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Last week in Congress / How our representatives voted

WASHINGTON -- Here are the votes of Western New York's four members of the House of Representatives and the state's two U.S. senators on major legislation in Congress last week. A "Y" means the member voted for the measure; an "N" means the member voted against the measure; an "A" means the member did not vote.

>HOUSE

Gas Drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf -- The House on Tuesday rejected an amendment sponsored by Rep. John Peterson, R-Pa., to the bill to fund the Interior Department that would have opened the Outer Continental Shelf 25 miles from shore to leasing for the development of natural gas wells. Proponents argued that the price of natural gas domestically is driving jobs overseas and that natural gas development would not harm beaches. Opponents argued that there is no way to drill for only natural gas and that the bulk of the reserves are located in the Gulf of Mexico, which is already open for exploration.

The vote was 196 yeas to 233 nays.

Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, N; Rep. John R. "Randy" Kuhl Jr., R-Hammondsport, Y; Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds, R-Clarence, Y; Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport, N.

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Prohibiting Oil Shale Leases -- The House on Wednesday accepted an amendment sponsored by Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo., to the bill to fund the Interior Department that would prohibit the use of funds to publish final regulations on oil shale leases. Proponents said an energy bill passed in 2005 requires a fast track for such leases. A proposed bill would alter the energy act and slow down the development process. They argued that rushing to development could be harmful to the environment and may damage future oil shale production. Opponents said there are potentially 2 trillion barrels of oil in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah. They said the sands were capable of producing 2 million barrels of oil daily and 100,000 jobs by 2011.

The vote was 216 yeas to 210 nays.

Higgins, Y; Kuhl, N; Reynolds, N; Slaughter, Y.

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Department of the Interior and Environmental Protection Agency Appropriations, Fiscal 2008: The House on Wednesday passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Norman Dicks, D-Wash., that would provide $27.6 billion in funding for fiscal 2008 for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Forest Service. Included in the $8 billion for the EPA is $3.4 billion for state and tribal assistance funds; $1.3 billion for cleanup and evaluation of contaminated sites; $1.1 billion for a state clean water fund; $788 million for science and technology; and $569 million for enforcement. The Interior Department is funded at $10.2 billion with $2.8 billion to combat wildfires; $2.5 billion for national parks; $2.3 billion for the Bureau of Indian Affairs; $1.4 billion for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; $1 billion for the Bureau of Land Management; and $1 billion for the U.S. Geological Survey. Also included in the bill is $3.4 billion for the Indian Health Service; $2.6 billion for the U.S. Forest Service; and $652 million for the Smithsonian Institution. The White House has said President Bush would veto the bill because it is $2 billion over the requested funding level.

The vote was 272 yeas to 155 nays.

Higgins, Y; Kuhl, N; Reynolds, N; Slaughter, Y.

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Delaying Implementation of Financial Reporting for Small Publicly Traded Companies -- The House on Thursday accepted an amendment sponsored by Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., that would extend an exemption for small publicly traded companies from reporting requirements under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Proponents said the requirements were too burdensome for a small company and the extension would allow time to fix the law. Opponents said the amendment was the beginning of an assault on the law and the intent had little to do with small business.

The vote was 267 yeas to 154 nays.

Higgins, N; Kuhl, Y; Reynolds, Y; Slaughter, Y.

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Removing Funding for the Vice President's Office -- The House on Thursday rejected an amendment, sponsored by Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., to the financial services appropriations bill that would have removed Executive Branch funding for the Office of the Vice President. Proponents said that since Vice President Cheney claimed he was not part of the Executive Branch and hence did not have to comply with an Executive Order on document disclosure issued by President Bush, his office there should not be funded. Opponents argued that to remove funding for the vice president's office was disrespectful to the Constitution and the office, regardless of whether proponents liked the current occupant.

The vote was 209 yeas to 217 nays.

Higgins, Y; Kuhl, N; Reynolds, N; Slaughter, Y.

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Financial Services and General Appropriations, Fiscal 2008 -- The House on Thursday passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., that would provide $21.4 billion in funding for the Treasury Department, the Executive Office of the President, the Judiciary, Washington, D.C., and independent federal agencies. The General Services Administration was funded at $7.9 billion for the Federal Buildings Fund; Federal Courts were funded at $5.9 billion. The bulk of Treasury Department funding went to the Internal Revenue Service with $3.6 billion for improving taxpayer services and $7.2 billion for enforcement. The Executive Office of the President was funded at $722 million. The Washington, D.C., courts were funded at $532 million. The bill also includes a 3.5 percent pay raise for civilian federal workers.

The vote was 240 yeas to 179 nays.

Higgins, Y; Kuhl, N; Reynolds, N; Slaughter, Y.

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>SENATE

Immigration Reform Bill -- The Senate on Thursday rejected a cloture motion, a parliamentary procedure to prevent a filibuster, on a bill sponsored by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., that would have reformed immigration laws. Among the controversial provisions of the bill were a guest worker program and eventual citizenship for those in the country illegally. Proponents said there are 12 million people in the country illegally and identifying them is vital to national security. Opponents said the bill was unenforceable and would result in additional undocumented aliens coming into the country hoping for amnesty.

The vote was 46 yeas to 53 nays.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D, Y; Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D, Y.

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Confirmation of Lt. Gen. Lute as Deputy National Security Adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan -- The Senate on Thursday confirmed Lt. Gen. Doug Lute as an Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan. The active duty general, who was in charge of operations for the Joint Command, will coordinate efforts between agencies in the two countries. Proponents said the general had direct experience in Iraq, having served as director of operations at U.S. Central Command. Opponents said that active duty military personnel should not take positions as presidential advisers since it blurs the line between objectivity and politics.

The vote was 94 yeas to 4 nays.

Clinton, Y; Schumer, Y.

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Confirmation of Richard Sullivan as a U.S. District Judge -- The Senate on Thursday unanimously confirmed Richard Sullivan as a District Court judge for the Southern District of New York. Proponents said Sullivan, a former U.S. Attorney who served as head of the New York/New Jersey Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, was rated well qualified by the American Bar Association.

The vote was 99 yeas to 0 nays.

Clinton, Y; Schumer, Y.

Information for this column is supplied by Targeted News Service.

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