is not ready for approval. The fact is, the people have a right to know the facts about projects like this. This is one of the reasons I wrote the Pipeline Safety Act, which President Obama signed into law in January.

This law requires the Transportation Secretary to determine whether we need better rules for the movement of tar sands oil, which is thicker and more corrosive than conventional oil.”

"If once (the People) become inattentive to the public affairs... I, and Congress, and Assemblies, Judges and Governors shall all become wolves." Thomas Jefferson

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