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WASHINGTON – Here are the recent votes of Western New York’s three members of the House of Representatives and the state’s two U.S. senators on major legislation in Congress. A “Y” means the member voted for the measure; an “N” means the member voted against he measure; an “A” means the member did not vote.

House

OBAMACARE AND CANCELLED HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS: The House passed the Keep Your Health Plan Act (H.R. 3350), sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich. The bill would allow health insurance companies to continue offering individual health insurance plans that were offered as of the beginning of 2013, notwithstanding the insurance plan requirements established by the health care reform law, also known as Obamacare.

Upton said the bill would uphold the promise that consumers could keep their health care plans after Obamacare took effect, preventing millions of consumers from losing their plans and having to buy new, more expensive plans mandated by Obamacare.

An opponent, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said the bill “creates an entire shadow market of substandard health care plans. It will destabilize the health insurance exchanges, raise premiums, and continue to allow insurers to discriminate on the basis of preexisting conditions.”

The vote, Nov. 15, was 261 yeas to 157 nays.

Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, Y; Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, N; Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, Y.

IMPROVING GOVERNMENT SPENDING REPORTS: The House passed the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (H.R. 2061), sponsored by Rep. Darrell E. Issa, R-Calif. The bill would expand requirements for government agencies to submit accurate data on their spending, to be provided to the public at USASpending.gov, limit agency spending on conferences and other events, and streamline reporting requirements for entities that receive government funding.

Issa said that by improving the government’s handling of data, the bill “will create the opportunity for government to be more efficient, more effective, and more transparent.”

The vote, Nov. 18, was 388 yeas to 1 nay.

Collins, Y; Higgins, Y; Reed, Y.

REVIEWING OIL, GAS PROJECTS ON FEDERAL LANDS: The House rejected an amendment, sponsored by Rep. Alan S. Lowenthal, D-Calif., to the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act (H.R. 1965). The amendment would have eliminated a bill provision expanding the Interior Department’s authority to grant categorical exclusions from the National Environmental Policy Act for certain proposed oil and natural gas developments on federal lands.

Lowenthal said the amendment would help protect the public and the environment by having Interior to consider issues such as public health impacts when reviewing proposed oil and gas developments.

An opponent, Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., said the amendment’s requirement for Interior to consider those issues would add uncertainty to the permitting process by creating more National Environmental Policy Act reviews of projects.

The vote, Wednesday, was 194 yeas to 228 nays.

Collins, N; Higgins, Y; Reed, N.

IMPACT OF FLOODING ON OIL, GAS FACILITIES: The House rejected an amendment, sponsored by Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., to the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act (H.R. 1965). The amendment would have required the National Academy of Sciences to report to Congress on the risk that flooding will cause leaks and spills from oil and natural gas tanks, wells, and pipelines.

Polis said the report “can help enhance our understanding of how to prevent damage to oil and gas infrastructure and avert spills and leaks in other communities.”

An opponent, Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., said the broad and vague language of the amendment meant it could apply to elements of U.S. energy infrastructure beyond those covered by the bill, diluting its effectiveness while increasing the cost of a report.

The vote, Wednesday, was 202 yeas to 221 nays.

Collins, N; Higgins, Y; Reed, N.

REGULATING ENERGY MARKETS: The House rejected an amendment, sponsored by Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., to the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act (H.R. 1965). The amendment would have dedicated $10 million of revenue generated by the bill to fund the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s efforts to regulate speculation in energy markets.

DeFazio said the funding would bring down gas prices by helping the CFTC police speculation and efforts to manipulate energy markets.

An opponent, Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., said there was no proof that speculators have increased energy prices, making the amendment a “costly and wasteful” effort to address a nonexistent problem.

The vote, Wednesday, was 195 yeas to 226 nays.

Collins, N; Higgins, Y; Reed, N.

ENERGY PROJECTS ON FEDERAL LANDS: The House passed the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act (H.R. 1965), sponsored by Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo. The bill would approve applications to drill for oil and natural gas on government lands within 60 days of receipt if the Interior Secretary has failed to issue a decision on an application and order the Secretary to streamline permitting processes for energy projects on the lands.

Lamborn said that by encouraging energy production on federal lands, the bill “will create new American jobs, promote energy and economic development, and increase revenues to the State and Federal governments.”

An opponent, Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., called the bill an effort “to make things easier for Big Oil while trying to ensure that conservation and hunting and fishing and recreation and renewables, and everything else that these Federal lands might be used for, has to take a back seat to drilling.”

The vote, Wednesday, was 228 yeas to 192 nays.

Collins, Y; Higgins, N; Reed, Y.

METHANE EMISSIONS FROM OIL, NATURAL GAS DRILLING: The House rejected an amendment, sponsored by Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., to the Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act (H.R. 2728). The amendment would have maintained the Interior Secretary’s authority to issue regulations for reducing the venting and flaring of methane from oil and natural gas drilling operations on public lands and to issue regulations for reducing fugitive methane emissions from drilling.

Holt said the regulations “will help prevent the wasteful leakage of natural gas, will limit avoidable methane emissions, and will protect air quality and public health.”

An opponent, Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., said the amendment conflicted with the bill’s intent of assigning states responsibility for regulating hydraulic fracturing operations within their borders, including methane emissions, and that Interior already had the authority to work with states to limit methane emissions on federal lands.

The vote, Wednesday, was 190 yeas to 230 nays.

Collins, N; Higgins, Y; Reed, N.

FEDERAL FRACKING REGULATIONS: The House passed the Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act (H.R. 2728), sponsored by Rep. Bill Flores, R-Texas. The bill would bar the Interior Department from enforcing federal regulations for hydraulic fracturing in any state that already has its own regulations of the process, overriding the state regulations, or enforcing hydraulic fracturing regulations on Indian trust lands without the consent of the party on whose behalf the land is held in trust.

Flores said: “There is no demonstrated need for the Federal Government to waste taxpayer money by duplicating and complicating State efforts. The only reason for the Federal Government to get involved is to placate those who oppose the shale energy revolution and the jobs boom that has come from it.”

An opponent, Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., said the bill failed “to address any of the concerns that families have legitimately about the impacts of fracking in their communities. Worse than that, the bill will strip existing protections in place across the entire Nation.”

The vote, Wednesday, was 235 yeas to 187 nays.

Collins, Y; Higgins, N; Reed, Y.

METHANE EMISSIONS FROM GAS PIPELINES: The House rejected an amendment, sponsored by Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., to the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act (H.R. 1900). The amendment would have required companies proposing to build natural gas pipelines to prove to regulators that their pipelines will utilize, to the extent practicable, methods to minimize methane emissions.

Tonko said the requirement would reduce climate change by cutting methane emissions, while also preventing waste by ensuring that methane is used and not vented to the atmosphere before it reaches consumers.

An opponent, Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., said the Environmental Protection Agency already had the authority to regulate methane emissions from pipelines, making the amendment unnecessary.

The vote, Thursday, was 183 yeas to 233 nays.

Collins, N; Higgins, Y; Reed, N.

DEADLINES FOR GAS PIPELINE PERMITTING: The House rejected an amendment, sponsored by Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., to the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act (H.R. 1900). The amendment would have eliminated the bill’s requirement for government agencies to make a final ruling on whether to approve or deny a natural gas pipeline within 90 days of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issuing its final environmental document for the pipeline.

Castor said the requirement would increase delays in building new pipelines and create a “greater likelihood of litigation that will delay our important natural gas infrastructure.”

An opponent, Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., said striking the requirement would increase regulatory uncertainty for the pipeline industry, making it harder for it to build out the pipeline capacity to keep up with production and demand for gas.

The vote, Thursday, was 184 yeas to 233 nays.

Collins, N; Higgins, Y; Reed, N.

LOCAL INPUT IN REVIEWING PLANNED GAS PIPELINES: The House rejected an amendment, sponsored by Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., to the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act (H.R. 1900). The amendment would have delayed the beginning of the schedule requiring regulatory decisions on natural gas pipelines until regulators have considered and responded to state and local objections or concerns about the pipelines.

Speier said that given the risk to public safety posed by gas pipelines, those who would live near the pipelines need to “be adequately considered and taken into account in the decisionmaking process on where to place potentially dangerous natural gas transmission lines.”

An opponent, Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., said the existing pipeline review process considered input from local communities, making the amendment unnecessary.

The vote, Thursday, was 183 yeas to 236 nays.

Collins, N; Higgins, Y; Reed, N.

PERMITTING NATURAL GAS PIPELINES: The House passed the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act (H.R. 1900), sponsored by Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan. The bill would require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to issue a ruling on whether a natural gas pipeline is necessary within 12 months of receiving an application to build the pipeline, and require other agencies to make a final ruling on whether to approve or deny the pipeline within 90 days of FERC issuing its final environmental document for the pipeline, with the pipeline deemed approved if a ruling has not been made within 90 days.

Pompeo said “the bill will give certainty to natural gas pipeline developers that invest in projects which could transport affordable energy to consumers” around the country, including those living in regions with relatively high natural gas prices due to a lack of pipelines serving the region.

An opponent, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said the bill “will have adverse health, safety, and environmental impacts” by forcing regulators to rush their reviews of proposed pipelines, with resulting damage to public acceptance of the pipelines.

The vote, Thursday, was 252 yeas to 165 nays.

Collins, Y; Higgins, N; Reed, Y.

Senate

D.C. APPEALS COURT JUDGE: The Senate rejected a motion to end debate on the nomination of Robert Leon Wilkins to serve as a U.S. judge on the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals. A supporter, Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., cited Wilkins’ three years of experience as a U.S. district judge for the District of Columbia and unanimously well qualified rating from the American Bar Association.

Cardin said Wilkins’ experience as district judge has involved reviewing issues such as election law, voting rights, environmental, securities, and administrative law cases, which means “he understands the responsibilities of the court that he has been nominated to by President Obama.”

An opponent, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said “we should not confirm any more judges to the D.C. Circuit, especially when those additional judges cost approximately $1 million per year per judge,” because the court does not handle enough cases to require more judges.

The vote, Nov. 18, was 53 yeas to 38 nays, with a three-fifths majority required to end debate.

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

TRANSFERRING GUANTANAMO BAY DETAINEES: The Senate rejected an amendment, sponsored by Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., to the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 1197). The amendment would have barred the government from transferring terrorist detainees at the military’s Guantanamo Bay facility in Cuba to Yemen and other countries.

Ayotte said Yemen was not able to keep terrorists from breaking out of its prisons, and allowing terrorist transfers would lead to the terrorists “getting back in the fight against us.”

An opponent, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said past terrorist transfers have not harmed U.S. security, and the more than $400 million annual expense of operating the Guantanamo Bay facility was not justified.

The vote, last Tuesday, was 43 yeas to 55 nays.

Gillibrand, N; Schumer, N.

RIGHTS OF GUANTAMO BAY DETAINEES: The Senate rejected an amendment, sponsored by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., to the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 1197). The amendment would have stated that detainees at the Guantanamo Bay facility would not gain any additional legal rights if they were transferred to the U.S.

Levin said transferring detainees to the U.S. would not increase security risks for Americans and would improve national security, clearing the way to close the wasteful and harmful Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

An opponent, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said the amendment could give suspected terrorists held in the U.S. constitutional rights, including the right to remain silent, with harmful impacts on U.S. security.

The vote, olast Tuesday, was 52 yeas to 46 nays, with a three-fifths majority required for approval.

Gillibrand, Y; Schumer, Y.

MOTION TO CONSIDER CIRCUIT JUDGE NOMINEE: The Senate approved a motion to reconsider the motion to invoke cloture and end debate on the nomination of Patricia Ann Millett to serve as a U.S. Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit.

A supporter of ending debate, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, said that by setting the precedent of allowing a bare majority of one-half of senators to approve cloture for votes on a president’s nominations, the motion would properly allow the president to “have the people who he or she wants to form their executive branch.”

An opponent, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said changing from the requirement that a supermajority of three-fifths of senators approve cloture for nomination votes would “remove one of the last meaningful checks on the President” via the authority of the Senate to review presidential nominations.

The vote, Thursday, was 57 yeas to 43 nays.

Gillibrand, Y; Schumer, Y.

CHANGING SENATE RULES: The Senate rejected a ruling by the Senate Chair finding that cloture votes by the Senate to end debate on presidential nominations for all positions other than the Supreme Court require a supermajority of three-fifths (60 votes) to win approval.

A supporter of the ruling, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said changing a precedent under which a two-thirds supermajority of senators was required to approve changes to Senate rules meant the Senate was “moving down a destructive path” by removing “an important check on majority overreach” and ignoring the long-standing precedent of minority rights in the Senate.

An opponent of the ruling, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said that allowing a bare majority of one-half (50 votes) to end debate on nominations was necessary because the current session of the Senate “has wasted an unprecedented amount of time on procedural hurdles and partisan obstruction” of nominations by the Republican party.

The vote to approve the ruling, on Thursday, was 48 yeas to 52 nays.

Gillibrand, N; Schumer, N.

SENATE DEBATE RULE: The Senate sustained a ruling by the Chair finding that cloture votes by the Senate to end debate on presidential nominations for all positions other than the Supreme Court require a bare majority of one-half (50 votes) to win approval.

A supporter of the ruling, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said ending the rule under which a three-fifths majority of senators must vote to end debate would end a recent pattern of gridlock in the Senate that has harmed the U.S. economy and national security.

An opponent of the ruling, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said ending the rule would be a permanent change to the role of the Senate as a check on the president, and that allowing a bare majority of senators to change Senate rules would “destroy the very unique aspects of this institution called the Senate.”

The vote, Thursday, was 52 yeas to 48 nays.

Gillibrand, Y; Schumer, Y.

D.C. CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE: The Senate approved a motion to end debate on the nomination of Patricia Ann Millett to serve as a U.S. Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit.

A supporter, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., cited Millett’s 11 years of experience as an official in the Solicitor General’s office, unanimously well qualified rating from the American Bar Association, and experience arguing 32 cases before the Supreme Court in her current position as co-head of the Supreme Court and appellate practice at the Akin Gump law firm.

An opponent, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said the D.C. Circuit Court did not need an additional judge at this time, given that the court’s caseload is low and each additional judgeship costs $1 million annually.

Grassley also said the nomination of Millett was an effort by President Obama “to stack the court and to upset the current makeup simply in order to obtain favorable judicial outcomes” in the face of opposition to his administration’s actions from Congress.

The vote, Thursday, was 55 yeas to 43 nays.

Gillibrand, Y; Schumer, Y.

MILITARY SPENDING BILL: The Senate rejected a motion to end debate on the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 1197), sponsored by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.

The bill would authorize fiscal 2014 funding for the military, including the Defense Department, military construction projections, and defense-related activities of the Energy Department.

Levin said that with current funding for the military about to expire, ending debate was necessary to move forward with a bill to provide for national defense, pay troops in combat, and a range of critical military programs.

An opponent of ending debate, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said senators have not been able to vote on hundreds of bill amendments that would reform and improve the military.

The vote, Thursday, was 51 yeas to 44 nays, with a three-fifths majority required to end debate.

Gillibrand, Y; Schumer, Y.

Targeted News Service