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Recently in Congress / How our representatives voted

HOUSE

Managing the Upper Mississippi River Basin -- The House approved the Upper Mississippi River Basin Protection Act, sponsored by Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis., to promote Interior Department efforts to limit sediment and nutrient in the Upper Mississippi River Basin.

The vote, on March 19, was 289 yeas to 121 nays.

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

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Hudson River Valley National Parks Study -- The House approved the Hudson River Valley Special Resource Study Act, sponsored by Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey, D-N.Y., to require the Interior secretary to study designating the Hudson River Valley as part of the National Park System. The parkland under consideration would run from Rodgers Island at Fort Edward to the southern-most boundary of Westchester County.

The vote, on March 19, was 293 yeas to 115 nays.

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

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House, Senate Health Reform Reconciliation -- The House passed the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, sponsored by Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C., to provide reconciliation to the fiscal 2010 budget resolution.

Proponents said: "Congress cleared the way for health care reform in the budget resolution. And when we did, we stipulated that reform had to be deficit-neutral. We can now say that the House, Senate and President have all abided by this principle." The 10-year cost of the covered changes in the bill is $788 billion. The legislation also includes reductions, savings and new revenues that total $931 billion. Opponents said the legislation would, "decrease access, decrease quality, because you can't see your doctor and costs will go up."

The vote on Sunday was 220 yeas to 211 nays.

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

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Helping Homeless Veterans -- The House passed the End Veteran Homelessness Act, sponsored by Rep. Thomas Perriello, D-Va., to improve comprehensive services for homeless veterans and to increase federal funding to ensure that more veterans are reached and provided with the services they need.

The vote, on Monday, was unanimous with 413 yeas.

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

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Tax Incentives for Job Creation -- The House approved the Small Business and Infrastructure Jobs Tax Act, sponsored by Rep. Sander M. Levin, D-Mich., to provide tax incentives for job creation and expand the Build America Bonds program. The incentives included an exemption from capital gain taxes for small-business stock and an increase in the allowed deduction for costs from starting a business.

The vote on Wednesday was 246 yeas to 178 nays.

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

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Spending on Disaster Relief, Youth Jobs -- The House approved the Disaster Relief and Summer Jobs Act, sponsored by Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., to provide $5.1 billion in emergency funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The legislation would also support more than 300,000 jobs for youth ages 16 to 21. Proponents said the legislation was necessary because FEMA would run out of money in the next 2 or 3 weeks. Opponents said it was unnecessary to load up a disaster bill with hundreds of millions of dollars on a summer youth program.

The vote Wednesday was 239 yeas to 175 nays.

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

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Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation -- The House agreed to the Senate amendments of the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Ac, sponsored by Rep. John Spratt Jr., D-S.C., to provide for reconciliation of the fiscal 2010 budget resolution on health care. Proponents said the legislation would be "the first piece of groundbreaking health reforms the law of the land, a remarkable moment that will benefit millions of American families and small businesses. And with this law, we make college more affordable and health care available to all Americans."

Opponents said the legislation "doesn't fix the fact that this is a government takeover of health care that's going to mandate that every American buy health insurance whether they want it or need it or not. It doesn't fix the fact that it includes $600 billion in job-killing tax increases in the worst economy in 30 years. It doesn't fix the fact this bill provides public funding for elective abortion for the first time in American history."

The vote on Thursday was 220 yeas to 207 nays.

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

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>SENATE

Medicare Funds and Health Care -- The Senate rejected an amendment, sponsored by Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., to the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act that would have barred the use of Medicare funds to fund other programs. Proponents said the amendment "keeps Medicare savings in the Medicare trust fund and uses them to make Medicare more solvent."

Opponents said it would take away tax credits to middle Americans intended to help them buy insurance and that it would "kill the assistance to seniors for prescription drugs." The vote on Wednesday was 56 yeas to 42 nays, with the amendment tabled for insufficient support.

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

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Fraudulent Medicaid Prescriptions -- The Senate rejected an amendment, sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., to the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act that would have eliminated fraudulent Medicaid payments and would have prohibited the coverage of Viagra for child molesters and other sexual criminals and for those intended to induce abortion. Proponents said the amendment was a way to spread $650 million a year to the states at a time when "all the States are struggling with Medicaid." Opponents called it "a crass political stunt aimed at making 30-second commercials, not public policy."

The vote Wednesday was 57 yeas to 42 nays, with the amendment tabled for insufficient support.

Gillibrand, Y; Schumer, Y.

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Tax on Medical Devices -- The Senate rejected an amendment, sponsored by Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., to the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act that would have exempted pediatric and disability devices from a medical devices tax. Proponents said the tax made medical devices more expensive for families and could prevent others from accessing the device they need in order to enhance or save their lives. Opponents said "it exempts a certain group from the shared responsibility in helping to finance health care reform" and that it would reduce coverage by changing the income threshold. The vote Wednesday was 57 yeas to 41 nays, with the amendment tabled for insufficient support.

Gillibrand, Y; Schumer, Y.

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Military Health Care Programs -- The Senate rejected an amendment, sponsored by Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., to the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act that would have established minimum essential coverage levels for certain military health care programs.

The vote Wednesday was 54 yeas to 44 nays, with the amendment tabled for insufficient support.

Gillibrand, Y; Schumer, Y.

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Prohibiting Tax Funds for Illegal Aliens -- The Senate tabled an amendment, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., to the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act that would have prevented the use of taxpayer dollars to fund health benefits for illegal aliens through an eligibility verification system and would have maintained current statutes to ensure that illegals do not become an additional tax burden in other areas.

Proponents said, "This amendment would reduce fraud and the financial burden of the legislation on the American taxpayers." Opponents, who voted to table the amendment, said, "What this amendment does, is say to legal permanent residents paying taxes, they cannot use the Tax Code like other citizens for deductions and credits for 5 years. They are paying taxes under the Tax Code. They should be allowed the same tax credits as other Americans."

The vote Thursday to table the amendment was 55 yeas to 43 nays.

Gillibrand, Y; Schumer, Y.

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Health Insurance Purchased Across State Lines -- The Senate tabled an amendment, sponsored by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., to the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act that would have sent the legislation to the Senate Finance Committee with instructions to report any changes in the legislation that could affect the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and to ensure that the legislation wouldn't prohibit Americans from purchasing health insurance across state lines.

Proponents said, "The laws of the land have actually created state-by-state monopolies that have not been responsive to the American people and have run up costs." Opponents of the amendment who voted to table it said, "Once the exchange is open in 2014, insurance companies will automatically be able to sell across state lines. But to allow sales now would be irresponsible because it would encourage a race to the bottom." The vote Thursday to table the amendment was 56 yeas to 43 nays.

Gillibrand, Y; Schumer, Y.

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Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation -- The Senate passed the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act, sponsored by Rep. John Spratt Jr., D-S.C., to provide for reconciliation of the fiscal 2010 budget resolution. Proponents said: "It is true that because health care is so complex, because changes must be phased in and transition periods are often necessary, many of the benefits of this bill will not take effect for some time. But improvements in health care for millions of Americans will take place almost immediately."

Opponents took issue with the insertion of federal school loan language into health care legislation and said, "The federal government is going to have to borrow another half trillion dollars in order to make these loans [and] as the Medicaid cost goes up, we will -- have to reduce funding for public higher education or to raise taxes or raise tuition or do all three."

The vote Thursday was 56 yeas to 43 nays.

Gillibrand, Y; Schumer, Y.

Information for this column is supplied by Targeted News Service.

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