|Recent Senate Votes|
|Temporary Suspension of Debt Limit Final Passage – Vote Passed (64-34, 2 Not Voting)
The federal debt limit will have no force or effect until May 19, thanks to Senate action last week to clear a House-passed measure for President Obamas signature. In addition to suspending the debt limit, the bill commits the Senate (and the House) to passing a budget resolution for the first time in four years, under pain of its members having their paychecks withheld. Before the bill could pass, Democrats had to table several Republican amendments from Rob Portman of Ohio, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Rand Paul of Kentucky and David Vitter of Louisiana (Roll Call Votes 6-10). Portman offered two amendments: the first would have require that any bill to raise the debt limit include non-interest spending cuts of an equal or greater amount; the second would have cut discretionary spending by one percent every three or four months if Congress does not agree to a budget resolution by October 1, 2013. Toomeys amendment would have prioritized certain accounts for receipt of payment in the event Congress did not raise the debt limit, placing debt interest, Social Security and military personnel at the front of the line. The Paul amendment would have banned the transfer of certain weapons systems such F-16 fighter jets to Egypt. The Vitter amendment would have introduced spending cuts to the bill. All but the Paul amendment, which had very little support, split the Senate exactly along party lines. Democrats rejected each amendment unanimously except the second Portman amendment, which attracted the support of Kay Hagan (N.C.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Jon Tester (Mont.).
Disaster Relief Final Passage – Vote Passed (62-36, 2 Not Voting)
Relief for the victims of Hurricane Sandy cleared Congress last week, almost exactly three months after the storm devastated coastal communities in New York and New Jersey. After defeating an amendment from Republican Mike Lee of Utah that would have offset the bills cost with a 0.49 percent across-the-board spending cut (Roll Call Number 3), the upper chamber just managed to clear the 60-vote threshold leadership had agreed to set for passage of the bill. All told, the package contains $50.5 billion, to be disbursed through programs in the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Health and Human Services, and Army Corps of Engineers, among others. All but $5.4 billion of this amount is designated as emergency spending, meaning it does not apply to discretionary budgetary caps set by the 2011 debt ceiling agreement.
Secretary of State Confirmation – Vote Confirmed (94-3, 1 Present, 2 Not Voting)
The senior Senator from Massachusetts, Democrat John Kerry, was confirmed as the 68th Secretary of State last week. Kerry received near-unanimous support from his colleagues, the only dissenters being Republicans John Cornyn and Ted Cruz of Texas and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma. Kerry officially took over from Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday, February 1.
| Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 – S.47
The Senate will begin debate on a reauthorization for the Violence Against Women Act, which stalled last year amidst disagreement between the House and Senate. This bill is virtually identical to the one the Senate passed last year and is co-sponsored by 59 senators in addition to Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont. A vote on the motion to proceed to the measure is scheduled for Monday, Feburary 4.
Require a PLAN Act – H.R.444
The House is expected to consider and pass a bill that would require the president to submit a FY 2014 budget that achieves balance within the documents 10-year timeframe. (The “PLAN” in the bills title stands for “Presidential Leadership and No Deficits.”)
February 5, 2013
Bennet and Udall Watch 2-4-13: Recent Votes