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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

Parole Commission -- The House passed the United States Parole Commission Extension Act, sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas. The bill would reauthorize the U.S. Parole Commission through October 2014. Smith said the reauthorization was needed to maintain oversight of parole for federal offenders convicted before Nov. 1, 1987, the date on which federal parole for newly sentenced offenders ended. The vote Tuesday was unanimous with 415 yeas.

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

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Reporting Deaths in Custody -- The House passed the Death in Custody Reporting Act, sponsored by Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va. The bill would require states to report to the attorney general details about the deaths of any individuals in custody in order to avoid losing funding from federal justice assistance programs. Scott said data provided under the bill would let policymakers "make informed judgments about the appropriate treatment of prisoners and develop ways to lower the prisoner death rate."

The vote Tuesday was 398 yeas to 18 nays.

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

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Medical Building Projects for Veterans -- The House passed the Veterans Health Care Facilities Capital Improvement Act, sponsored by Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio. The bill would authorize a variety of Veterans Affairs projects for building and renovating medical facilities around the country. Johnson said the projects would help Veterans Affairs continue to provide "high-quality medical care and services to our honored veterans" and also help rehabilitate homeless veterans. The vote Tuesday was 412 yeas to 3 nays.

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

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Continuing Appropriations -- The House rejected the Senate amendment to the Continuing Appropriations Act, sponsored by Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo. The amendment would have provided funding for government operations through Nov. 18, added $1 billion of emergency 2011 and $2.65 billion of 2012 funding for FEMA disaster relief efforts and offset the $1 billion by cutting the Energy Department's loan guarantee program for advanced vehicle manufacturing.

A supporter, Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., said the bill met a "commitment to responsible and reduced levels of spending" while continuing to fund government programs and also sustaining FEMA programs through the end of fiscal 2011. An opponent, Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., said the cut in the loan guarantee program would "put American manufacturing jobs at risk" and curb economic growth.

The vote Wednesday was 195 yeas to 230 nays.

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

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Services Programs -- The House passed the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act, sponsored by Rep. Geoff Davis, R-Ky. The bill would reauthorize child and family services programs through fiscal 2016, establish several reforms to the programs and renew authority for the secretary of health and human services to grant waivers for states to test new child welfare approaches.

The vote Tuesday was 395 yeas to 25 nays.

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

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Considering Continuing Appropriations -- The House agreed to a resolution, sponsored by Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., to waive the requirement that a continuing appropriations bill receive support of a two-thirds majority in order to be considered by the House. Dreier said the waiver was needed to allow the House to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government through Nov.18.

An opponent, Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., called the resolution a violation of Republican "promises for a more open, more transparent House of Representatives."

The vote Thursday was 238 yeas to 182 nays.

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

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Funding Government Operations -- The House agreed to the Senate amendment to the Continuing Appropriations Act, sponsored by Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo. The amendment would provide funding for government operations through Nov. 18, add $1 billion of emergency 2011 and $2.65 billion of 2012 funding for FEMA disaster relief efforts and offset $100 million of the spending by cutting the Energy Department's loan guarantee program for innovative energy.

A supporter, Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., said the funding for FEMA was necessary to help recovery efforts, and the offsetting cut would "ensure that the hard-earned dollars of the American people are not wasted" on dubious loans. An opponent, Rep. Slaughter, said the loan guarantee program "has created 39,000 jobs and is poised to create 60,000 more." The vote Thursday was 219 yeas to 203 nays.

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

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>SENATE

Duty-free Imports -- The Senate approved cloture for debate on the Generalized System of Preferences Act, sponsored by Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich. The bill would reauthorize the Generalized System of Preferences for authorizing duty-free imports from certain developing countries. A supporter, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., said the reauthorization "helps Americans keep their jobs by providing the low-cost inputs U.S. manufacturers need" and removing hundreds of millions of dollars of tariffs on imports.

The vote last Monday was 84 yeas to 8 nays.

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

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Trade Agreements -- The Senate rejected an amendment, sponsored by Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to the Generalized System of Preferences Act. The amendment would have granted the president authority to negotiate trade promotion agreements through the end of 2013. McConnell said competitors to the U.S. were taking "advantage of the fact that we have not had a trade agreement for years," and "if America wants to be the leader of the world in trade, we have to have trade agreements."

An opponent, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., said the amendment did not reflect changes in the global landscape over the past decade and failed to include trade adjustment assistance programs for workers who lose their jobs. The vote Tuesday was 45 yeas to 55 nays.

Schumer, N; Gillibrand, N.

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Free Trade Agreements -- The Senate rejected an amendment, sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, to the Generalized System of Preferences Act. The amendment would have made legislation enacting trade adjustment assistance programs contingent on the concurrent enactment of free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama. Hatch said his amendment would pressure President Obama to submit the free-trade agreements to Congress for approval, which would lead to the creation of 250,000 new jobs. An opponent, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., said the amendment would hurt the economy by delaying job training to give Americans "the help they need to find good-paying jobs."

The vote Wednesday was 44 yeas to 54 nays.

Schumer, N; Gillibrand, N.

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Funding Level for Trade Assistance -- The Senate rejected an amendment, sponsored by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to the Generalized System of Preferences Act. The amendment would have extended trade adjustment assistance programs at the $1 billion annual funding level in place before 2009. McCain said that by cutting spending increases on the programs over the past three years, his amendment would eliminate "duplicative and possibly ineffective" spending on job training. An opponent, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., said the amendment would repeal job training assistance for service workers and "jeopardize passage of free-trade agreements" by complicating the process for their approval by the House and Senate.

The vote Wednesday was 46 yeas to 53 nays.

Schumer, N; Gillibrand, N.

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Trade Assistance for Business -- The Senate rejected an amendment, sponsored by Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., to the Generalized System of Preferences Act. The amendment would have repealed the trade adjustment assistance program to aid businesses negatively impacted by trade agreements. Kyl said the program was redundant, ineffective, had little connection to trade and was not supported by the Obama administration. An opponent, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, called the program "a lifeline for small businesses and community schools and all of that which matters to our tax base and our communities."

The vote Wednesday was 43 yeas to 54 nays.

Schumer, N; Gillibrand, N.

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Eligibility for Trade Assistance -- The Senate rejected an amendment, sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., to the Generalized System of Preferences Act. The amendment would have limited eligibility for trade adjustment assistance to workers laid off because of increased imports from nations with which the U.S. has a free-trade agreement. Rubio said his amendment would return trade assistance to the historical purpose of only applying to free-trade agreements, before it was expanded in 2009.

An opponent, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., said the restriction would prevent many Americans from receiving "the important retraining they need to find good-paying jobs" and also "jeopardize passage of trade adjustment assistance and jeopardize the passage of free-trade agreements."

The vote Thursday was 34 yeas to 62 nays.

Schumer, Y; Gillibrand, N.

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Fighter Aircraft for Taiwan -- The Senate rejected an amendment, sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, to the Generalized System of Preferences Act. The amendment would have directed the president to sell at least 66 F-16C/D multirole fighter aircraft to Taiwan. Cornyn said the aircraft sales would meet "the responsibility of the U.S. government to provide our ally Taiwan with sufficient defensive weapons in order to defend itself against any possible aggression by Communist China or from any other source."

An opponent, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., said, "The debate on this trade adjustment assistance bill is not the appropriate time, season or place to raise this issue."

The vote Thursday was 48 yeas to 48 nays.

Schumer, N; Gillibrand, N.

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Trade Assistance for Workers -- The Senate approved an amendment sponsored by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., to the Generalized System of Preferences Act. The amendment would extend and modify the trade adjustment assistance program for workers who lose their jobs because of imports from other countries.

A supporter, Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said the amendment would help the economy by providing training opportunities for people to learn new skills to find new jobs replacing the ones they lost. An opponent, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said the amendment would "spend more taxpayer dollars on an expanded domestic spending program of dubious value." The vote Thursday was 69 yeas to 28 nays.

Schumer, Y; Gillibrand, Y.

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Generalized System of Preferences -- The Senate passed the Generalized System of Preferences Act, sponsored by Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich. The bill would reauthorize the Generalized System of Preferences for authorizing duty-free imports from certain developing countries and reauthorize and expand trade adjustment assistance programs, while also taking measures to reform the programs.

A supporter, Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said the bill would "reinvigorate our work force so that American enterprise is positioned to battle for customers with our counterparts in countries like China." An opponent, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said the programs had "dubious value and unproven results." The vote Thursday was 70 yeas to 27 nays.

Schumer, Y; Gillibrand, Y.

Information for this column is supplied by Targeted News Service.

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