|Recent Senate Votes|
|Sportsmens Access to Federal Land Motion to Waive – Vote Rejected (50-44, 6 Not Voting)
Sen. Jon Testers bill to increase sportsmens access to federal lands hit a snag over budgetary rules last week. Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., raised a point of order that a provision of the bill to raise duck stamp fees violated budgetary caps agreed to in last years debt ceiling deal. Democrats attempted to waive the budget rules but failed to muster the necessary 60 votes. Duck stamp is the nickname for a federal license to hunt migratory birds whose proceeds are directed toward wetlands conservation. Congress had enacted all previous fee increases, but the bill would move that authority to the Interior Department, which was also a sore point among Republicans on top of the budget issue. Testers wide-ranging bill, which had garnered support from a large coalition of outside groups including the National Rifle Association and Nature Conservancy, had looked like a safe bet for easy passage, as it had cleared several earlier procedural hurdles with no less than 84 votes. The prospects for the bill are uncertain at this point: Democrats could attempt to attach it to another bill, such as the defense authorization or whatever agreement (if any) emerges from fiscal cliff talks.
Disability Treaty Motion to Proceed – Vote Agreed to (61-36, 3 Not Voting)
The Senate agreed to proceed to consideration of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a United Nations treaty meant to outline the rights of disabled individuals and create a framework for implementing plans to protect those rights. The treaty contains language outlining the general obligations of signatory nations vis a vis their disabled citizens as well as sections on issues ranging from independent living to human dignity. There is currently an agreement in place to vote on ratification of the treaty on Tuesday, December 4.
Defense Authorization Amendment – Vote Agreed to (94-0, 6 Not Voting)
After months of delay, the Senate began working through amendments to the annual defense authorization bill in earnest last week. A number of notable amendments passed on the floor, including this one from Sens. Menendez, D-N.J., Kirk, R-Ill., and Lieberman, I-Ct., which further tightens sanctions on Iran. Others include those offered by Sens. Feinstein, D-Calif. (clarifying that American citizens and permanent residents apprehended on U.S. soil may not be detained indefinitely or without trial Roll Call 213); Ayotte, R-N.H. (prohibiting transfer of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay RC 212); and Udall, D-Colo. (striking language forbidding the defense department from taking part in a pilot biofuels program – RC 206). Dozens of other amendments were considered, with most agreed to by unanimous consent. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., filed cloture on the bill Friday afternoon, lining up a cloture vote Monday evening, December 3. Though the bill looks to be on a path toward passage, its prospects have been complicated by a veto threat from President Obama. The Administration presented a long list of grievances in its policy statement, including objections to the bills language on detainees, Air National Guard force structure, and costs relating to TRICARE, the militarys health care program. The President has also issued a veto threat against the House version of the bill (H.R. 4310).
|Recent House Votes|
|STEM Visa Program Final Passage – Vote Passed (245-139, 48 Not Voting)
The House took another bite of the apple last week in attempting to create a visa program intended to allow foreign students who obtain advanced degrees in STEM fields from American universities to remain in the country. A previous attempt to pass the bill under suspension of the rules failed to garner the necessary two thirds for passage (Roll Call 590). This time the leadership opted to go through regular order, which meant only a simple majority was needed. Only a handful of Democrats voted for the measure, as the bulk of the caucus objected to the bills elimination of the diversity visa program, which employs a lottery to distribute up to 55,000 visas every year to individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. The bill would move the diversity visa slots into the new STEM visa program. The Senate will not take up the measure this year; it is seen instead as the House Republican majority laying down a marker for the type of immigration reform measure that could pass muster with their caucus.
| National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 – S.3254
The Senate will hold a cloture vote on the defense authorization on Monday, December 3, with a view toward final passage this week.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – TREATYDOC.112-7
The Senate will hold a ratification vote on Tuesday, December 4.
Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2012 – H.R.2838
The House will take up several measures under suspension of the rules, including a Coast Guard and maritime transportation reauthorization bill.
December 4, 2012
Bennet, Udall, and Perlmutter Watch 12-3-12: Recent Votes