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TMCNet:  Congressional Votes for Oklahoma the Week of 02/21 - 02/27/2014

[March 01, 2014]

Congressional Votes for Oklahoma the Week of 02/21 - 02/27/2014

(Targeted News Service Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) by TARGETED NEWS SERVICE Targeted News Service WASHINGTON, March 1 -- There were five key votes in the Senate this week; there were 12 key votes in the House. The Senate voted 12 times in the week ending Thursday; the House voted 23 times. The most important Senate vote was to sustain a budget point of order against a bill to increase benefits for military veterans. The most important House vote was to pass a bill to allow consumers to unlock their cell phones and change carriers.


The Senate, on voice vote, also passed the National Integrated Drought Information System Reauthorization Act (H.R. 2431), sponsored by Rep. Ralph M. Hall, R-Texas, to authorize $13.5 million of annual funding for the National Integrated Drought Information System through fiscal 2018 and direct the System to work with other federal agencies and state and local governments to communicate drought forecasts and information about drought conditions.

The House, on voice votes, also passed the Taxpayer Transparency Act (H.R. 3308), sponsored by Rep. Billy Long, R-Mo., to require advertising funded by federal agencies to include notices indicating that the advertising was produced at taxpayer expense; passed the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (H.R. 1232), sponsored by Rep. Darrell E. Issa, R-Calif., to eliminate duplication and waste in government information technology acquisition and management; passed the Protecting Taxpayers from Intrusive IRS Requests Act (H.R. 2531), sponsored by Rep. Peter J. Roskam, R-Ill., to prohibit the Internal Revenue Service from asking taxpayers questions about their religious, political, or social beliefs; and passed the Taxpayers Right-To-Know Act (H.R. 1423), sponsored by Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., to require the production of annual reports providing the public with information disclosing the cost and performance of government programs and areas of duplication among them.

Here's a look at how area members of Congress voted over the previous week.

HOUSE VOTES: House Vote 1: GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY: The House has passed the FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act (H.R. 1211), sponsored by Rep. Darrell E. Issa, R-Calif. The bill would amend the Freedom of Information Act to make government information and documents more easily available to the public, in part by adopting a standard that presumes government agencies should make information available and can withhold information only if its release would cause foreseeable harm. Issa said: "It is critical at this time that the American people believe and actually receive the information that lets them understand what their government is doing." The vote, on Feb. 25, was unanimous with 410 yeas.

YEAS: Rep. Jim Bridenstine R-OK (1st), Rep. Tom Cole R-OK (4th), Rep. James Lankford R-OK (5th), Rep. Frank D. Lucas R-OK (3rd), Rep. Markwayne Mullin R-OK (2nd) House Vote 2: UNLOCKING CELL PHONES: The House has passed the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act (H.R. 1123), sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. The bill would strike down a 2012 rule issued by the Librarian of Congress as head of the Copyright Office that made it illegal for cell phone owners to switch carriers for their phones by unlocking their phones. Goodlatte said the change was needed to allow consumers "to go to a kiosk in the mall, get help from a neighbor, or see a wireless carrier to help unlock their cell phone without any risk of legal penalties." An opponent, Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., said a bill provision implying that the bulk unlocking of cell phones may be illegal would make it difficult for companies to market unlocked phones to consumers. The vote, on Feb. 25, was 295 yeas to 114 nays.

YEAS: Rep. James Lankford R-OK (5th), Rep. Frank D. Lucas R-OK (3rd), Rep. Markwayne Mullin R-OK (2nd) NAYS: Rep. Jim Bridenstine R-OK (1st), Rep. Tom Cole R-OK (4th) House Vote 3: EMINENT DOMAIN AND PROPERTY RIGHTS: The House has passed the Private Property Rights Protection Act (H.R. 1944), sponsored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner Jr., R-Wis. The bill would withhold, for two years, economic development funding from the federal government to any state that uses its power of eminent domain to promote economic development on private property that has been seized on behalf of a developer. Sensenbrenner said the threat of withholding economic development funding was needed to help preserve private property rights for all Americans and limit the dangerous effects the Supreme Court's decision in the Kelo v. City of New London will have on property owners that lack the resources to challenge eminent domain seizures by states. An opponent of the bill, Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., said 43 of the 50 states have already addressed eminent domain concerns on their own, "and we should respect their judgment rather than impose this awkward, one-size-fits-all federal legislative response" proposed by the bill. The vote, on Feb. 26, was 353 yeas to 65 nays.

YEAS: Rep. Jim Bridenstine R-OK (1st), Rep. Tom Cole R-OK (4th), Rep. James Lankford R-OK (5th), Rep. Frank D. Lucas R-OK (3rd), Rep. Markwayne Mullin R-OK (2nd) House Vote 4: TAX STATUS OF SOCIAL WELFARE GROUPS: The House has passed the Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act (H.R. 3865), sponsored by Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich. The bill would bar the Internal Revenue Service from changing its standard for determining whether a group seeking tax-exempt status is operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare. Camp cited reports that the IRS has targeted for investigation conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, and recently proposed new IRS rules that would put social welfare organizations under unprecedented scrutiny for engaging in nonpartisan political activity. Therefore, Camp said, the bill was needed to "ensure that Treasury does not rush this rule into effect this year, allows the ongoing investigations to issue findings on the targeting, helps us to stop the IRS' targeting of taxpayers based on their personal beliefs, and is a commonsense step to preserve these groups' ability to engage in public debate." An opponent of the bill, Rep. Sander M. Levin, D-Mich., called it "a totally political bill in an attempt to resurrect an alleged scandal that never existed," as the IRS investigated both liberal and conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. The vote, on Feb. 26, was 243 yeas to 176 nays.

YEAS: Rep. Jim Bridenstine R-OK (1st), Rep. Tom Cole R-OK (4th), Rep. James Lankford R-OK (5th), Rep. Frank D. Lucas R-OK (3rd), Rep. Markwayne Mullin R-OK (2nd) House Vote 5: SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS AND THE IRS: The House has rejected an amendment sponsored by Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., to the Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act (H.R. 3865). The amendment would have changed the title of the bill to the Protect Anonymous Special Interests Act, and stated that the bill was intended "to protect anonymous special interests by prohibiting the Internal Revenue Service from modifying the standard for determining whether an organization is operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare." There was no debate on the amendment. The vote, on Feb. 26, was 177 yeas to 241 nays.

NAYS: Rep. Jim Bridenstine R-OK (1st), Rep. Tom Cole R-OK (4th), Rep. James Lankford R-OK (5th), Rep. Frank D. Lucas R-OK (3rd), Rep. Markwayne Mullin R-OK (2nd) House Vote 6: JOBS IMPACT OF REGULATIONS: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Keith J. Rothfus, R-Pa., to the All Economic Regulations are Transparent Act (H.R. 2804). The amendment would create tighter requirements for the review and public scrutiny of any rule or regulation estimated to reduce employment or wages in a given industry by at least 1 percent. Rothfus said the requirements would force agency officials to take greater responsibility and give greater consideration to the economic harm potentially caused by their proposed rules and regulations. An opponent of the bill, Rep. Hank Johnson Jr., D-Ga., said rather than stifling job creation, evidence suggested that "if anything, regulations can promote job growth and put Americans back to work" by improving public health and safety. The vote, on Feb. 27, was 249 yeas to 162 nays.

YEAS: Rep. Jim Bridenstine R-OK (1st), Rep. Tom Cole R-OK (4th), Rep. James Lankford R-OK (5th), Rep. Frank D. Lucas R-OK (3rd), Rep. Markwayne Mullin R-OK (2nd) House Vote 7: REGULATING AIR QUALITY AND WATER QUALITY: The House has rejected an amendment sponsored by Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va., to the All Economic Regulations are Transparent Act (H.R. 2804). The amendment would have exempted proposed rules for air quality and water quality from the bill's requirements for government agencies to provide information about the economic impact of their rules. Connolly said the exemption would allow the agencies to work to ensure "safe drinking water, reliable child car safety seats, clean air, and countless other protections." An opponent of the amendment, Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., said the exemption was not a good idea because "federal air and water regulations have been the source of many of the most abusive, unnecessarily expensive, and job- and wage-destroying regulations in American history." The vote, on Feb. 27, was 181 yeas to 235 nays.

NAYS: Rep. Jim Bridenstine R-OK (1st), Rep. Tom Cole R-OK (4th), Rep. James Lankford R-OK (5th), Rep. Frank D. Lucas R-OK (3rd), Rep. Markwayne Mullin R-OK (2nd) House Vote 8: REGULATING COMBUSTIBLE DUST IN WORKPLACE: The House has rejected an amendment sponsored by Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., to the All Economic Regulations are Transparent Act (H.R. 2804). The amendment would have exempted proposed rules from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, intended to prevent combustible dust explosions and fires in the workplace, from the bill's requirements for government agencies to provide information about the economic impact of their rules. Miller said "it has been abundantly clear for a decade that Federal regulatory action is needed to prevent combustible dust explosions and fires," and the exemption would allow OSHA to progress on its efforts to prevent explosions and fires of combustible dust. An opponent of the amendment, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said the exemption would clear the way for OSHA to adopt excessive regulations that impose unnecessary costs without improving workplace safety. The vote, on Feb. 27, was 183 yeas to 229 nays.

NAYS: Rep. Jim Bridenstine R-OK (1st), Rep. Tom Cole R-OK (4th), Rep. James Lankford R-OK (5th), Rep. Frank D. Lucas R-OK (3rd), Rep. Markwayne Mullin R-OK (2nd) House Vote 9: INFORMING PUBLIC OF PROPOSED REGULATIONS: The House has passed the All Economic Regulations are Transparent Act (H.R. 2804), sponsored by Rep. George Holding, R-N.C. The bill would require the government's Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to monthly publish on the Internet information about the estimated cost of rules and regulations proposed by various federal agencies. Holding said making the information available to the public online was "comprehensive reform that promotes economic growth and takes steps toward reform of the regulatory system to provide the government accountability that our citizens deserve." An opponent of the bill, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, criticized the delay imposed by a provision keeping any rule from taking effect until information about it has been online for at least six months. Jackson Lee said the bill's requirements would prevent agencies "from performing their statutory responsibilities to protect the public health and safety." The vote, on Feb. 27, was 236 yeas to 179 nays.

YEAS: Rep. Jim Bridenstine R-OK (1st), Rep. Tom Cole R-OK (4th), Rep. James Lankford R-OK (5th), Rep. Frank D. Lucas R-OK (3rd), Rep. Markwayne Mullin R-OK (2nd) House Vote 10: IMPACTS OF PROPOSED FINANCIAL RULES: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. E. Scott Rigell, R-Va., to the Consumer Financial Protection Safety and Soundness Improvement Act (H.R. 3193). The amendment would require the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to analyze the impacts its proposed rules and regulations would have on the financial industry as well as access to credit by consumers and small businesses, with the analyses to be made public. Rigell said the amendment would increase public accountability at the Bureau and force it to consider whether its actions will hurt the ability of businesses to access credit to fund their growth. An opponent of the amendment, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said the amendment was unnecessary because the Bureau "is already required to perform cost-benefit analysis on its rules and evaluate impacts on small businesses." The vote, on Feb. 27, was 250 yeas to 167 nays.

YEAS: Rep. Jim Bridenstine R-OK (1st), Rep. Tom Cole R-OK (4th), Rep. James Lankford R-OK (5th), Rep. Frank D. Lucas R-OK (3rd), Rep. Markwayne Mullin R-OK (2nd) House Vote 11: AUTHORITY OVER FINANCIAL REGULATIONS: The House has passed an amendment sponsored by Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., to the Consumer Financial Protection Safety and Soundness Improvement Act (H.R. 3193). The amendment would strike a provision of the law giving the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau exclusive authority to make rules affecting the financial industry. DeSantis said removing the Bureau's exclusive authority would improve judicial and legislative oversight to ensure that the Bureau is accountable to other parts of the governments for its actions. An opponent of the amendment, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said the Bureau needed to have exclusive authority because the prior system of multiple regulatory agencies cooperating on regulations created a lack of accountability that helped cause the 2007-2009 financial crisis. The vote, on Feb. 27, was 227 yeas to 186 nays.

YEAS: Rep. Jim Bridenstine R-OK (1st), Rep. Tom Cole R-OK (4th), Rep. James Lankford R-OK (5th), Rep. Frank D. Lucas R-OK (3rd) NOT VOTING: Rep. Markwayne Mullin R-OK (2nd) House Vote 12: ORGANIZATION OF CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU: The House has passed the Consumer Financial Protection Safety and Soundness Improvement Act (H.R. 3193), sponsored by Rep. Sean P. Duffy, R-Wis. The bill would change leadership of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection from a single director to a five-member bipartisan board, have Congress rather than the Federal Reserve fund the Bureau, and increase oversight by the Financial Stability Oversight Council of the Bureau's regulations. Duffy said the changes would increase accountability and transparency for the Bureau's actions and decrease the ability of large banks to overturn the Bureau's rules. An opponent of the bill, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said its changes would hurt the Bureau's efforts "to protect consumers from deceptive marketing, unlawful debt collection, lending discrimination, overcharge fees, and other illegal activity. The bill does so by undermining CFPB's leadership, ending its autonomy, and tying its funding to Congressional appropriations." The vote, on Feb. 27, was 232 yeas to 182 nays.

YEAS: Rep. Jim Bridenstine R-OK (1st), Rep. Tom Cole R-OK (4th), Rep. James Lankford R-OK (5th), Rep. Frank D. Lucas R-OK (3rd), Rep. Markwayne Mullin R-OK (2nd) SENATE VOTES: Senate Vote 1: CONNECTICUT DISTRICT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Jeffrey Alker Meyer to serve as a U.S. District Judge for the District of Connecticut. A supporter, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., cited Meyer's 10 years of experience as a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Connecticut, 14 years of experience as a visiting professor at Yale, and previous experience as a lawyer for Vermont Legal Aid and an associate at two Washington, D.C., law firms. Blumenthal said Meyer "aptly and abundantly meets the test for serving as a U.S. district court judge: His background in litigation; his experience in actually trying cases; his background as an academic, in thinking through some of the toughest issues of the law and teaching others how to do it, how to actually be a lawyer; and, of course, his judgment and his sense of perspective and, most importantly, his integrity." The vote, on Feb. 24, was 91 yeas to 2 nays.

YEAS: Sen. James M. Inhofe R-OK NAYS: Sen. Tom Coburn R-OK Senate Vote 2: ARKANSAS DISTRICT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of James Maxwell Moody, Jr., to serve as a U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Arkansas. A supporter, Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., cited Moody's unanimously well qualified rating from the American Bar Association and 11 years of experience as a judge on Arkansas's Sixth Judicial Circuit, in which role he has presided over more than a thousand cases. Pryor said: "He is highly qualified, completely noncontroversial, stellar across the board, and meets every criteria anyone could ever have." The vote, on Feb. 25, was 95 yeas to 4 nays.

YEAS: Sen. Tom Coburn R-OK, Sen. James M. Inhofe R-OK Senate Vote 3: CONFIRMING NORTHERN CALIFORNIA DISTRICT JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of James Donato to serve as a U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of California. A supporter, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., cited Donato's over two decades of experience as a private lawyer at two law firms, specializing in antitrust claims and other complex civil cases, which Feinstein said has prepared Donato to hear cases in a district 84 percent of whose cases are civil. Feinstein said: "I have great confidence Mr. Donato will be an outstanding federal district judge." The vote, on Feb. 25, was 90 yeas to 5 nays.

YEAS: Sen. Tom Coburn R-OK, Sen. James M. Inhofe R-OK Senate Vote 4: NORTHERN CALIFORNIA JUDGE: The Senate has confirmed the nomination of Beth Labson Freeman to serve as a U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of California. A supporter, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., cited Freeman's 12 years of experience as a judge on the San Mateo County Superior Court, in which time "she has presided over more than a thousand trials, and she has experience in both civil and criminal cases," as well as Freeman's 18 years of previous experience in the San Mateo County Counsel's Office. The vote, on Feb. 25, was 91 yeas to 7 nays.

YEAS: Sen. Tom Coburn R-OK NAYS: Sen. James M. Inhofe R-OK Senate Vote 5: BUDGET RULES AND VETERANS BENEFITS: The Senate has rejected a motion to waive a budget point of order for a bill (S. 1982), sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, ID-Vt., that would expand health care programs for military veterans, allow veterans to receive in-state tuition rates at all universities and colleges, and provide advanced appropriations for the Department of Veterans Affairs. A supporter of the point of order, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said the bill relied on the budgetary gimmick that it was paid for by offsetting cuts in spending on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that it would exceed statutory budget spending authority for the 2014 fiscal year. Sanders, who opposed the point of order, said the spending offset was supported by the Congressional Budget Office, and that the spending on health care for veterans was necessary "to protect the needs of men and women who made enormous sacrifices defending our country." The vote, on Feb. 27, was 56 yeas to 41 nays, with a three-fifths majority required to waive the motion.

NAYS: Sen. Tom Coburn R-OK, Sen. James M. Inhofe R-OK For more information about Targeted News Service, please contact Myron Struck, editor, 703/866-4708, editor@targetednews.com; for technical questions about transmission or for retransmissions, please contact Kevin Meek, kevin@targetednews.com.

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