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Recently 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 recently. 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.2

>HOUSE

Combating Toxic Algae Blooms and Hypoxia -- The House rejected the Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act, sponsored by Rep. Brian Baird, D-Wash., which would have authorized a program to combat algae blooms and hypoxia zones in bodies of water.

The vote March 12 was 251 yeas to 103 nays.

Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, A; Rep. Chris Lee, R-Clarence, N; Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport, Y.

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Congratulating Maryland Men's Basketball Team -- The House approved a resolution, sponsored by Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., to congratulate the University of Maryland men's basketball team on its 2009-2010 season.

Proponents said the resolution recognized "a great year for a great team, a great coach and a great ACC player of the year." Opponents said that a similar resolution introduced by the opposing party had been pulled off the floor and that it was inequitable to pass a resolution just because it was for a favored team of Hoyer, the House majority leader.

The vote Wednesday was 279 yeas to 132 nays.

Higgins, Y; Lee, N; Slaughter, Y.

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Smuggling of Tobacco Products -- The House approved the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act, sponsored by Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., to close any loopholes in current tobacco trafficking laws, enhance penalties for violations and provide law enforcement with new tools to combat new methods being used by cigarette traffickers for distributing products and to increase the penalties for violations.

The vote Wednesday was 387 yeas to 25 nays.

Higgins, Y; Lee, Y; Slaughter, A.

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Exchanging Government Lands in Florida -- The House approved the Florida National Forest Land Adjustment Act, sponsored by Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Fla., to exchange lands held by the State of Florida and the federal government.

The vote Wednesday was 418 yeas to 1 nay.

Higgins, Y; Lee, Y; Slaughter, A.

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Plain Writing in Government Documents -- The House approved the Plain Writing Act, sponsored by Rep. Bruce L. Braley, D-Iowa, to require clear writing in government documents issued to the public pertaining to government benefits, compliance with government requirements and tax filings.

The vote Wednesday was 386 yeas to 33 nays.

Higgins, Y; Lee, Y; Slaughter, A.

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Using Unspent Members' Funds to Reduce the Debt -- The House approved the Sensible Steps Toward a Balanced Budget Act, sponsored by Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz., that would require House members to transfer a deposit of unspent funds in their annual allowance to the Treasury to reduce the national debt.

The vote Wednesday was 413 yeas to 1 nay.

Higgins, Y; Lee, Y; Slaughter, A.

Agricultural Credit -- The House passed the Agricultural Credit Act, sponsored by Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., to reauthorize state agricultural mediation programs.

The vote Thursday was 382 yeas to 26 yeas.

Higgins, Y; Lee, Y; Slaughter, Y.

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>SENATE

Moratorium on Earmark Spending -- The Senate tabled an amendment, sponsored by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., to a bill that would have put a moratorium on earmark spending in fiscal 2010 and fiscal 2011. The amendment was to a bill that would tax bonuses received by some Troubled Assets Relief Program recipients.

The vote Tuesday was 68 yeas to 29 nays to table the amendment.

Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D, Y; Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D, Y.

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Canceling Earmark Spending on Transportation -- The Senate approved an amendment, sponsored by Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., that would cancel transportation earmark projects that fail to meet targets for progress toward completion. The amendment was to a bill that would tax bonuses received by some Troubled Assets Relief Program recipients.

The vote Tuesday was 87 yeas to 11 nays.

Gillibrand, Y; Schumer, Y.

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Earmarks in Deficit Years -- The Senate rejected an amendment, sponsored by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Evan Bayh, D-Ind., to include a clause prohibiting earmarks to bills in years of federal deficits or national debt. The amendment was to a bill that would tax bonuses received by some Troubled Assets Relief Program recipients.

Proponents said: "Earmarks consume a small percentage of a budget measured in the trillions, but given the seriousness of our current situation and the problems that are confronting American families ... it is deeply offensive that we in Congress can't exercise some fiscal discipline."

The vote Thursday was 26 yeas to 70 nays.

Gillibrand, N; Schumer, N.

Information for this column is supplied by Targeted News Service.

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