|Recent Senate Votes|
|Hagel Nomination Confirmation – Vote Confirmed (58-41, 1 Not Voting)
After months of being hammered by conservative media outlets and activist groups and a wobbly performance in his confirmation hearing, Chuck Hagel was confirmed last week to become the 24th Secretary of Defense. The 58-41 vote fell mostly along party lines, with Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Richard Shelby of Alabama and Hagels fellow Nebraskan Mike Johanns the only Republicans joining all Democrats and independents in voting to confirm him. The confirmation vote followed a successful, and much more lopsided, cloture vote (Roll Call 23) itself an unusual hurdle to clear on a Cabinet nomination (though not, strictly speaking unprecedented, as some commentators and Democratic officials have stated).
Lew Nomination Confirmation – Vote Confirmed (71-26, 3 Not Voting)
Receiving much less attention and generating much less controversy was the nomination of Jacob J. Lew to be the next Treasury Secretary. Though Lew did receive some criticism for compensation packages he received from former employers New York University and Citigroup, as well as for his Cayman Islands investments, his nomination sailed through committee and received healthy bipartisan support on the Senate floor.
Republican Sequester Alternative Cloture – Vote Rejected (38-62)
The last day of February saw both parties in the Senate make a show of attempting to avert the budget sequester that went into effect the next day. The Republican proposal would order the President to submit a sequester replacement plan by March 15, which would cut roughly the same amount of funds in the same 50-50, defense-non-defense proportion as the sequester, but would allow the White House discretion in allocating the cuts within each budget function. Separately, the bill would allow the Defense Secretary to transfer previously-appropriated funds between departmental accounts. President Obama threatened to veto the bill, and it saw more Republican defections (nine) than Democratic recruits (two).
Democratic Sequester Alternative Cloture – Vote Rejected (51-49)
The Democratic sequester replacement plan and it should be noted that both this bill and the Republican bill only deal with year one of what is scheduled to be a decade-long budget squeeze would fully repeal the $85 billion in cuts and replace them with several policy alternatives. These include ending direct payments to farmers, a proposal the Senate approved overwhelmingly last year in its version of the farm bill that never became law. The bill would also enact a 30% minimum tax rate on individual incomes over $5 million and would change the tax law definition of crude oil to include tar sands. Though the bill had no chance of garnering 60 votes, its chances were further damaged when the Congressional Budget Office reported that it would have increased the deficit by $7 billion.
|Recent House Votes|
|Gender-based Violence Prevention Final Passage – Vote Passed (286-138, 7 Not Voting)
Appearing to decide that the issue simply was not worth fighting over any longer, House leadership allowed the Senate-passed Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA) to come to the floor and pass with majority-Democratic support. Both chambers passed reauthorization measures in the 112th Congress, but no extension became law due to a variety of disagreements between the Senate and House leadership. These mostly centered on Senate efforts to expand the laws reach, for example by granting Indian tribal courts authority to prosecute non-Indian offenders and by extending protections to victims of gender identity- and sexual orientation-based violence. Democrats made much hay of the GOPs resistance, labeling it part of a broader war on women that also included attacks on contraceptive coverage in Obamacare. Senate Democratic leaders made it a priority to re-pass VAWA quickly at the beginning of the 113th Congress, thus placing the onus back on House Republicans. Republicans offered an alternative bill as a replacement amendment, but it failed when 60 GOP members joined nearly all Democrats in voting no (Roll Call 54). The bill also extends the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, a law aimed at thwarting human trafficking. VAWA is now cleared for the presidents signature.
| Authorizing Expenditures by Senate Committees – S.RES.64
The Senate is scheduled to take up this resolution that would authorize expenditures by committees of the Senate for the period March 1, 2013, through September 30, 2013.
The House is scheduled to work on this bill that would continue providing funding to government programs. The current funding expires March 27.
March 5, 2013
Bennet, Udall, and Perlmutter Watch 3-4-13: Recent Votes
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