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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

Intelligence Programs -- The House agreed to the Senate amendment to the Intelligence Authorization Act, sponsored by Rep. Mike J. Rogers, R-Mich. The bill would authorize funding for intelligence programs at the CIA, Defense Department and other agencies in 2012. Rogers said it "sustains our current intelligence capabilities and provides for the development of future capabilities, all while achieving significant savings" and cutting unnecessary spending.

The vote Dec. 16 was 396 yeas to 23 nays.

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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Omnibus Appropriations -- The House agreed to the conference report for the Omnibus Appropriations Act, originally sponsored by Rep. John Abney Culberson, R-Texas. The bill will fund military construction, Veterans Affairs, the Defense Department, Labor Department, Health and Human Services and various other agencies for fiscal year 2012.

A supporter, Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., said the bill "provides funding necessary to support our national security" as well as "Homeland Security efforts to keep our borders and communities safe and sound." An opponent, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, criticized the bill's funding for military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, which he said have failed to establish democracy and legitimate government in the two countries.

The vote Dec. 16 was 296 yeas to 121 nays.

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

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Offsetting Disaster Relief Spending -- The House agreed to a resolution, sponsored by Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., that would offset $8.1 billion of spending on disaster relief in fiscal 2012 by making a 1.83 percent across-the-board cut to all discretionary spending, except for the Defense Department, military construction programs and Veterans Affairs.

Rogers said the offset "ensures that we are living within our means while still providing for the hundreds of thousands of Americans affected by recent natural disasters with the help that they need."

The vote Dec. 16 was 255 yeas to 165 nays.

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

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Disaster Relief Programs -- The House passed the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, sponsored by Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky. The bill would provide $6.4 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster relief fund and $1.7 billion for disaster recovery programs at the Army Corps of Engineers in 2012.

Rogers said the funding will support disaster readiness and aid, cover the cost of repairs from earlier disasters, "help repair damage to critical infrastructure caused by recent storms and floods, and will help prepare for future disaster events."

The vote Dec. 16 was 351 yeas to 67 nays.

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

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Payroll Tax Cut Amendments -- The House disagreed to the Senate amendments to the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act and requested a conference with the Senate on the bill. The amendments would have extended the payroll tax cut until the end of February, extended Medicare payments to health care providers, extended unemployment compensation and required the Obama administration to decide within 60 days whether to grant a permit for construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Alberta to Texas.

A supporter, Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., called the Senate amendments "totally unworkable" legislation that would create uncertainty and confusion through short-term tax policy, whereas the House-passed payroll tax cut extension would help the economy and provide policy certainty.

An opponent, Rep. Sander M. Levin, D-Mich., said rejecting the amendments would jeopardize "the lives of millions of taxpayers, millions of the unemployed and millions of seniors" by threatening to let the tax cut and unemployment benefits expire.

The vote Tuesday was 229 yeas to 193 nays.

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

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Payroll Tax Cut Resolution -- The House passed a resolution, sponsored by Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., expressing the sense of the House that Congress should pass a bill extending the payroll tax cut through the end of 2012, eliminating for two years a cut in Medicare reimbursement for physicians and cutting spending in order to offset lost revenue for the Social Security Trust Fund.

Price said the resolution "makes it clear that the House supports taking care of middle-class families, seniors and job creators," and will negotiate with the Senate to pass a bill "to put in place a set of solutions that will create certainty for families, job creators, and seniors."

An opponent, Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., said the House needed to pass the Senate's version of the bill in order "to prevent a tax increase on 160 million working Americans" and the cancellation of unemployment benefits for 2.2. million Americans.

The vote Tuesday was 226 yeas to 185 nays.

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

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>SENATE

Military Budget -- The Senate agreed to the conference report for the National Defense Authorization Act, a bill originally sponsored by Rep. Howard P. McKeon, R-Calif. The compromise legislation will provide $554 billion of funding for military programs and $115.5 billion for overseas combat operations in 2012, and give the president authority to indefinitely detain suspected terrorists, who would be tried before military commissions.

A supporter, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said the bill cut spending by $43 billion from 2011 levels while still providing the soldiers "with the means they need to accomplish their missions."

An opponent, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, criticized it for authorizing indefinite detention of citizens without trial, giving the military sole power to detain suspected terrorists arrested in the U.S. and making it "much more difficult to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay."

The vote Dec. 15 was 86 yeas to 13 nays.

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

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Appeals Court Judge -- The Senate confirmed the nomination of Morgan Christen to serve as a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

A supporter, Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, cited Christen's "impressive record of public service" as a judge in Alaska's judicial system and her unanimously well-qualified rating from the American Bar Association in predicting that "she will continue to be a fair and impartial judge as a member of the Ninth Circuit."

The vote Dec. 15 was 95 yeas to 3 nays.

Gillibrand, Y; Schumer, Y.

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Extending Payroll Tax Cut -- The Senate passed a substitute amendment, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, to the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act.

The amendment would extend the payroll tax cut until the end of February, extend Medicare payments to health care providers, extend unemployment compensation and require the Obama administration to decide within 60 days whether to grant a permit for construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Alberta to Texas.

McConnell called the bill a successful compromise between Republicans and Democrats that will benefit the economy by encouraging the construction of Keystone XL. An opponent, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said Keystone XL "would virtually assure more oil spills, it would do nothing to promote conservation and reduce waste, and it would do nothing to spur investment in clean energy alternatives."

The vote Dec. 17 was 89 yeas to 10 nays.

Gillibrand, Y; Schumer, Y.

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Disaster Relief -- The Senate passed the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, sponsored by Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky. The bill would provide $6.4 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster relief fund and $1.7 billion for disaster recovery programs at the Army Corps of Engineers in 2012.

A supporter, Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., said it would help repair "damages incurred from floods, tornadoes and hurricanes that have plagued much of the country during the spring and summer months."

The vote Dec. 17 was 72 yeas to 27 nays.

Gillibrand, Y; Schumer, Y.

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Offsetting Disaster Relief Spending -- The Senate rejected a resolution, sponsored by Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., that would have offset $8.1 billion of spending on disaster relief in fiscal 2012 by making a 1.83 percent across-the-board cut to all discretionary spending, except for the Defense Department, military construction programs and Veterans Affairs.

An opponent, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., said the resolution "sets a disruptive and dangerous precedent for forcing us to fund disasters in the years they occur" by making undifferentiated cuts to important programs.

The vote Dec. 17 was 43 yeas to 56 nays.

Gillibrand, N; Schumer, N.

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Omnibus Appropriations -- The Senate agreed to the conference report for the Omnibus Appropriations Act, originally sponsored by Rep. John Abney Culberson, R-Texas. The bill will fund military construction, Veterans Affairs, the Defense Department, Labor Department, Health and Human Services and various other agencies for fiscal year 2012.

A supporter, Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, said it "takes care of our men and women in uniform and their families, fully supports military readiness, protects the forces and maintains our technological edge," while also funding environmental protection, higher education and consumer safety.

An opponent, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said it "wasted billions and billions and billions of taxpayer money on projects that are unneeded, unwanted and unrequested."

The vote Dec. 17 was 67 yeas to 32 nays.

Gillibrand, Y; Schumer, Y.

Information for this column is supplied by Targeted News Service.