Cap Non-Defense Spending?

Shall the deficit be reduced by capping discretionary spending not related to national security?

On March 18, 2010, the Senate voted on amendment 3549 offered by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) to H.R. 1586. The amendment would have frozen discretionary spending at 2008 levels. On Sen. Inhofe’s motion to waive the restrictions of the 1974 Budget Act and allow a vote on his amendment, the Senate voted no, 41-56.

Pro: Sen. Inhofe Con: Sen. Inouye
"This bill . . . is a proposal that would freeze discretionary spending at the 2008 level. . . . President Obama and some of the Democrats had proposed that they would freeze the nonsecurity discretionary spending at 2010 levels. The problem I have with that is, this is after it has already been increased by 20 percent . . . . It is the same language that is in the Obama proposal, but I am taking it back to 2008. This would have the effect over a period of time, over a 10-year budget cycle, of reducing the amount by about . . . $900-some billion." "If we cut discretionary spending without reaching an agreement on mandatory spending and taxes we will find it very hard to get those who do not want to address revenues to compromise. . . .

"If we adopt the Inhofe caps we will have to effectively eliminate the President’s agenda for discretionary spending –education, green jobs, homeland security. And this amendment would keep the spending caps in place for ten years. With one amendment, we would actually be tying the hands of the next administration as well."

  • For the full debate, go to: Link to March 18, S1717, S1721
  • How Did Your Senators Vote? Roll Call #59 on Congressional Record page S1722.

 Amend Obama's Health Care Bill on Student Loans?

Shall the Senate adopt the House amendments to President Obama’s health care bill, and also make the Federal government rather than private lenders the provider of student loans?

On March 25, 2010, the Senate voted on whether to amend the health care bill (passed by the Senate in 2009) to make the changes demanded by the House of Representatives. This was the final step in the House-Senate deal to make the health care bill law. The bill also put the Federal government in the business of directly providing student loans, eliminating the previous system of working through private lenders. The Senate approved the bill (HR 4872), 56-43.

Pro: (in favor of health care reform) Sen. Byrd Con: (against health care reform) Sen. Gregg
"While this bill as passed may not satisfy the individual concerns of each and every constituent or member of Congress, it does begin to satisfy the growing needs of millions of Americans who find themselves without access to the medical services and attention they need. Access to proper health care for every American citizen should not only be held as a necessity, it should be considered the commensurate right of any and every citizen of the mightiest and most advanced Nation the world has ever known." "This bill has a lot of major problems, the big bill that passed the House. Now we get this trailer bill, this buy-it bill, which was used for purposes of getting votes in the House. This bill aggravates the fundamental problems of the bigger bill the President signed today. This bill adds more costs, creates more taxes, and will reduce Medicare's viability in a more significant way. . . . thrown on this train was the nationalization of the student loan program, where 19 million students today are going to be forced into the process of getting their loans through the Federal Government instead of through their local banks, their community banks. When you look at this in that context, what this bill is about--and the President has been very forthright about this--it is a massive explosion in the size of the government, growing the government for one fundamental purpose: because this administration believes a bigger government creates prosperity."
  • For the full debate, go to: Link to March 23, S1821-1867
  • Link to March 24, S1923-2012
  • Link to March 25, S2069-2089
  • How Did Your Senators Vote? Roll Call #150 on Congressional Record page S2089

 Federal Bailouts?

Shall Federal bailouts of fiscally unsound state and local governments be prohibited?

On May 18, 2010, the Senate voted on Sen. Gregg’s amendment 4051 to S. 3217, which would have prohibited any Federal bailout of state or local governments which had defaulted or were in danger of defaulting on their bonds. The Senate voted no, 47-50.

Pro: (Opposed to bailouts) Sen. Gregg Con: (supporting bailouts) Sen. Dodd
"If we do not have this type of rule in play, basically we will be setting up a situation where the American people will become the guarantor of inappropriate actions across this country by legislators and city governments. You will have this untoward situation where you will basically create an atmosphere that there is an incentive for State governments and local communities to not be fiscally responsible." "The idea is ``one nation,'' and we are one nation. We are not Europe where we have separate political structures and separate rules and regulations and one currency which pose difficulties. We are one people here, whether you live in New Hampshire or Connecticut or Arizona or Alaska or Hawaii or Texas or Oklahoma. Wherever it is, we are one people."
  • For the full debate, go to: Link to May 18, S3856
  • How Did Your Senators Vote? Roll Call #153 on Congressional Record page S3862.

 Protect the Mexican Border?

Shall 6,000 National Guardsmen be sent to the Mexican border?

On May 27, 2010, the Senate voted on whether to consider Sen. McCain’s amendment 4214 to HR 4899, adding $250 million to finance the deployment of National Guardsmen to the Mexican border, and reducing by $250 million the funding of the Stimulus act. The motion was defeated, 51-46 (3/5 required, rather than a simple majority).

Pro: (in favor of sending the National Guard) Sen. McCain Con: (against sending the National Guard) Sen. Schumer
"During Operation Jump Start, the National Guard was deployed to the southwest border and provided logistical support, conducted surveillance, and built and repaired critical infrastructure. Until DHS has the technology and infrastructure in place to fully secure the border, at least 6,000 National Guard must be deployed to assist the Border Patrol in stopping the illegal immigration, drug smugglers, and human traffickers flowing across the border. . . . We have shown in San Diego, in Texas, even in the Yuma sector of Arizona that we can secure our border, but we need manpower, surveillance, and fences. We can do it. We have an obligation to our citizens to secure our border and allow them to lead lives where they do not live in fear of home invasions, of property being destroyed, where well-armed, well-equipped drug smugglers, as well as human smugglers, operate with--if not with impunity, certainly with great latitude." "it takes the money out of the stimulus bill. Well, there is a border problem in Texas and Arizona that affects all of us, and we want to solve it. The President and we are working to do that. But we have a jobs problem in this country, too, and this is the worst kind of robbing Peter to pay Paul. The stimulus money will go to creating jobs. If we ask the people in, say, Michigan or Ohio or Rhode Island or New York what is the No. 1 issue? Jobs. This money is being taken away from job creation and used, as I say, in a not effective, overmagnified way. It is too much money to stop what is going on at the border."
  • For the full debate, go to: Link to May 27, S4422, 4474
  • How Did Your Senators Vote? Roll Call #165 on Congressional Record page S4479

 Additional Border Security?

Shall funds be transferred from the stimulus bill to providing additional security along the Mexican border?

On May 27, 2010, the Senate voted on whether to consider the Cornyn amendment 4202 to HR 4899, which would shift $2.25 billion from the Stimulus act to protecting the Mexican border. The motion was defeated, 54-43 (3/5 required rather than a simple majority)

Pro: (in favor of transferring funds to border protection) Sen. Cornyn Con: (opposed to transferring funds to border protection) Sen. Schumer
"Yesterday the Department of Homeland Security told local law enforcement to keep their eyes peeled for a Somali man believed to be in Mexico for a period in order to make an illegal crossing into Texas. DHS believes this man has ties to an organization affiliated with al-Qaida. Maybe he will not come to Houston. Maybe he will go to some other city in this great country of ours. We simply don't know whether this individual or the 45,000 other-than-Mexican citizens who have immigrated illegally across our border represent a national security threat" "It takes that money out of the stimulus, the Recovery Act, taking it away from jobs. We must secure the border, absolutely. The President's plan is smart and focused"
  • For the full debate go to: Link S4479

  • How Did Your Senators Vote? Roll Call #167 on Congressional Record page S4480-81

 Limit Federal Spending?

Shall discretionary spending in the Federal budget be limited during the next three years?

On June 9, 2010, the Senate voted whether to consider the Sessions amendment 4303 to HR 4213, which would have established limits for discretionary spending for the next three fiscal years and more narrowly defined "emergency" spending. The motion was defeated, 57-41 (3/5 required rather than a simple majority).

Pro: (in favor of spending limits) Sen. McCaskill Con: (opposed to spending limits) Sen. Inouye
"Think about it for a minute. Everywhere in America, whether it is at a family's kitchen table or whether it is at a school board meeting or whether it is at a city council meeting or a county legislative body meeting or a State legislative budget hearing, everywhere in America they are having to trim their sails, cut their budgets, try to find a meaningful way to do more with less. And what are we doing here? We cannot agree to cap growth? Are you kidding me? We cannot even say to the American people, we are not going to grow by as much over the next 3 years?" "Cuts make for a great photo opportunity for appearing to reduce the deficit, but the consequences could be severe. The lack of direction is reckless. Important needs would go unmet. This amendment could result in cutting research funds for traumatic brain injury, worsening the shortage of air traffic controllers, cutting after-school centers and veterans employment programs, to name just a few"
  • For the full debate go to: Link S4637, S4719, S4729, S4734
  • How Did Your Senators Vote? Roll Call #181 on Congressional Record page S4735

 Block EPA CO2 Regulations?

Shall Congress block the attempt of the Environmental protection Agency (EPA) to regulate carbon dioxide emissions as a form of pollution?

On June 10, 2010, the Senate voted on whether to consider S. J. Res. 26, which would have overturned the Environmental Protections Agency’s attempt to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. The motion was defeated, 47-53.

Pro: (against the EPA regulation) Sen. Murkowski Con: (for the EPA regulation)
"This decision--where we are today here in the Senate debating this resolution of disapproval--ultimately boils down to four substantive factors. The first one is the inappropriateness of the Clean Air Act for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The second is the likelihood that the courts will strike down the tailoring rule. Then we also have the lack of economic analysis from the EPA, which is stunning--that we do not have a better sense in terms of what the economic impact of these regulations will be. Then finally and certainly above all else is the undisputed fact that climate policy should be written here in Congress. It is not just Lisa Murkowski who says that, and it is not just the other 40 Senators who have signed on as cosponsors to this resolution of disapproval; it is everyone from the President, to the Administrator of the EPA, to colleagues on the House side who have said time and time again that it should be the Congress, it should be those of us who are elected Members of this body who set the policy of this country and not the unelected bureaucrats within an agency." "Our hearts break every day that we look at what is happening in the Gulf. It seems to me more than ironic that Senator Murkowski is advocating repealing the scientific finding that too much carbon pollution in the air is dangerous, at the same time every American sees graphic evidence on television every single day of the deadly carbon pollution in the Gulf of Mexico."
  • For the full debate go to: Link S4789
  • How Did Your Senators Vote? Roll Call #184 on Congressional Record page S4836

 Repeal Obama Health Care Law Regulations?

Shall the Senate vote on repealing the portion of the Obama health care law which places a heavy paperwork burden on businesses and nonprofit organizations?

On September 14, 2010, the Senate voted on whether to end debate and move to a vote on Sen. Johann’s amendment 4596 to H.R. 5297, which would have repealed that portion of the health care bill that requires reporting to the IRS (using IRS Form 1099) all purchases from any corporation that total $600 or more per year. The Senate refused to allow the amendment to come to a vote, 46-52 (60 votes required).

Pro: (in favor of allowing a vote on the amendment) Sen. Johanns Con: (against allowing a vote on the amendment) Sen. Bill Nelson
"Our small business owners, our medium-sized business owners, and our large business owners are frustrated with nice speeches that are followed by strangling regulation, new taxes, and really absurd paperwork mandates. Small businesses want to expand, they want to hire workers, and they want more customers. They do not like going to a long-term employee and saying: I have to lay you off. I have had employers talk to me about that literally with tears in their eyes. Yet this tax paperwork mandate--hidden in the health care law, of all things, in section 9006, page 700-something--requires businesses to file a mountain of additional 1099 tax forms." "The Senator from Nebraska wants to eliminate all of the new information reporting rules. That is a salutary result. But how does he propose to do it? He has to come up with a way to pay for it. The underlying law raises about $17 billion, so he has to come up with a pay-for if he is going to repeal it. Where does he get it? He basically goes directly at the health care bill, the reform bill, and he starts to gut the health care reform bill."
  • For the full debate, go to: S7052
  • How Did Your Senators Vote? Roll Call #231 on Congressional Record page S7062

 Approve Elena Kagan?

Should the Senate approve the nomination of Elena Kagan to the United States Supreme Court?

On August 5, 2010, the Senate voted on the nomination of Elena Kagan to be as associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. The nomination was approved, 63-37.

Pro: (in favor of approving Kagan) Sen. Leahy Con: (opposed to approving Kagan) Sen. McConnell
"Justices ought to understand how their decisions affect real American. In the hard cases that come before the Supreme Court, in the real world, we want and need Justices who have the good sense to appreciate the real world ramifications of their decisions." "Ms. Kagan’s background as a political operative, her lengthy resume of zealous advocacy for political and ideological cause, often at the expense of the law and those whose views differ from her own, her attachment to the President and his political and ideological goals, including his belief in the extraconstitutional notion that judges should favor some over others, makes her precisely the kind of nominee, in my view, the Founders were concerned about and that Senators should have reason to oppose."
  • For the full debate, go to: S6756, S6803
  • How Did Your Senators Vote? Roll Call #229 on Congressional Record page S6830

 Homosexuals in the Military?

Shall the Senate consider the Defense authorization act in order to enact repeal of the prohibition on homosexuals in the military and to enact a partial amnesty for illegal aliens?

On September 21, 2010, the Senate voted on whether to take up a bill which was expected to include one provision allowing open homosexuals to serve in the armed forces, and another which would have granted amnesty to some illegal aliens. The motion was defeated, 56-43 (60 votes required).

Pro: (in favor of considering the bill) Sen. Lieberman Con: (against considering the bill) Sen. McConnell
"There are two things I know and believe . . . . One is we have to proceed to consider the National Defense Authorization Act . . . because our military needs it. . . . Second – and this is a controversial part, of course – I believe we have to repeal don’t ask, don’t tell . . . .

"The Defense authorization bill requires 4 or 5 weeks to debate. But instead of having that debate or turning to the Defense appropriations bill, which funds the military, they want to use this week for a political exercise. They want to weigh this bill down with controversy in a transparent attempt to show their special interest groups ahead of the election that they haven't forgotten them."

  • For the full debate, go to: S7158, S7193, S7229
  • How Did Your Senators Vote? Roll Call #238 on Congressional Record page S7246

"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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