Conservative First

April 23, 2013

Bennet, Udall, and Perlmutter Watch 4-23-13: Recent Votes

From MegaVote at Congress.org:

Recent Senate Votes
Firearms Legislation – Concealed-Carry Reciprocity Amendment – Vote Rejected (57-43)

This proposal from Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas would allow someone with a permit to carry a concealed weapon the right to carry it in any state which has a concealed-carry law. The amendment states that permit holders from other states must abide by the laws of states in which they are located, though it would prohibit states from placing restrictions on individuals with out-of-state permits, treating such individuals as if they carried an “unrestricted” permit. The remainder of the failed amendments included proposals to reinstate and expand a ban on so-called assault weapons; to ban ammunition magazines holding more than ten rounds; and to prevent veterans from being deemed “mental defectives” – thus losing their ability to own firearms – without a court decision. Two amendments did pass muster. The first, offered by Wyoming Republican John Barrasso, would penalize states and localities for publicizing gun ownership data. The second, from HELP committee leaders Tom Harkin, D-Iowa and Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., would overhaul the nation’s mental health system. (Roll Calls 100-105)

Sen. Mark Udall voted YES
Sen. Michael Bennet voted NO


Firearms Legislation – Background Checks Amendment – Vote Rejected (54-46)

The Senate voted on a flurry of amendments to the first major legislative response to last December’s massacre in Newtown, CT. In a sign of the difficulty facing proponents of stronger gun laws, most of the amendments were defeated, beginning with a proposal by pro-gun senators Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. and Pat Toomey, R-Pa. to strengthen background checks. The Toomey-Manchin amendment would have expanded the current system to include all sales at gun shows and on the Internet. Though initially hailed as a critical breakthrough, the amendment’s prospects died a slow death in the days leading up to the actual vote, as fence-sitting senators from both parties declared their opposition one by one. Ultimately five Democrats opposed the amendment – Max Baucus of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. (Reid voted “no” for procedural reasons which would allow him to call up the amendment for a vote at a later date.) Baucus, Begich and Pryor all face difficult re-elections next year in states that favored Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential contest. Four Republicans supported the amendment – Susan Collins of Maine, Mark Kirk of Illinois, John McCain of Arizona, and co-sponsor Toomey.

Sen. Mark Udall voted YES
Sen. Michael Bennet voted YES


Firearms Legislation – Republican Substitute Amendment – Vote Rejected (52-48)

The second failed amendment was a Republican substitute offered by Judiciary committee ranking member Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Most Republicans have decried Democratic proposals for reducing gun violence as threatening to Americans’ Second Amendment rights and have emphasized in their own proposals a “law and order” approach. This is reflected in the Republican alternative, which would make it a federal crime to purchase guns on behalf of those legally barred from owning them; expand the scope of mental illnesses barring some individuals from owning firearms; and create a special task force focused on attempted firearms purchases by felons and fugitives. Nine Democrats supported the Republican proposal, while two Republicans opposed it.

Sen. Mark Udall voted NO
Sen. Michael Bennet voted NO


Firearms Legislation – Straw Purchases Amendment – Vote Rejected (58-42)

Judiciary Chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vt. co-sponsored an amendment that would make it a federal crime to buy guns on behalf of someone legally barred from possessing them, a practice called straw purchasing. The amendment fell just two votes short of adoption. (In a concession to the reality of a likely Republican filibuster, Majority Leader Reid agreed to raise the threshold for adoption of all amendments to 60 votes instead of the usual 51.)

Sen. Mark Udall voted YES
Sen. Michael Bennet voted YES


Recent House Votes
Cybersecurity Intelligence Sharing – Vote Passed (288-127, 17 Not Voting)

The House last week passed a bill to boost intelligence-sharing between federal agencies and private firms. Entities within the departments of Homeland Security and Justice would be designated for receipt of threat information and reporting of crimes from the private sector. It would outline procedures for sharing such information within the federal government and between the federal government, other levels of government and the private sector. Various concessions were made to assuage concerned advocates for privacy rights and civil liberties, including restrictions on the use of information, a sunset clause, and a mandatory report on the legislation’s impact on privacy and civil liberties. Ultimately these groups were not persuaded; neither was the president, who has issued a veto threat.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter voted YES


Upcoming Votes
Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013 – S.743

The Senate is scheduled to vote Monday on the question of invoking cloture on the motion to proceed to the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would allow states and localities to require Internet companies to charge sales tax.


Helping Sick Americans Now Act – H.R.1549

The House is scheduled to vote this week on a suspension bill that would transfer funds from re-open high-risk insurance pools created by the 2010 health care law. The pools had been closed by the Obama administration due to their unexpectedly high cost.


Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act – H.R.527

The House will also vote on a bill setting up a series of auctions to sell of the surplus helium in the Federal Helium Reserve.

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