|Recent Senate Votes|
|Small Business Tax Cut Motion to Table – Vote Agreed to (73-24, 3 Not Voting)
Taxes moved to the center of Washington political debate on July 9, when President Obama announced his support for extending the Bush tax cuts on the first $250,000 of household income for one additional year. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R.-Ky. sparred over the question of voting on the presidents proposal and on a one-year extension of the tax cuts for all income, which is Republicans preference. Ultimately no such votes were held. Instead the Senate proceeded to consideration of a small business tax cut bill, holding three votes in all. The first vote was a motion to table an amendment introduced by Reid. The amendment contained the text of a House-passed bill (H.R. 9, Roll Call 177) introduced by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., which would allow a 20 percent deduction on taxable income for businesses with fewer than 500 employees. Max Baucus, D-Mont. moved to table (set aside) the amendment, and the motion was agreed to.
Small Business Tax Cut Cloture – Vote Rejected (57-41, 2 Not Voting)
The next vote in this series was a cloture motion on a substitute amendment offered by Mary Landrieu, D-La. The Landrieu amendment would extend a number of tax benefits, including 100 percent expensing for equipment purchases, higher deductions for start-up costs, and elimination of capital gains taxes for certain small business stock. The motion fell three votes short, as 60 votes are needed to invoke cloture.
Small Business Tax Cut Cloture – Vote Rejected (53-44, 3 Not Voting)
The final vote was another cloture motion, this time on the underlying bill. The bill would give employers a tax deduction of 10 percent on payroll increases from 2011 to 2012, up to $5 million. It would also extend 100 percent expensing for equipment purchases for one year. The President expressed support for the measure, but it is unlikely to be taken up in the House.
|Recent House Votes|
|Veterans Licensing Suspension Vote – Vote Passed (369-0, 62 Not Voting)
The first of three suspension bills passed by the House last week would instruct the heads of federal agencies to recognize relevant training and skills acquired by veterans during their terms of service as meeting the requirements for federal licenses. The bill passed the House without a single nay vote and was cleared under unanimous consent two days later by the Senate. It is expected to be signed into law by President Obama. (Under suspension of the rules, a bill must receive two-thirds majority support for passage.)
ATM Fee Disclosure Suspension Vote – Vote Passed (371-0, 60 Not Voting)
The next suspension bill would lift a requirement that ATMs bear a physical display warning users that they may incur a fee if they are not account holders at the financial institution that owns the ATM. Current law allows class action suits against institutions whose ATMs do not bear a placard, which can lead to frivolous actions by individuals who tore off the signs and then sued.
Hydropower Generation Suspension Vote – Vote Passed (372-0, 59 Not Voting)
Last weeks final suspension concerned the regulatory process for small hydropower facilities. The bill would exempt facilities that generate up to 10,000 kilowatts of electricity from permitting by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). It would mandate an expedited review of permit requests by FERC and would also allow FERC to extend preliminary permits for up to two years. A similar bill (S. 629) was introduced in the Senate by Lisa Murkowski, R- Alaska and reported out of the Energy and Natural Resources in May 2011.
Health Care Overhaul Repeal – Vote Passed (244-185, 2 Not Voting)
In light of the Supreme Courts largely upholding President Obamas signature health care overhaul, House Republican leaders had pledged to hold another vote to repeal it. Last week, they made good on that promise. This was the second vote in this Congress to repeal the law in its entirety (much was made during floor debate that H.R. 6079 represented the 33rd repeal vote, as there have been numerous bills to repeal individual sections of the bill). Five Democrats voted for repeal Dan Boren of Oklahoma, Mike Ross of Arkansas, Jim Matheson of Utah, and Larry Kissell and Mike McIntyre of North Carolina. Boren, Ross and McIntyre voted for repeal the first time, while Matheson and Kissell did not. Democrats offered a motion to recommit that would make any Member who voted to repeal the bill ineligible to receive the congressional health care package (Roll Call Number 459). The motion was rejected, largely along party lines. President Obama threatened a veto of the bill, though it will not be brought up in the Senate.
Mining Project Permitting and Review – Vote Passed (256-160, 15 Not Voting)
Following health care, the House moved on to a bill that would expedite the federal permitting and review process for mining of critical minerals. The bill defines strategic and critical minerals and then classifies all operations to extract those minerals as infrastructure projects in order to utilize a March 2012 executive order streamlining the permitting process for projects so defined. The bill also defines the process by which governing federal agencies should proceed in reviewing covered projects. Judicial review of challenges to covered projects would be prohibited after 60 days. President Obama issued an official statement criticizing the measure as providing far too broad a definition of critical minerals and for prioritizing mineral extraction on public lands over other uses such as hunting and grazing, charges echoed by congressional Democrats. The bills preamble outlines the importance of mineral production to national security and the economy.
| Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections Act of 2012 – S.3369
The Senate is expected to hold a cloture vote on the motion to proceed to a campaign finance bill known as the DISCLOSE Act, which would require disclosure of campaign spending by entities such as unions and corporations above $10,000.
This measure would set policy and authorize spending levels for the State Department and related agencies such as the Peace Corps and USAID.
This bill would require the Secretary of State to report to Congress within 30 days whether the Haqqani network meets the criteria for designation as a terrorist group, and if not, why not.
This bill would extend certain measures regarding military assistance to Israel.
Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012 – H.R.5872
This bill would require a report from the President regarding the spending cuts required by last years Budget Control Act, referred to in congressional parlance as sequestration.
Coming up under an open rule, this measure will set FY 2013 spending levels for the Pentagon.
July 20, 2012
Bennet, Udall, and Perlmutter Watch 7-16-12: Recent Votes