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Last week in Congress / How our representatives voted

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

Investigating Violent Crime -- The House passed the Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act, sponsored by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. The bill would clarify the authority of the FBI to assist state and local law enforcement authorities in the investigation of mass killings or attempted mass killings in nonfederal public places.

The vote last Monday was 358 yeas to 9 nays.

Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, Y; Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul, D-Amherst, Y; Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, Y; Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport, Y.

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Time Limit for Appealing Civil Legal Cases -- The House passed the Appeal Time Clarification Act, sponsored by Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C. The bill would clarify that litigants in civil actions have 60 days to appeal rulings in cases that involve the federal government or an officer of the federal government.

The vote last Monday was unanimous with 384 yeas.

Higgins, Y; Hochul, Y; Reed, Y; Slaughter, Y.

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Financial Disclosure by Judges -- The House passed a bill, sponsored by Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., to authorize the U.S. Judicial Conference to redact sensitive information in financial disclosure reports submitted by federal judges.

Conyers said the redaction authority would improve security for judges who could be endangered by haraers or attackers as a result of information included in their disclosure reports without "substantially interfering with dissemination of information to the public."

The vote last Monday was unanimous with 384 yeas.

Higgins, Y; Hochul, Y; Reed, Y; Slaughter, Y.

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Requirements for Charter Schools -- The House rejected an amendment, sponsored by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, to the Empowering Parents Through Quality Charter Schools Act. The amendment would have struck a provision requiring charter schools to meet four requirements to qualify for government grants: having economic disadvantaged students, students from major racial and ethnic groups, students with disabilities and students with limited English proficiency.

The vote Tuesday was 43 yeas to 374 nays.

Higgins, N; Hochul, N; Reed, N; Slaughter, N.

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Charter Schools -- The House passed the Empowering Parents Through Quality Charter Schools Act, sponsored by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif. The bill would reform the federal government's charter schools program by offering grants to states that lift caps on the growth of charter schools and simplify the grants process.

The vote Tuesday was 365 yeas to 54 nays.

Higgins, Y; Hochul, Y; Reed, Y; Slaughter, Y.

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Increasing Debt Limit -- The House agreed to a resolution, sponsored by Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, to express disapproval of President Obama's exercise of authority to increase the debt limit.

Reed said the resolution reflected "a commitment to ending the decades-old borrow-and-spend practices and mentality that runs rampant here in Washington" and the need to address the threat posed by increasing debt.

An opponent, Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., said that "were this resolution to become law, all those who speak or vote for it have to understand that the U.S. would default on its obligations for the first time in our history," resulting in significant harm to the economy.

The vote Wednesday was 232 yeas to 186 nays.

Higgins, N; Hochul, N; Reed, Y; Slaughter, N.

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Religious Freedom -- The House passed the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Reform and Reauthorization Act, sponsored by Rep. Frank R. Wolf, R-Va. The bill would reauthorize the commission and make several reforms to its operation.

The vote Thursday was 391 yeas to 21 nays.

Higgins, Y; Hochul, Y; Reed, Y; Slaughter, Y.

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Labor Relations Board -- The House passed the Protecting Jobs From Government Interference Act, sponsored by Rep. Tim Scott, R-S.C. The bill would bar the National Labor Relations Board from ordering employers to close, relocate or transfer their operations or make an investment in operations at a specific location.

A supporter, Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., said the bill would help employers and workers by preventing the board from forcing an employer to relocate and therefore "will encourage businesses to create jobs right here at home." An opponent, Rep. Robert Andrews, D-N.J., said it would encourage employers to outsource operations overseas by removing protections for unionization and workers' rights.

The vote Thursday was 238 yeas to 186 nays.

Higgins, N; Hochul, N; Reed, Y; Slaughter, Y.

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>SENATE

Ban on Imports from Burma -- The Senate rejected a cloture motion to cut off debate on the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act, sponsored by Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y. The bill would have renewed for one year a ban on imports from Burma that was initially approved by Congress in 2003.

The vote last Monday was 53 yeas to 33 nays, short of the three-fifths majority required for approval.

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

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Funding FEMA -- The Senate approved a cloture motion to cut off debate on the Emergency Supplemental Disaster Relief Appropriations Resolution, sponsored by Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y. The bill would provide $500 million of supplemental funding for FEMA's disaster relief fund in fiscal 2011 and $4.6 billion for the fund in fiscal 2012.

The vote Tuesday was 61 yeas to 38 nays, more than the three-fifths majority required for approval.

Gillibrand, Y; Schumer, Y.

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Cutting Government Spending -- The Senate rejected an amendment, sponsored by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., to the Emergency Supplemental Disaster Relief Appropriations Resolution. The amendment would have required the Office of Management and Budget to identify $7 billion of potential measures to cut government spending by eliminating duplicative and overlapping programs.

The vote Thursday was 54 yeas to 45 nays, short of the three-fifths majority required for approval.

Gillibrand, N; Schumer, N.

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Supplemental Funding for FEMA -- The Senate approved a substitute amendment, sponsored by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., to the Emergency Supplemental Disaster Relief Appropriations Resolution. The amendment would provide $500 million of supplemental funding for FEMA's disaster relief fund in fiscal 2011 and $4.6 billion for the fund in fiscal 2012.

The vote Thursday was 62 yeas to 37 nays.

Gillibrand, Y; Schumer, Y.

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Cutting FAA Funding -- The Senate rejected an amendment, sponsored by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to the Surface and Air Transportation Programs Extension Act. The amendment would have cut funding for the Federal Aviation Administration for the next four months to a level no greater than the level of funding provided from late 2007 to early 2008.

The vote Thursday was 36 yeas to 61 nays.

Gillibrand, N; Schumer, N.

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Extending FAA, Surface Transportation -- The Senate passed the Surface and Air Transportation Programs Extension Act, sponsored by Rep. John Mica, R-Fla. The bill would extend reauthorization for the Federal Aviation Administration for four months and extend the surface transportation program for six months.

The vote Thursday was 92 yeas to 6 nays.

Gillibrand, Y; Schumer, Y.

Information for this column is supplied by Targeted News Service.