|Recent Senate Votes|
|Cybersecurity Cloture – Vote Rejected (51-47, 2 Not Voting)
In contrast to the brisk movement toward passage of the Sportsmen’s Act, cybersecurity legislation once again ran aground in the Senate after a failure to invoke cloture. Despite the entreaties of the bill’s sponsors, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs chairman Joseph I. Lieberman, I-Ct. and ranking member Susan Collins, R-Me., Republicans (as well as five Democrats) refused to end debate on the bill. Concerns in the business community remain a major stumbling block. The Chamber of Commerce and its congressional allies are wary that security standards established by the bill could morph from voluntary to mandatory once they become law. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. declared that “cybersecurity is dead for this Congress.” The House passed a much less ambitious bill earlier this year that focused on information sharing between the government and private sector entities. President Obama threatened to veto that measure, citing privacy concerns, while endorsing the Senate bill. With the Senate deadlocked, any action in the remainder of the year is likely to come from the White House, which has reportedly drafted an executive order to protect vital computer networks from attack.
Sportsmens Access to Federal Land Cloture – Vote Agreed to (84-12, 4 Not Voting)
The Senate moved one step closer last week to passing a bill with a smorgasbord of provisions designed to appeal to outdoor enthusiasts, voting affirmatively on both a motion to proceed (Roll Call 201) and later invoking cloture on the bill. Sponsored by Democrat Jon Tester, D-Mont., the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 would exempt ammunition and fishing equipment from EPA regulation; ease a ban on importation of polar bear trophies from Canada; and allow the issuance of permits for individuals carrying bows and crossbows to cross national park land. The bill would reauthorize a number of wildlife conservation measures, as well as a law to facilitate the sale or exchange of federal land with non-federal landowners whose holdings lie within the boundaries of federal tracts. Budget Committee ranking member Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. raised a point of order last week regarding spending on duck stamps authorized in the bill. The point of order is expected to be overridden, with final passage coming after the Thanksgiving recess. President Obama supports the bill.
|Recent House Votes|
|Russia Trade Relations, Human Rights Oversight Passage – Vote Passed (365-43, 25 Not Voting)
In its first week of legislative action since the November 6 elections, the House moved on a measure to establish Permanent Normal Trade Relations with the Russian Federation. By an overwhelming and bipartisan majority, the lower chamber endorsed a measure to essentially repeal 1970s-era restrictions on trade with Russia and Moldova that were originally implemented because the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc nations denied freedom of emigration to their Jewish citizens. The legislation was necessitated by Russia’s recent accession to the World Trade Organization, which was finalized in late August. If U.S. trade restrictions are not lifted, American goods could become subject to retaliatory tariffs, closing off a potentially lucrative new market. The Russia trade title includes several requirements for oversight from the U.S. Trade Representative to ensure Russia is living up to its new WTO obligations. Legislators more skeptical of closer ties with Russia fought for the inclusion of human rights provisions in the legislation. These include a sense of Congress statement the U.S. should support democracy and human rights activists in Russia. The teeth of the provisions, however, center on the ordeal of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian attorney who died under suspicious circumstances while in police custody in 2009. The president will be required to compile a list of names of those responsible for Magnitsky’s abuse and death. Those individuals will be denied entry to the U.S. and their assets will be frozen. The White House is officially supportive of the combined measure, though the Magnitsky provisions are already causing headaches with Moscow. The bill now moves to the Senate, where the Finance and Foreign Relations panels have already passed similar measures.
November 20, 2012
Bennet, Udall, and Perlmutter Watch 11-19-12: Recent Votes
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