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Following are the U.S. Senate votes used to indicate candidates' stances on the issues. Votes which include "VoteMatch Usage" are scored as VoteMatch and SenateMatch quiz responses. Those without a VoteMatch usage are included only on each candidate's main issues page.
Abortion
Senate BillVote descriptionVoteMatch UsageCandidate Voting
Vote number 2009-S081 restricting UN funding for population control policies
on Mar 5, 2009 regarding bill S.Amdt.607 to H.R.1105 Wicker Amdt.
Results: Failed 39-55
Congressional Summary:To require that amounts appropriated for the United Nations Population Fund are not used by organizations which support coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Sen. WICKER (R-MS): This amendment with one issue and one issue only--whether US taxpayer dollars will be provided to help fund coercive population control policies, such as China's one-child policy--a policy that relies on coerced abortion and forced sterilization. Specifically, this pro-child, pro-family, pro-woman amendment would restore the Kemp-Kasten antipopulation control provision, which has been a fundamental part of our foreign policy for almost a quarter century. As it has always done, Kemp-Kasten allows the President to certify that funds are not used for coercive family practices. My amendment is needed because the underlying bill reverses this longstanding provision.

Sen. COBURN (R-OK): I stand in the corner of pro-life. But I want to debate this issue as if I were pro-choice. If we believe that women have a right to choose, why in the world would we send money to UNFP that is going to take that right away from women in other countries? You can't be on both sides of this issue. Either you believe in a woman's right to choose or you do not. Or you only believe in a woman's right to choose in America, and because the Chinese have too many people, you don't think that same human right ought to be given to women in China. There is no question that UNFP will mix this money, and we will fund forced abortions in China. [Without this amendment] American taxpayer dollars are going to go to China to enforce coercive abortion against the will of women and force sterilization against the will of women in China.

Opponent's argument to vote No:None spoke against the amendment.

Voting NO counts for 1 points on VoteMatch question 1:
Abortion is a woman's right;
Voting YES counts for -1 points on VoteMatch question 1.

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 2; NO 43
Republicans: YES 28; NO 2
Independents: YES 1; NO 1
Vote number 08-S081 defining unborn child as eligible for SCHIP
on Mar 14, 2008 regarding bill S.Amdt.4233 to S.Con.Res.70
Results: Amendment rejected, 46-52
CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: To require that legislation to reauthorize SCHIP include provisions codifying the unborn child regulation. Amends the definition of the term "targeted low-income child" to provide that such term includes the period from conception to birth, for eligibility for child health assistance.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. ALLARD: This amendment will codify the current unborn child rule by amending the SCHIP reauthorization reserve fund. This amendment will clarify in statute that the term "child" includes the period from conception to birth. This is a pro-life vote.OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO: Sen. FEINSTEIN: We already clarified SCHIP law that a pregnant woman's coverage under SCHIP law is optional. We made it obligatory so every pregnant woman has the advantage of medical insurance. This amendment undoes that. It takes it away from the woman and gives it to the fetus. Now, if a pregnant woman is in an accident, loses the child, she does not get coverage, the child gets coverage. We already solved the problem. If you cover the pregnant woman, you cover her fetus. What Senator Allard does is remove the coverage from the pregnant woman and cover the fetus.LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment rejected, 46-52

Voting NO counts for 1 points on VoteMatch question 1:
Abortion is a woman's right;
Voting YES counts for -1 points on VoteMatch question 1.

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 2; NO 38
Republicans: YES 27; NO 3
Independents: YES 1; NO 1
Vote number 08-S071 prohibiting minors crossing state lines for abortion
on Mar 13, 2008 regarding bill S.Amdt.4335 to S.Con.Res.70
Results: Amendment rejected, 49-49 (1/2 required)
CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: To increase funding for the vigorous enforcement of a prohibition against taking minors across State lines in circumvention of laws requiring the involvement of parents in abortion decisions consistent with the Child Custody Protection Act.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. ENSIGN: This amendment enables enforcing the Child Custody Protection Act, which passed the Senate in a bipartisan fashion by a vote of 65 to 34. Too many times we enact laws, and we do not fund them. This is going to set up funding so the law that says we are going to protect young children from being taken across State lines to have a surgical abortion--we are going to make sure those people are protected. OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Sen. BOXER: We already voted for $50 million to enhance the enforcement of child protective laws. If Sen. Ensign's bill becomes law, then that money is already there to be used for such a program. LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment rejected, 49-49 (1/2 required, or 50 votes; Sen. Byrd & Sen. McCain absent)

Voting NO counts for 2 points on VoteMatch question 1:
Abortion is a woman's right;
Voting YES counts for -2 points on VoteMatch question 1.

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 5; NO 35
Republicans: YES 26; NO 3
Independents: YES 1; NO 1

Budget & Economy
Senate BillVote descriptionVoteMatch UsageCandidate Voting
Vote number 2009-S254 $192B additional anti-recession stimulus spending
on Jul 30, 2009 regarding bill H.R. 3357 Omnibus Appropriations Act Amendment
Results: Passed 79-17
    Congressional Summary:
  • $7 billion Increase in Fund balance appropriation (without fiscal year limitation).
  • With respect to the Unemployment Trust Fund and to the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund: Removes the FY2010 limitation as well as the specific dollar amount for such advances, replacing them with such appropriations as may be necessary.
  • Increases from $315 billion to $400 billion the maximum loan principal for FY2009 commitments to guarantee single family loans insured under the Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund (MMIF).
  • Increases from $300 billion to $400 billion the limit on new Government National Mortgage Association (GNMA or Ginnie Mae) commitments to issue guarantees under the Mortgage-Backed Securities Loan Guarantee Program.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. LEWIS (D, GA-5): This bipartisan bill will provide the necessary funds to keep important transportation projects operating in States around the country. The Highway Trust Fund will run out of funding by September. We must act, and we must act now.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. CAMP (R, MI-4): [This interim spending is] needed because the Democrats' economic policy has resulted in record job loss, record deficits, and none of the job creation they promised. Democrats predicted unemployment would top out at 8% if the stimulus passed; instead, it's 9.5% and rising. In Michigan, it's above 15%. The Nation's public debt and unemployment, combined, has risen by a shocking 40% [because of] literally trillions of dollars in additional spending under the Democrats' stimulus, energy, and health plans.

We had a choice when it came to the stimulus last February. We could have chosen a better policy of stimulating private-sector growth creating twice the jobs at half the price. That was the Republican plan. Instead, Democrats insisted on their government focus plan, which has produced no jobs and a mountain of debt.

(Not used in VoteMatch)

Voting YES counts as answer D on AmericansElect question 1;
Voting NO counts as answer A on AmericansElect question 1.
Democrats: YES 45; NO 0
Republicans: YES 17; NO 14
Independents: YES 2; NO 0
Vote number 2009-S185 modifying bankruptcy rules to avoid mortgage foreclosures
on May 6, 2009 regarding bill HR1106&S896 Helping Families Save Their Homes Act
Results: Passed 91-5
Congressional Summary:Amends federal bankruptcy law to exclude debts secured by the debtor's principal residence that was either sold in foreclosure or surrendered to the creditor.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. PETER WELCH (D, VT-0): Citigroup supports this bill. Why? They're a huge lender. They understand that we have to stabilize home values in order to begin the recovery, and they need a tool to accomplish it. Mortgages that have been sliced and diced into 50 different sections make it impossible even for a mortgage company and a borrower to come together to resolve the problem that they share together.

Sen. DICK DURBIN (D, IL): 8.1 million homes face foreclosure in America today. Last year, I offered this amendment to change the bankruptcy law, and the banking community said: Totally unnecessary. In fact, the estimates were of only 2 million homes in foreclosure last year. America is facing a crisis.

Opponent's argument to vote No:

Sen. JON KYL (R, AZ): This amendment would allow bankruptcy judges to modify home mortgages by lowering the principal and interest rate on the loan or extending the term of the loan. The concept in the trade is known as cram-down. It would apply to all borrowers who are 60 days or more delinquent. Many experts believe the cram-down provision would result in higher interest rates for all home mortgages. We could end up exacerbating this situation for all the people who would want to refinance or to take out loans in the future.

Rep. MICHELE BACHMANN (R, MN-6): Of the foundational policies of American exceptionalism, the concepts that have inspired our great Nation are the sanctity of private contracts and upholding the rule of law. This cramdown bill crassly undercuts both of these pillars of American exceptionalism. Why would a lender make a 30-year loan if they fear the powers of the Federal Government will violate the very terms of that loan?

(Not used in VoteMatch)

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 44; NO 0
Republicans: YES 29; NO 3
Independents: YES 2; NO 0
Vote number 2009-S061 additional $825 billion for economic recovery package
on Feb 10, 2009 regarding bill H.R.1 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
Results: Passed 61-37
Congressional Summary:Supplemental appropriations for job preservation and creation, infrastructure investment, energy efficiency and science, assistance to the unemployed, and State and local fiscal stabilization, for fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2009.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. DAVID OBEY (D, WI-7): This country is facing what most economists consider to be the most serious and the most dangerous economic situation in our lifetimes. This package today is an $825 billion package that does a variety of things to try to reinflate the economy:

  1. creating or saving at least 4 million jobs
  2. rebuilding our basic infrastructure
  3. providing for job retraining for those workers who need to learn new skills
  4. moving toward energy independence
  5. improving our healthcare system so all Americans can have access to quality treatment
  6. providing tax cuts to lessen the impact of this crisis on America's working families.

Opponent's argument to vote No:

Rep. JERRY LEWIS (R, CA-51): Most of us would agree that the recent $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) is an illustration of how good intentions don't always deliver desired results. When Congress spends too much too quickly, it doesn't think through the details and oversight becomes more difficult. The lesson learned from TARP was this: we cannot manage what we do not measure. We cannot afford to make the same mistake again.

Sen. THAD COCHRAN (R, MS): We are giving the executive branch immense latitude in the disbursement of the spending this bill contains. We are doing so without any documentation of how this spending will stimulate the economy. Normally, this kind of information would be contained in an administration budget. For items that have a short-term stimulative effect, most of us will feel comfortable debating their merits as an emergency measure. But there is a great deal of spending that is not immediately stimulative.

(Not used in VoteMatch)

Voting YES counts as answer D on AmericansElect question 1;
Voting NO counts as answer A on AmericansElect question 1.
Democrats: YES 47; NO 0
Republicans: YES 2; NO 30
Independents: YES 1; NO 1
Vote number 2008-S206 $60B stimulus package for jobs, infrastructure, & energy
on Sep 26, 2008 regarding bill S.3604&HR7110 Job Creation and Unemployment Relief Act
Results: Failed 52-42 (3/5ths required)
Congressional Summary:
    Supplemental appropriations for:
  1. Infrastructure Investments: Transportation: DOT, FAA, AMTRAK, and FTA
  2. Clean Water (EPA)
  3. Flood Control and Water Resources (ACE)
  4. 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities (ED)
  5. Energy Development (DOE)
  6. Extension of Unemployment Compensation and Job Training
  7. Temporary Increase in Medicaid Matching Rate
  8. Temporary Increase in Food Assistance

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. DAVID OBEY (D, WI-7): Congress has tried to do a number of things that would alleviate the squeeze on the middle class. Meanwhile, this economy is sagging. Jobs, income, sales, and industrial production have all gone down. We have lost 600,000 jobs. We are trying to provide a major increase in investments to modernize our infrastructure and to provide well-paying construction jobs at the same time.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. JERRY LEWIS (R, CA-41): Just 2 days ago we were debating an $800 billion continuing resolution. Now in addition to being asked to pay for a bailout for Wall Street, taxpayers are being asked to swallow an additional $60 billion on a laundry list of items I saw for the first time just a few hours ago. The Democratic majority is describing this legislation as a "stimulus package" to help our national economy. But let's not fool ourselves. This is a political document pure and simple. If these priorities are so important, why hasn't this bill gone through the normal legislative process? We should have debated each of the items included in this package.

It doesn't take an economist to tell you that the economy needs our help. But what does this Congress do? It proposes to spend billions more without any offsets in spending. The failure to adhere to PAYGO means that this new spending will be financed through additional borrowing, which will prove a further drag on our struggling economy.

(Not used in VoteMatch)

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 38; NO 1
Republicans: YES 2; NO 26
Independents: YES 1; NO 1

Civil Rights
Senate BillVote descriptionVoteMatch UsageCandidate Voting
Vote number 2006-189 recommending Constitutional ban on flag desecration
on Jun 27, 2006 regarding bill S.J.Res.12 Flag Desecration Amendment
Results: Resolution failed, 66-34 (2/3rds required)
The Senate voted on a resolution which would recommend a Constitutional Amendment banning flag desecration (not a vote on the Amendment itself). The resolution states:
  1. the flag of the US is a unique symbol of national unity...
  2. the Bill of Rights should not be amended in a manner that could be interpreted to restrict freedom...
  3. abuse of the flag causes more than pain and distress... and may amount to fighting words...
  4. destruction of the flag of the US can be intended to incite a violent response rather than make a political statement and such conduct is outside the protections afforded by the first amendment to the Constitution.
    Proponents of the Resolution say:
  • Fifty State legislatures have called on us to pass this amendment. This amendment simply says that "Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States."
  • In other words, in passing this amendment, we would give to Congress the power that the Supreme Court took away in 1989.
  • 48 States had anti-desecration measures on the books before 1989. It was then that five unelected judges told those 48 sovereign entities that they were wrong.
    Opponents of the Resolution say:
  • I am deeply offended when people burn or otherwise abuse this precious national symbol.
  • I also believe that the values and beliefs that the American flag represents are more important than the cloth from which this symbol was created.
  • Prominent among these beliefs are the right to voice views that are unpopular, and the right to protest.
  • I oppose this amendment not because I condone desecration of our flag, but because I celebrate the values our flag represents. Flag burning is despicable. However, the issue is whether we should amend our great charter document, the Constitution, to proscribe it.
  • Is this a problem needing such strong medicine? Are we facing an epidemic of flag burnings?
Voting YES counts for 1 points on VoteMatch question 4:
Teacher-led prayer in public schools;
Voting NO counts for -1 points on VoteMatch question 4.

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 14; NO 22
Republicans: YES 33; NO 3
Independents: YES 1; NO 1

Corporations
Senate BillVote descriptionVoteMatch UsageCandidate Voting
Vote number 2005-63 repealing tax subsidy for companies which move US jobs offshore
on Mar 17, 2005 regarding bill S AMDT 210 to S Con Res 18 Tax Subsidy for Domestic Companies Amendment
Results: Amendment Rejected, 40-59
Amendment to repeal the tax subsidy for certain domestic companies which move manufacturing operations and American jobs offshore. (Not used in VoteMatch)

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 31; NO 5
Republicans: YES 0; NO 36
Independents: YES 0; NO 2

Crime
Senate BillVote descriptionVoteMatch UsageCandidate Voting
Vote number 2007-110 reinstating $1.15 billion funding for the COPS Program
on Mar 23, 2007 regarding bill S.Amdt.529 on S.Con.Res.21 Biden Amendment
Results: Amendment agreed to, 65-33
Amendment would increase funding for the COPS Program to $1.15 billion for FY 2008 to provide state and local law enforcement with critical resources. The funding is offset by an unallocated reduction to non-defense discretionary spending.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

This amendment reinstates the COPS Program. I remind everyone, when the COPS Program was functioning, violent crime in America reduced 8.5% a year for 7 years in a row. Throughout the 1990s, we funded the COPS Program at roughly $1.2 billion, and it drove down crime. Now crime is rising again. The COPS Program in the crime bill worked, and the Government Accounting Office found a statistical link between the COPS grants and a reduction in crime. The Brookings Institution reported the COPS Program is one of the most cost-effective programs we have ever had in this country. Local officials urgently need this support.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

The COPS Program has some history. It was started by President Clinton. He asked for 100,000 police officers. He said that when we got to 100,000, the program would stop. We got to 110,000 police officers and the program continues on and on and on.

This program should have ended 5 years ago or 6 years ago, but it continues. It is similar to so many Federal programs that get constituencies that go on well past what their original purpose was. It may be well intentioned, but we cannot afford it and we shouldn't continue it. It was never thought it would be continued this long.

Voting NO counts for 1 points on VoteMatch question 9:
Mandatory "Three Strikes" Sentencing Laws;
Voting YES counts for -1 points on VoteMatch question 9.

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 40; NO 0
Republicans: YES 11; NO 18
Independents: YES 1; NO 1

Drugs

No recent bills in this category

Education
Senate BillVote descriptionVoteMatch UsageCandidate Voting
Vote number 2007-391 additional $10.2B for federal education & HHS projects
on Oct 23, 2007 regarding bill H.R. 3043 American Competitiveness Scholarship Act
Results: Bill Passed, 75-19
Vote on the passage of the bill, the American Competitiveness Scholarship Act, the omnibus appropriations bill for the Departments of Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor. Pres. Bush then vetoed the Bill.

Proponents support voting YES because:

Rep. OBEY: This bill, more than any other, determines how willing we are to make the investment necessary to assure the future strength of this country and its working families. The President has chosen to cut the investments in this bill by more than $7.5 billion in real terms. This bill rejects most of those cuts.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Rep. LEWIS: This bill reflects a fundamental difference in opinion on the level of funding necessary to support the Federal Government's role in education, health and workforce programs. The bill is $10.2 billion over the President's budget request. While many of these programs are popular on both sides of the aisle, this bill contains what can rightly be considered lower priority and duplicative programs. For example, this legislation continues three different programs that deal with violence prevention. An omnibus bill is absolutely the wrong and fiscally reckless approach to completing this year's work. It would negate any semblance of fiscal discipline demonstrated by this body in recent years.

Veto message from President Bush:

This bill spends too much. It exceeds [by $10.2 billion] the reasonable and responsible levels for discretionary spending that I proposed to balance the budget by 2012. This bill continues to fund 56 programs that I proposed to terminate because they are duplicative, narrowly focused, or not producing results. This bill does not sufficiently fund programs that are delivering positive outcomes. This bill has too many earmarks--more than 2,200 earmarks totaling nearly $1 billion. I urge the Congress to send me a fiscally responsible bill that sets priorities.

(Not used in VoteMatch)

Voting YES counts as answer D on AmericansElect question 6;
Voting NO counts as answer B on AmericansElect question 6.
Democrats: YES 38; NO 0
Republicans: YES 16; NO 13
Independents: YES 1; NO 1

Energy & Oil
Senate BillVote descriptionVoteMatch UsageCandidate Voting
Vote number 11-SV054 barring EPA from regulating greenhouse gases
on Apr 6, 2011 regarding bill Am183 to S.49 Energy Tax Prevention Act
Results: Failed 50-50 (3/5
Congressional Summary:To prohibit the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from promulgating any regulation concerning the emission of a greenhouse gas to address climate change. The Clean Air Act is amended by adding a section entitled, "No Regulation of Emissions of Greenhouse Gases". In this section, the term 'greenhouse gas' means any of the following:
  1. Water vapor
  2. Carbon dioxide
  3. Methane
  4. Nitrous oxide
  5. Sulfur hexafluoride
  6. Hydrofluorocarbons
  7. Perfluorocarbons
  8. Any other substance subject to, or proposed to be subject to regulation to address climate change.
The definition of the term 'air pollutant' does not include a greenhouse gas, except for purposes of addressing concerns other than climate change.

Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Sen. McConnell, R-KY]: The White House is trying to impose a backdoor national energy tax through the EPA. It is a strange way to respond to rising gas prices. But it is perfectly consistent with the current Energy Secretary's previously stated desire to get gas prices in the US up to where they are in Europe.

Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Sen. Lautenberg, D-NJ]:We hear the message that has been going around: Let's get rid of the EPA's ability to regulate. Who are they to tell us what businesses can do? Thank goodness that in this democratic society in which we live, there are rules and regulations to keep us as a civilized nation. The Supreme Court and scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency agreed that the Clean Air Act is a tool we must use to stop dangerous pollution. This amendment, it is very clear, favors one group--the business community. The Republican tea party politicians say: "Just ignore the Supreme Court. Ignore the scientists. We know better." They want to reward the polluters by crippling EPA's ability to enforce the Clean Air Act.

Voting NO counts for 1 points on VoteMatch question 18:
Replace coal & oil with alternatives;
Voting YES counts for -1 points on VoteMatch question 18.

Voting YES counts as answer D on AmericansElect question 2;
Voting NO counts as answer A on AmericansElect question 2.
Democrats: YES 3; NO 40
Republicans: YES 31; NO 1
Independents: YES 0; NO 1
Vote number 2009-S135 protecting middle-income taxpayers from a national energy tax
on Apr 2, 2009 regarding bill S.Amdt.910 to S.Con.Res.13 Graham Amendment
Results: Passed 65-33
    Congressional Summary:
  • On budget resolutions, it shall not be in order in the Senate to consider any bill or amendment that includes a National energy tax increase which would have widespread applicability on middle-income taxpayers.
  • The term "middle-income" taxpayers means single individuals with $200,000 or less in adjusted gross income and married couples filing jointly with $250,000 or less.
  • The term "widespread applicability" includes the definition with respect to individual income taxpayers.
  • The term "National energy tax increase" means any legislation that the Congressional Budget Office would score as leading to an increase in the costs of producing, generating or consuming energy.

    Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Sen. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R, SC): The climate change proposal that was in the President's budget would create a massive tax increase on anybody who uses energy, and that would be every American middle-class family, which already has a tough time getting by. This [amendment creates a procedure to block] any bill that would raise the cost of energy on our middle-class families who are struggling to get by. I ask the Senate to rally around this concept. We can deal with climate change without passing a $3,000-per-household energy tax on the families of America who are having a hard time paying their bills.

    Opponent's argument to vote No:No senators spoke against the amendment.

Voting NO counts for 1 points on VoteMatch question 18:
Replace coal & oil with alternatives;
Voting YES counts for -1 points on VoteMatch question 18.

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 20; NO 26
Republicans: YES 32; NO 0
Independents: YES 1; NO 1
Vote number 2009-S126 requiring full Senate debate and vote on cap-and-trade
on Apr 1, 2009 regarding bill S.Amdt.735 to S.Con.Res.13 Johanns Amendment
Results: Passed 67-31
Congressional Summary:AMENDMENT PURPOSE: To prohibit the use of reconciliation in the Senate for climate change legislation involving a cap and trade system.

Sec. 202 is amended by inserting at the end the following: "The Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Budget shall not revise the allocations in this resolution if the legislation is reported from any committee pursuant to sec. 310 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974."

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Sen. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R, SC): This idea to most people of a debate about reconciliation probably is mind-numbing and not very interesting. But there is a process in the Congress where you can take legislation and basically put it on a fast track. It is subject to 50 votes.

The whole idea of the Senate kind of cooling things down has served the country well. In that regard, to end debate you need 60 votes. If 41 Senators are opposed to a piece of legislation, strongly enough to come to the floor every day and talk about it, that legislation doesn't go anywhere. If you took climate change and health care, two very controversial, big-ticket items, and put them on the reconciliation track, you would basically be doing a lot of damage to the role of the Senate in a constitutional democracy.

Senator Byrd, who is one of the smartest people to ever serve in the Senate about rules and parliamentary aspects of the Senate, said that to put climate change and health care reform in reconciliation is like "a freight train through Congress" and is "an outrage that must be resisted." Senator Conrad said: "I don't believe reconciliation was ever intended for this purpose."

I think both of them are right. Under the law, you cannot put Social Security into reconciliation because we know how controversial and difficult that is. I come here in support of the Johanns amendment that rejects that idea.

Opponent's argument to vote No:No senators spoke against the amendment.

Voting NO counts for 1 points on VoteMatch question 18:
Replace coal & oil with alternatives;
Voting YES counts for -1 points on VoteMatch question 18.

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 21; NO 25
Republicans: YES 32; NO 0
Independents: YES 1; NO 1
Vote number 2008-150 tax incentives for energy production and conservation
on Jun 17, 2008 regarding bill HR6049 Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act
Results: Cloture Motion Rejected, 52-44 (3/5 needed)
OnTheIssues.org Explanation:A "Cloture Motion" would end debate on the bill, and then allow a vote on passage. This motion failed (3/5ths of the Senators must vote YEA), based on objections of how the new incentives would be paid for.Congressional Summary:A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide Tax incentives for energy production and conservation, to extend certain expiring provisions, and to provide individual income tax relief.
  • TITLE I--ENERGY TAX INCENTIVES
  • Sec. 102. Production credit for electricity produced from marine renewables.
  • Sec. 104. Credit for residential energy efficient property.
  • Sec. 106. New clean renewable energy bonds.
  • Part II--Carbon Mitigation Provisions
  • Sec. 112. Expansion and modification of coal gasification investment credit.
  • Sec. 115. Carbon audit of the tax code.
  • Sec. 121. Inclusion of cellulosic biofuel in bonus depreciation for biomass ethanol plant property.
  • Sec. 122. Credits for biodiesel and renewable diesel.
  • Sec. 124. Credit for new qualified plug-in electric drive motor vehicles.
  • Sec. 127. Transportation fringe benefit to bicycle commuters.
  • Sec. 146. Qualified green building and sustainable design projects.Opponents argument for voting NAY:Sen. SPECTER: H.R. 6049 would revive important tax provisions that expired at the end of 2007 and extend provisions that are set to expire at the end of 2008. I support extension of the R&D tax credit, the renewable energy tax incentives, and many other important provisions in this package.

    Despite the positive elements of this legislation, the main sticking point is whether temporary extensions of tax relief should be offset with permanent tax increases elsewhere. The White House issued a statement recommending a Presidential veto of this bill in its current form. [Vote NAY to] allow the Senate to work its will and pass legislation that can be quickly signed by the President.

Voting YES counts for 2 points on VoteMatch question 18:
Replace coal & oil with alternatives;
Voting NO counts for -2 points on VoteMatch question 18.

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 36; NO 2
Republicans: YES 3; NO 26
Independents: YES 1; NO 1
Vote number 2008-132 addressing CO2 emissions without considering India & China
on May 15, 2008 regarding bill Motion to Instruct S.Con.Res70 Motion to Instruct Conferees (China-India) re: S.Con.Res.70
Results: Motion Agreed to, 55-40
OnTheIssues.org Explanation: This is a motion on an omnibus spending bill, sending instructions to the committee resolving differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. Sen. Boxer introduced this motion, and Sen. DeMint introduced a counter-motion. Voting for the Boxer motion means you favor Boxer's method over DeMint's method, which means speeding up Congressional action on global warming.Opponents argument for voting NAY:Sen. DeMINT. When we are talking about trade agreements, there needs to be a level playing field. This motion would prevent Congress from passing any law with new mandates on greenhouse gas emissions that would harm the U.S. economy or result in job loss unless both China and India had the same mandates--in other words, if we had a level playing field. It is not going to help the environment in the United States or the world if we pass mandates that raise the cost of doing business in our country, if we create mandates that do not exist in India or China.Proponents argument for voting YEA:Sen. BOXER. I rise to speak against the DeMint motion and in favor of the Boxer motion. The DeMint motion is a throwback to 10 years ago when everybody, including myself, was saying we better watch out and not do anything about global warming until the undeveloped world acts. We cannot do that anymore. This is a time when we need to stand up as the leading country in the world and say that we can fight global warming, and we can win this fight.

But what happens with the DeMint motion, he gives China and India a veto power over what we should be doing. Imagine saying we are not going to do anything about human rights until China acts. Why would we give up our chance to take the mantle of leadership and finally grab hold of this issue? I cannot look into the eyes of my grandchildren and tell them: Sorry, I am giving over my proxy to China & India, and I can't do anything about it.

Voting YES counts for 1 points on VoteMatch question 18:
Replace coal & oil with alternatives;
Voting NO counts for -1 points on VoteMatch question 18.

Voting YES counts as answer on AmericansElect question 0;
Voting NO counts as answer on AmericansElect question 0.
Democrats: YES 37; NO 2
Republicans: YES 2; NO 25
Independents: YES 2; NO 0

Environment
Senate BillVote descriptionVoteMatch UsageCandidate Voting
Vote number 2009-S270 $2 billion more for Cash for Clunkers program
on Aug 6, 2009 regarding bill H.R. 3435 Cash for Clunkers bill
Results: Passed 60-37
Congressional Summary:Emergency supplemental appropriations of $2 billion for the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save (CARS) Program.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. OBEY (D, WI-7): The cash for clunkers program has proven even more wildly popular than its strongest supporters had predicted. Just last month, Congress passed the program, which provided up to $4,500 if you trade in your old gas guzzler for a new car that gets better mileage. That was done in the hopes of spurring some new car sales and encouraging people to be a little more environmentally friendly. We provided $1 billion in the supplemental to get it going, enough for about 250,000 sales--which was just about exhausted in one week. This bill transfers $2 billion from the Department of Energy's Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee program, which doesn't expect to award funding until late next year.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. LEWIS (R, CA-41): In the majority's haste to slam legislation with no time for consideration or amendments, we are now seeing the effects of such shortsighted martial law tactics.

Senator Feinstein tried to negotiate some changes to improve the program but was told that it was this way or the highway. Not one hearing on the Cash for Clunkers program, not one hearing on how the first billion dollars has been spent, not one hearing on how much money the program will need to get through the fiscal year.

Many of my colleagues will say, This is a great program, and it is necessary for the revitalization of the car industry. I'm not really going to argue with those goals. However, are we sure this program is working like it's supposed to? I don't think so. This program has only been up and running 1 week. If that is how the government is going to handle billion-dollar programs affecting all Americans, I ask, Whatever will we do if the administration takes control of our health care system?

Voting YES counts for 1 points on VoteMatch question 18:
Replace coal & oil with alternatives;
Voting NO counts for -1 points on VoteMatch question 18.

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 41; NO 4
Republicans: YES 4; NO 28
Independents: YES 1; NO 1
Vote number 2007-429 prohibiting eminent domain for use as parks or grazing land
on Dec 13, 2007 regarding bill S.Amdt. 3640 to H.R. 2419 Craig Amendment to Farm Bill Extension Act
Results: Rejected 37-58 (3/5 required)
To prohibit the involuntary acquisition of farmland & grazing land by government for parks, open space, or similar purposes. Exceptions include takings for use by:
  • public utility
  • road or other right of way
  • an aqueduct or pipeline
  • a prison or hospital
  • national disaster

Proponents support voting YES because:

Sen. CRAIG: "Eminent domain was elevated greatly as an issue following a highly controversial 2005 Supreme Court decision known as Kelo vs. The City of New London. Since that decision, we as a nation have allowed state & local governments to utilize eminent domain to force landowners to yield their property to private development. Farmers and ranchers in particular have become vulnerable to state and local governments taking their property for economic development or open space designations. My amendment is a very targeted amendment. It addresses only cases in which private working agricultural land is taken and turned into public open space."

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Sen. HARKIN: This amendment doesn't reach the Kelo decision [because Kelo was about taking open space for private development]. Under this amendment they can still do that.

CRAIG. Oh, I disagree totally. We reach a portion of Kelo that is now most frequently impacting farms and ranches, and that is open space for open space.

HARKIN. The amendment has the Federal Government telling a local government what it can and cannot do within its own jurisdiction.

Letter from the National Conference of State Legislatures & US Conference of Mayors:

"This amendment is not only ill-advised, but it is also unconstitutional [because it] preempts state & local land use laws. The 5th Amendment expressly permits the taking of private property for public use provided just compensation is provided to the owner. The power of eminent domain has always been, and should remain, a state and local power."

(Not used in VoteMatch)

Voting YES counts as answer A on AmericansElect question 8;
Voting NO counts as answer C on AmericansElect question 8.
Democrats: YES 2; NO 37
Republicans: YES 23; NO 6
Independents: YES 0; NO 2

Families & Children

No recent bills in this category

Foreign Policy
Senate BillVote descriptionVoteMatch UsageCandidate Voting
Vote number 2008-S211 cooperating with India as a nuclear power
on Oct 1, 2008 regarding bill HR.7081 US-India Nuclear Agreement
Results: Passed 86-13
Congressional Summary:US-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Nonproliferation Enhancement Act:
  • Approves the US-India Agreement for Cooperation on Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy.
  • Declares that it is US policy to prevent the transfer to India of nuclear equipment, materials, or technology from other participating governments in the Nuclear Suppliers Group or from any other source; and
  • any nuclear power reactor fuel reserve provided to India for use in safeguarded civilian nuclear facilities should be commensurate with reasonable reactor operating requirements.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. HOWARD BERMAN (D, CA-28): Integrating India into a global nonproliferation regime is a positive step. Before anyone gets too sanctimonious about India's nuclear weapons program, we should acknowledge that the five recognized nuclear weapons states have not done nearly enough to fulfill their commitments under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, including making serious reductions in their own arsenals, nor in the case of the US in ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. BARBARA LEE (D, CA-9): In withholding my approval, I seek not to penalize the people of India but, rather, to affirm the principle of nuclear nonproliferation. Jettisoning adherence to the international nuclear nonproliferation framework that has served the world so well for more than 30 years, as approval of the agreement before us would do, is just simply unwise. It is also reckless.

Approval of this agreement undermines our efforts to dissuade countries like Iran and North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. By approving this agreement, all we are doing is creating incentives for other countries to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

(Not used in VoteMatch)

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 32; NO 8
Republicans: YES 30; NO 0
Independents: YES 1; NO 1
Vote number 2002-116 enlarging NATO to include Eastern Europe
on May 17, 2002 regarding bill HR.3167
Results:
H.R. 3167; Gerald B. H. Solomon Freedom Consolidation Act of 2001, To endorse the vision of further enlargement of the NATO Alliance. Vote to pass a bill that would support further expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, authorize military assistance to several eastern European countries and lift assistance restrictions on Slovakia. (Not used in VoteMatch)

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 41; NO 0
Republicans: YES 26; NO 2
Independents: YES 1; NO 1

Free Trade
Senate BillVote descriptionVoteMatch UsageCandidate Voting
Vote number 2007-413 promoting free trade with Peru
on Dec 4, 2007 regarding bill H.R. 3688 Peru Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act
Results: Bill passed, 77-18
Approves the Agreement entered into with the government of Peru. Provides for the Agreement's entry into force upon certain conditions being met on or after January 1, 2008. Prescribes requirements for:
  • enforcement of textile and apparel rules of origin;
  • certain textile and apparel safeguard measures; and
  • enforcement of export laws governing trade of timber products from Peru.

Proponents support voting YES because:

Rep. RANGEL: It's absolutely ridiculous to believe that we can create jobs without trade. I had the opportunity to travel to Peru recently. I saw firsthand how important this agreement is to Peru and how this agreement will strengthen an important ally of ours in that region. Peru is resisting the efforts of Venezuela's authoritarian President Hugo Chavez to wage a war of words and ideas in Latin America against the US. Congress should acknowledge the support of the people of Peru and pass this legislation by a strong margin.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Rep. WU: I regret that I cannot vote for this bill tonight because it does not put human rights on an equal footing with environmental and labor protections.

Rep. KILDEE: All trade agreements suffer from the same fundamental flaw: They are not self-enforcing. Trade agreements depend upon vigorous enforcement, which requires official complaints be made when violations occur. I have no faith in President Bush to show any enthusiasm to enforce this agreement. Congress should not hand this administration yet another trade agreement because past agreements have been more efficient at exporting jobs than goods and services. I appeal to all Members of Congress to vote NO on this. But I appeal especially to my fellow Democrats not to turn their backs on those American workers who suffer from the export of their jobs. They want a paycheck, not an unemployment check.

Voting YES counts for 1 points on VoteMatch question 13:
Support & expand free trade;
Voting NO counts for -1 points on VoteMatch question 13.

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 25; NO 14
Republicans: YES 29; NO 0
Independents: YES 1; NO 1

Government Reform
Senate BillVote descriptionVoteMatch UsageCandidate Voting
Vote number 2009-S217 Congressional pay raise
on Jul 6, 2009 regarding bill HR2918&S1294 Legislative Branch Appropriations Act
Results: Passed 67-25
Congressional Summary:
    Makes appropriations to the Senate for FY2010 for:
  1. expense allowances;
  2. representation allowances for the Majority and Minority Leaders;
  3. salaries of specified officers, employees, and committees (including the Committee on Appropriations);
  4. agency contributions for employee benefits;
  5. inquiries and investigations;
  6. the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control;
  7. the Offices of the Secretary and of the Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper of the Senate;
  8. miscellaneous items;
  9. the Senators' Official Personnel and Office Expense Account; and
  10. official mail costs.
Amends the Legislative Branch Appropriation Act of 1968 to increase by $50,000 the gross compensation paid all employees in the office of a Senator. Increases by $96,000 per year the aggregate amount authorized for the offices of the Majority and Minority Whip.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D, FL-20): We, as Members of Congress, have responsibility not just for the institution, but for the staff that work for this institution, and to preserve the facilities that help support this institution. We have endeavored to do that responsibly, and I believe we have accomplished that goal.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. SCALISE (R, LA-1): It's a sad day when someone attempts to cut spending in a bill that grows government by the size of 7%, and it's not allowed to be debated on this House floor. Some of their Members actually used the term "nonsense" and "foolishness" when describing our amendments to cut spending; they call that a delaying tactic. Well, I think Americans all across this country want more of those types of delaying tactics to slow down this runaway train of massive Federal spending. Every dollar we spend from today all the way through the end of this year is borrowed money. We don't have that money. We need to control what we're spending.

(Not used in VoteMatch)

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 39; NO 3
Republicans: YES 13; NO 18
Independents: YES 1; NO 1
Vote number 2009-S073 providing a US House seat for the District of Columbia
on Feb 26, 2009 regarding bill S.160 District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act
Results: Passed 61-35 (3/5ths required)
Congressional Summary:
  • The District of Columbia shall be considered a Congressional district for purposes of representation in the House of Representatives.
  • DC shall not be considered a State for purposes of representation in the US Senate.
  • Reapportionment [census-based House seats] shall apply with respect to DC in the same manner as it applies to a State, except that DC may not receive more than one Member.
  • Effective with the 112th Congress, the House of Representatives shall be composed of 437 Members, including the Member representing DC.
  • The State of Utah is entitled to one additional Representative pursuant to this reapportionment.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Sen. ORRIN HATCH (R-UT): I am cosponsoring the legislation to provide a House seat for DC and an additional House seat for Utah. Representation and suffrage are so central to the American system of self-government that America's founders warned that limiting suffrage would risk another revolution and could prevent ratification of the Constitution. The Supreme Court held in 1820 that Congress' legislative authority over DC allows taxation of DC. Do opponents of giving DC a House seat believe that DC is suitable for taxation but not for representation?

Opponent's argument to vote No:Sen. JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ): I make a constitutional point of order against this bill on the grounds that it violates article I, section 2, of the Constitution. I appreciate the frustration felt by the residents of DC at the absence of a vote in Congress. According to many experts, DC is not a State, so therefore is not entitled to that representation. Also, one has to raise the obvious question: If DC is entitled to a Representative, why isn't Puerto Rico, which would probably entail 9 or 10 Members of Congress? [With regards to the seat for Utah], this is obviously partisan horse-trading.

(Not used in VoteMatch)

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 44; NO 2
Republicans: YES 4; NO 28
Independents: YES 1; NO 1

Gun Control
Senate BillVote descriptionVoteMatch UsageCandidate Voting
Vote number 2009-S145 allowing firearms in checked baggage on Amtrak trains
on Apr 2, 2009 regarding bill S.Amdt.798 to S.Con.Res.13 Wicker Amendment
Results: Passed 63-35
Congressional Summary:AMENDMENT PURPOSE: To ensure that law abiding Amtrak passengers are allowed to securely transport firearms in their checked baggage.

On page 37, between lines 8 and 9, insert the following: "Allowing Amtrak Passengers to Securely Transport Firearms on Passenger Trains.--None of amounts made available in the reserve fund authorized under this section may be used to provide financial assistance for the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) unless Amtrak passengers are allowed to securely transport firearms in their checked baggage.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Sen. ROGER WICKER (R, MS). This amendment aims to ensure that gun owners and sportsmen are able to transport securely firearms aboard Amtrak trains in checked baggage, a practice that is done thousands of times a day at airports across the country. I emphasize that this amendment deals with checked, secured baggage only. It would return Amtrak to a pre-9/11 practice. It does not deal with carry-on baggage. Unlike the airline industry, Amtrak does not allow the transport of firearms in checked bags. This means that sportsmen who wish to use Amtrak trains for hunting trips cannot do so because they are not allowed to check safely a firearm.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Sen. FRANK LAUTENBERG (D, NJ): I object to this disruptive amendment offered by the Senator from Mississippi. He wants to enable the carrying of weapons, guns, in checked baggage. One doesn't have to be very much concerned about what we are doing when they look at the history of attacks on railroads in Spain and the UK and such places. This amendment has no place here interrupting the budgetary procedure. The pending amendment is not germane and, therefore, I raise a point of order that the amendment violates section 305(b)(2) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974.

Voting YES counts for 1 points on VoteMatch question 10:
Absolute right to gun ownership;
Voting NO counts for -1 points on VoteMatch question 10.

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 18; NO 28
Republicans: YES 31; NO 1
Independents: YES 2; NO 0
Vote number 2007-321 prohibiting foreign & UN aid that restricts US gun ownership
on Sep 6, 2007 regarding bill S.Amdt. 2774 to H.R. 2764 Vitter Amendment to State Dept. Appropriations Bill
Results: Agreed to, 81-10
Amendment SA 2774 to H.R. 2764, the Department of State's International Aid bill: To prohibit the use of funds by international organizations, agencies, and entities (including the United Nations) that require the registration of, or taxes guns owned by citizens of the United States.

Proponents support voting YES because:

Sen. VITTER: This is a straight funding limitation amendment. Many folks who haven't followed the proceedings on this in the U.N. may ask: What is this all about? Unfortunately, it is about an effort in the United Nations to bring gun control to various countries through that international organization. Unfortunately, that has been an ongoing effort which poses a real threat, back to 1995. In 2001, the UN General Assembly adopted a program of action designed to infringe on second amendment rights. The Vitter amendment simply says we are not going to support any international organization that requires a registration of US citizens' guns or taxes US citizens' guns. If other folks in this Chamber think that is not happening, that it is never going to happen, my reply is simple and straightforward: Great, then this language has no effect. It is no harm to pass it as a failsafe. It has no impact. But, in fact, related efforts have been going on in the U.N. since at least 1995. I hope this can get very wide, bipartisan support, and I urge all my colleagues to support this very fundamental, straightforward amendment.

No opponents spoke against the bill.

Voting YES counts for 1 points on VoteMatch question 10:
Absolute right to gun ownership;
Voting NO counts for -1 points on VoteMatch question 10.

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 26; NO 10
Republicans: YES 29; NO 0
Independents: YES 2; NO 0

Health Care
Senate BillVote descriptionVoteMatch UsageCandidate Voting
Vote number 11-SV077 the Ryan Budget: Medicare choice, tax & spending cuts
on May 25, 2011 regarding bill HCR34&SCR21 Ryan Budget Plan
Results: Failed 40-57
Proponent's Arguments for voting Yes:

[Sen. DeMint, R-SC]: The Democrats have Medicare on a course of bankruptcy. Republicans are trying to save Medicare & make sure there are options for seniors in the future. Medicare will not be there 5 or 10 years from now. Doctors will not see Medicare patients at the rate [Congress will] pay.

[Sen. Ayotte, R-NH]: We have 3 choices when it comes to addressing rising health care costs in Medicare. We can do nothing & watch the program go bankrupt in 2024. We can go forward with the President's proposal to ration care through an unelected board of 15 bureaucrats. Or we can show real leadership & strengthen the program to make it solvent for current beneficiaries, and allow future beneficiaries to make choices.

Opponent's Arguments for voting No:

[Sen. Conrad, D-ND]: In the House Republican budget plan, the first thing they do is cut $4 trillion in revenue over the next 10 years. For the wealthiest among us, they give them an additional $1 trillion in tax reductions. To offset these massive new tax cuts, they have decided to shred the social safety net. They have decided to shred Medicare. They have decided to shred program after program so they can give more tax cuts to those who are the wealthiest among us.

[Sen. Merkley, D-TK]: The Republicans chose to end Medicare as we know it. The Republican plan reopens the doughnut hole. That is the hole into which seniors fall when, after they have some assistance with the first drugs they need, they get no assistance until they reach a catastrophic level. It is in that hole that seniors have had their finances devastated. We fixed it. Republicans want to unfix it and throw seniors back into the abyss. Then, instead of guaranteeing Medicare coverage for a fixed set of benefits for every senior--as Medicare does now--the Republican plan gives seniors a coupon and says: Good luck. Go buy your insurance. If the insurance goes up, too bad.

Voting NO counts for 1 points on VoteMatch question 5:
More federal funding for health coverage;
Voting YES counts for -1 points on VoteMatch question 5.

Voting YES counts as answer C on AmericansElect question 3;
Voting NO counts as answer B on AmericansElect question 3.
Democrats: YES 0; NO 42
Republicans: YES 27; NO 4
Independents: YES 0; NO 1
Vote number 2009-S207 regulating tobacco as a drug
on Jun 11, 2009 regarding bill HR1256&S982 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act
Results: Passed 79-17
Congressional Summary:Amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) to provide for the regulation of tobacco products by the Secretary of Health and Human Services through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Defines a tobacco product as any product made or derived from tobacco that is intended for human consumption. Excludes from FDA authority the tobacco leaf and tobacco farms.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. HEATH SHULER (D, NC-11): Putting a dangerous, overworked FDA in charge of tobacco is a threat to public safety. Last year, the FDA commissioner testified that he had serious concerns that this bill could undermine the public health role of the FDA. And the FDA Science Board said the FDA's inability to keep up with scientific advancements means that Americans' lives will be at risk.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes: Rep. HENRY WAXMAN (D, CA-30): The bill before us, the Waxman-Platts bill, has been carefully crafted over more than a decade, in close consultation with the public health community. It's been endorsed by over 1,000 different public health, scientific, medical, faith, and community organizations.

Sen. HARRY REID (D, NV): Yesterday, 3,500 children who had never smoked before tried their first cigarette. For some, it will also be their last cigarette but certainly not all. If you think 3,500 is a scary number, how about 3.5 million. That is a pretty scary number. That is how many American high school kids smoke--3.5 million. Nearly all of them aren't old enough to buy cigarettes. It means we have as many boys and girls smoking as are participating in athletics in high schools. We have as many as are playing football, basketball, track and field, and baseball combined.

Voting YES counts for 1 points on VoteMatch question 5:
More federal funding for health coverage;
Voting NO counts for -1 points on VoteMatch question 5.

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 44; NO 1
Republicans: YES 19; NO 13
Independents: YES 2; NO 0
Vote number 2009-S031 expanding the Children's Health Insurance Program
on Jan 29, 2009 regarding bill H.R.2 SCHIP Reauthorization Act
Results: Passed 66-32
Congressional Summary:

  • Reauthorizes State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) through FY2013 at increased levels.
  • Gives states the option to cover targeted low-income pregnant women
  • Phases out coverage for nonpregnant childless adults.
Proponent's argument to vote Yes:

Rep. FRANK PALLONE (D, NJ-6): In the last Congress, we passed legislation that enjoyed bipartisan support as well as the support of the American people. Unfortunately, it did not enjoy the support of the President, who vetoed our bill twice, and went on to proclaim that uninsured children can simply go to the emergency room to have their medical needs met. As the Nation moves deeper into a recession and unemployment rates continue to rise, millions of Americans are joining the ranks of the uninsured, many of whom are children. We can't delay. We must enact this legislation now.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. ROY BLUNT (R, MI-7): This bill doesn't require the States to meet any kind of threshold standard that would ensure that States were doing everything they could to find kids who needed insurance before they begin to spend money to find kids who may not have the same need. Under the bill several thousands of American families would be poor enough to qualify for SCHIP and have the government pay for their health care, but they'd be rich enough to still be required to pay the alternative minimum tax. The bill changes welfare participation laws by eliminating the 5-year waiting period for legal immigrants to lawfully reside in the country before they can participate in this program. In the final bill, we assume that 65% of the children receiving the benefit wouldn't get the benefit anymore. It seems to me this bill needs more work, would have benefited from a committee hearing. It doesn't prioritize poor kids to ensure that they get health care first.

Voting YES counts for 1 points on VoteMatch question 5:
More federal funding for health coverage;
Voting NO counts for -1 points on VoteMatch question 5.

Voting YES counts as answer B on AmericansElect question 3;
Voting NO counts as answer C on AmericansElect question 3.
Democrats: YES 46; NO 0
Republicans: YES 6; NO 26
Independents: YES 2; NO 0
Vote number 2008-S177 overriding veto on expansion of Medicare
on Jul 15, 2008 regarding bill HR.6331 Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act
Results: Passed 70-26
Congressional Summary:
  • Extends Medicare to cover additional preventive services.
  • Includes body mass index and end-of-life planning among initial preventive physical examinations.
  • Eliminates by 2014 [the currently higher] copayment rates for Medicare psychiatric services.
Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH's veto message (argument to vote No):
    I support the primary objective of this legislation, to forestall reductions in physician payments. Yet taking choices away from seniors to pay physicians is wrong. This bill is objectionable, and I am vetoing it because:
  • It would harm beneficiaries by taking private health plan options away from them.
  • It would undermine the Medicare prescription drug program.
  • It is fiscally irresponsible, and it would imperil the long-term fiscal soundness of Medicare by using short-term budget gimmicks that do not solve the problem.
In addition, H.R. 6331 would delay important reforms like the Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies competitive bidding program. Changing policy in mid-stream is also confusing to beneficiaries who are receiving services from quality suppliers at lower prices. In order to slow the growth in Medicare spending, competition within the program should be expanded, not diminished.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes: Sen. PATTY MURRAY (D, WA): President Bush vetoed a bill that would make vital improvements to the program that has helped ensure that millions of seniors and the disabled can get the care they need. This bill puts an emphasis on preventive care that will help our seniors stay healthy, and it will help to keep costs down by enabling those patients to get care before they get seriously ill. This bill will improve coverage for low-income seniors who need expert help to afford basic care. It will help make sure our seniors get mental health care.

Voting YES counts for 1 points on VoteMatch question 5:
More federal funding for health coverage;
Voting NO counts for -1 points on VoteMatch question 5.

Voting YES counts as answer A on AmericansElect question 3;
Voting NO counts as answer C on AmericansElect question 3.
Democrats: YES 39; NO 0
Republicans: YES 12; NO 17
Independents: YES 2; NO 0
Vote number 08-S063 means-testing to determine Medicare Part D premium
on Mar 13, 2008 regarding bill S.Amdt.4240 to S.Con.Res.70
Results: Amendment rejected, 42-56
CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY:To require wealthy Medicare beneficiaries to pay a greater share of their Medicare Part D premiums.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. ENSIGN: This amendment is to means test Medicare Part D the same way we means test Medicare Part B. An individual senior making over $82,000 a year, or a senior couple making over $164,000, would be expected to pay a little over $10 a month extra. That is all we are doing. This amendment saves a couple billion dollars over the next 5 years. It is very reasonable. There is nothing else in this budget that does anything on entitlement reform, and we all know entitlements are heading for a train wreck in this country. We ought to at least do this little bit for our children for deficit reduction. OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Sen. BAUCUS: The problem with this amendment is exactly what the sponsor said: It is exactly like Part B. Medicare Part B is a premium that is paid with respect to doctors' examinations and Medicare reimbursement. Part D is the drug benefit. Part D premiums vary significantly nationwide according to geography and according to the plans offered. It is nothing like Part B.

Second, any change in Part D is required to be in any Medicare bill if it comes up. We may want to make other Medicare changes. We don't want to be restricted to means testing.

Third, this should be considered broad health care reform, at least Medicare reform, and not be isolated in this case. LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment rejected, 42-56

Voting NO counts for 1 points on VoteMatch question 5:
More federal funding for health coverage;
Voting YES counts for -1 points on VoteMatch question 5.

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 2; NO 38
Republicans: YES 26; NO 3
Independents: YES 0; NO 2
Vote number 08-S025 allowing tribal Indians to opt out of federal healthcare
on Feb 14, 2008 regarding bill SA.4034 to SA.3899 to S.1200 Tribal Member Choice Program
Results: Amendment rejected, 28-67
CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY:
    TRIBAL MEMBER CHOICE PROGRAM: Members of federally-recognized Indian Tribes shall be provided the opportunity to voluntarily enroll, with a risk-adjusted subsidy for the purchase of qualified health insurance in order to--
  1. improve Indian access to high quality health care services;
  2. provide incentives to Indian patients to seek preventive health care services;
  3. create opportunities for Indians to participate in the health care decision process;
  4. encourage effective use of health care services by Indians; and
  5. allow Indians to make health care coverage & delivery decisions & choices.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. COBURN: The underlying legislation, S.1200, does not fix the underlying problems with tribal healthcare. It does not fix rationing. It does not fix waiting lines. It does not fix the inferior quality that is being applied to a lot of Native Americans and Alaskans in this country. It does not fix any of those problems. In fact, it authorizes more services without making sure the money is there to follow it.

Those who say a failure to reauthorize the Indian Health Care Improvement Act is a violation of our trust obligations are correct. However, I believe simply reauthorizing this system with minor modifications is an even greater violation of that commitment.

OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Sen. DORGAN: It is not more money necessarily that is only going to solve the problem. But I guarantee you that less money will not solve the problem. If you add another program for other Indians who can go somewhere else and be able to present a card, they have now taken money out of the system and purchased their own insurance--then those who live on the reservation with the current Indian Health Service clinic there has less money. How does that work to help the folks who are stranded with no competition?

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment rejected, 28-67

Voting NO counts for 2 points on VoteMatch question 5:
More federal funding for health coverage;
Voting YES counts for -2 points on VoteMatch question 5.

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 1; NO 37
Republicans: YES 17; NO 11
Independents: YES 1; NO 1

Homeland Security
Senate BillVote descriptionVoteMatch UsageCandidate Voting
Vote number 11-SV019 extending the PATRIOT Act's roving wiretaps
on Feb 17, 2011 regarding bill H.514 FISA Sunsets Extension Act
Results: Passed 86-12
Congressional Summary: A bill to extend expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 and Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 relating to access to business records, individual terrorists as agents of foreign powers, and roving wiretaps until December 8, 2011.

Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Rep. Smith, R-TX]: America is safe today not because terrorists and spies have given up their goal to destroy our freedoms and our way of life. We are safe today because the men and women of our Armed Forces, our intelligence community, and our law enforcement agencies work every single day to protect us. And Congress must ensure that they are equipped with the resources they need to counteract continuing terrorist threats. On Feb. 28, three important provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act will expire. These provisions give investigators in national security cases the authority to conduct "roving" wiretaps, to seek certain business records, and to gather intelligence on lone terrorists who are not affiliated with a known terrorist group. The Patriot Act works. It has proved effective in preventing terrorist attacks and protecting Americans. To let these provisions expire would leave every American less safe.

Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Rep. Conyers, D-MI]: Section 215 of the Patriot Act allows a secret FISA court to authorize our government to collect business records or anything else, requiring that a person or business produce virtually any type record. We didn't think that that was right then. We don't think it's right now. This provision is contrary to traditional notions of search and seizure which require the government to show reasonable suspicion or probable cause before undertaking an investigation that infringes upon a person's privacy. And so I urge a "no" vote on the extension of these expiring provisions.

Voting NO counts for 2 points on VoteMatch question 14:
Patriot Act harms civil liberties;
Voting YES counts for -2 points on VoteMatch question 14.

Voting YES counts as answer B on AmericansElect question 9;
Voting NO counts as answer C on AmericansElect question 9.
Democrats: YES 32; NO 9
Republicans: YES 32; NO 0
Independents: YES 0; NO 1
Vote number 2008-111 cutting $221M in benefits to Filipinos who served in WWII US Army
on Apr 24, 2008 regarding bill S.Amdt. 4572 to S. 1315 Burr Amendment
Results: Amendment failed, 41-56
Opponents argument for voting NAY:Sen. INOUYE. From the Spanish-American War in 1898, until the end of World War II, we exercised jurisdiction over the Philippines like a colonial power. In July 1941, we called upon the Filipinos to volunteer to serve the US under American command, and 470,000 Filipinos volunteered. An Executive Order in 1941 promised Filipinos if they fought for us, they could become citizens of the US and get all of the veterans' benefits. But in 1946, the Congress rescinded the 1941 act. Well, this veterans bill has a provision in it--a provision of honor--in which, finally, after six decades, we will restore our honor and tell the Filipinos: It is late, but please forgive us. Proponents argument for voting YEA:Sen. BURR. This bill is so much more than just a pension for Philippine veterans. It is $332 million in Philippine benefits, of which $221 million is devoted to a new special pension that does not exist [previously. Only that $221M would be cut]. Regardless of the outcome of my amendment, I support final passage of this bill. But we do have a difference as it relates to the pensions. I believe that there was not a promise made. We did not imply it. Those who made the decision on the 1946 Rescissions Act, they looked at the history very well.

Sen. CORNYN. The problem I have with this bill is that the US Treasury is not bottomless, and the funding that is being provided to create this new pension would literally be at the expense of US veterans. The $221 million that is addressed by Sen. Burr's amendment would actually go back in to supplement benefits for US veterans. And while we appreciate and honor all of our allies who fought alongside of us in WWII, certainly that doesn't mean we are going to grant pension benefits to all of our allies, [like] the British or the Australians. Vote for the Burr Amendment because certainly our American veterans should be our priority.

(Not used in VoteMatch)

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 0; NO 40
Republicans: YES 26; NO 2
Independents: YES 1; NO 1
Vote number 08-S012 requiring FISA court warrant to monitor US-to-foreign calls
on Feb 7, 2008 regarding bill S.Amdt.3913 to S.2248 Amendment to Protect America Act
Results: Amendment Rejected, 38-57
SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. FEINGOLD: The Protect America Act (PAA) we passed last year was sold repeatedly as a way to allow the Government to collect foreign-to-foreign communications without needing the approval of the FISA Court. Now, this is something all of us support, every one of us. But the PAA actually went much further. It authorized new sweeping intrusions into the privacy of countless Americans. The bill the Senate is considering to replace the PAA does not do nearly enough to safeguard against Government abuse. So this amendment would provide those safeguards.

[The PAA allows] acquiring all the calls and e-mails between employees of a US company and a foreign company, with no requirement to get a warrant and no requirement that there be some link to terrorism. So any American who works at a company that does business overseas should think about that.

OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO: Sen. BOND: The purpose of this bill is, and always has been, to enable the intelligence community to act to target foreign terrorists and spies overseas.

The amendment, as it is drafted, will have a totally unexpected impact. It is difficult to explain, in an unclassified session, why this amendment is unworkable. There are only certain communications which the intelligence community is lawfully permitted to acquire, and which it has any desire to acquire, because to acquire all the communications from all foreigners is an absolutely impossible task.

I cannot describe in a public setting how they go about ascertaining which collections are important. But to say that if Osama bin Laden calls somebody in the US, we cannot listen in to that communication, unless we have an independent means of verifying it has some impact or a terrorist threat--That is the most important communication we need to intercept.

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment Rejected, 38-57

Voting YES counts for 2 points on VoteMatch question 14:
Patriot Act harms civil liberties;
Voting NO counts for -2 points on VoteMatch question 14.

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 29; NO 9
Republicans: YES 0; NO 29
Independents: YES 1; NO 1

Immigration
Senate BillVote descriptionVoteMatch UsageCandidate Voting
Vote number 08-S069 continuing federal funds for declared "sanctuary cities"
on Mar 13, 2008 regarding bill Table S.Amdt.4309 to S.Con.Res
Results: Motion to Table Agreed to, 58-40
CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: To create a reserve fund to ensure that Federal assistance does not go to sanctuary cities that ignore the immigration laws of the United States and create safe havens for illegal aliens and potential terrorists. This vote is a motion to table the amendment; voting YES would kill the amendment.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO ON TABLING MOTION:Sen. VITTER: There are so-called sanctuary cities which establish as an official policy of their jurisdiction: We are not going to cooperate with Federal immigration enforcement officials. That is wrong. What is more, it is completely contrary to Federal immigration law. My amendment says: We are going to put some consequence to that defiance of Federal law. We are not going to give them COPS funds. We are going to send those funds, instead, to all of those other jurisdictions which abide by Federal law.OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES ON TABLING MOTION:Sen. DURBIN: There are sanctuary cities in about 23 different States across America. What the Vitter amendment will do is to take away the COPS funding from those cities. Police departments will tell you they need the cooperation of everyone to solve crimes and stop crime. If you create fear in the minds of those who are here in an undocumented status that any cooperation with the police will result in their arrest, they will not cooperate and criminals will go free. Let's not use the COPS Program as some sort of threat. If you want to deal with immigration, deal with it responsibly in a comprehensive way. SUPPORTER'S RESPONSE:Sen. VITTER: If folks feel that way, they should come to Congress and change Federal law, not simply defy Federal law. This is another amnesty vote. Are we going to give folks in sanctuary cities amnesty for defying Federal law and refusing to cooperate with Federal immigration officials? LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Motion to Table Agreed to, 58-40

Voting YES counts for 2 points on VoteMatch question 12:
Illegal immigrants earn citizenship;
Voting NO counts for -2 points on VoteMatch question 12.

Voting YES counts as answer A on AmericansElect question 4;
Voting NO counts as answer C on AmericansElect question 4.
Democrats: YES 39; NO 1
Republicans: YES 4; NO 25
Independents: YES 1; NO 1
Vote number 2007-235 comprehensive immigration reform
on Jun 28, 2007 regarding bill S.1639 McCain-Kennedy Immigration Reform Bill
Results: Cloture Motion rejected, 46-53
    Establishes specified benchmarks which must be met before the guest worker and legalization programs may be initiated:
  1. operational control of the border with Mexico;
  2. Border Patrol increases;
  3. border barriers, including vehicle barriers, fencing, radar, and aerial vehicles;
  4. detention capacity for illegal aliens apprehended crossing the US-Mexico border;
  5. workplace enforcement, including an electronic employment verification system; and
  6. Z-visa alien processing.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

If we do not legislate now, we will not legislate later this year when our calendar is crowded with Iraq and appropriations bills. We are then an election year, and it will be pushed over to 2009. Circumstances will not be better then, they will be worse.

A vote against cloture is a vote to kill the bill. A Senator may vote for cloture and then express himself in opposition to the bill by voting against the bill.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

If this bill becomes law, we will see only a 13% reduction in illegal immigration into America, and in the next 20 years we will have another 8.7 million illegals in our country. How can that be reformed? I submit this would be a disaster.

The Congressional telephone systems have shut down because of the mass phone calls Congress is receiving. A decent respect for the views of the American people says let's stop here now. Let's go back to the drawing board and come up with a bill that will work.

The American people get it, and they do have common sense and wisdom on this issue. They know repeating the fundamental mistakes of the 1986 bill, joining a big amnesty with inadequate enforcement, will cause the problem to grow and not diminish. They know promising enforcement after 30 years of broken promises isn't good enough. They know the so-called trigger is a joke because if the trigger is never pulled, the Z visas, the amnesty happens forever.

Voting YES counts for 2 points on VoteMatch question 12:
Illegal immigrants earn citizenship;
Voting NO counts for -2 points on VoteMatch question 12.

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 29; NO 11
Republicans: YES 6; NO 24
Independents: YES 1; NO 1

Jobs
Senate BillVote descriptionVoteMatch UsageCandidate Voting
Vote number 2008-S214 extending unemployment benefits from 39 weeks to 59 weeks
on Nov 20, 2008 regarding bill HR.6867 Unemployment Compensation Extension Act
Results: Passed 89-6 (3/5ths required)
Congressional Summary:Revises the formula for Tier-1 amounts a state credits to an applicant's emergency unemployment compensation account. Increases the figures in the formula from 50% to 80% of the total amount of regular compensation ; and from 13 to 20 times the individual's average weekly benefit amount.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:

Rep. CHARLES RANGEL (D, NY-15): The House, for weeks, has attempted to save the free world from a fiscal disaster. We have bailed out the banks and those who held mortgages. At the same time, we provided for energy extensions, we provided tax breaks for those people that tax provisions have expired. We provided for hurricane relief, for mental health. So over $1 trillion is out there for this House to ease the pain of millions of Americans.

While we were dealing with these gigantic powers, we overlooked the fact that over the last 12 months the number of unemployed workers has jumped by over 2 million, leaving 10 million Americans struggling for work. These are hardworking people that have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

Rep. JERRY WELLER (R, IL-11): This important legislation provides additional needed assistance to the long-term unemployed. It's important that we pass this legislation today as our last act before we leave for the election campaign.

This legislation focuses the most additional benefits on workers and States where the unemployment rate is highest and where jobs are hardest to find. This program continues the requirement that those benefiting from extended unemployment benefits had to have worked at least 20 weeks. Americans were rightly concerned about proposals to eliminate that work requirement and allow 39 weeks or, under the legislation before us today, as many as 59 weeks of total unemployment benefits to be paid to those who have previously only worked for a few weeks.

Opponent's argument to vote No:None voiced.

(Not used in VoteMatch)

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 39; NO 0
Republicans: YES 23; NO 6
Independents: YES 2; NO 0
Vote number 2008-151 overriding presidential veto of Farm Bill
on Jun 18, 2008 regarding bill HR6124 Veto Override on Food, Conservation, and Energy Act
Results: Veto Overridden, 80-14 (2/3 needed)
OnTheIssues.org Explanation:This bill was vetoed twice! Congress passed an identical bill in May, which Pres. Bush vetoed. Congress then discovered that a clerical error. A replacement bill was passed; then vetoed again by the President; and this is its "final" veto override.Congressional Summary:Provides for the continuation of agricultural and other programs of the Department of Agriculture through FY2012. Revises agricultural and related programs, including provisions respecting:
  1. commodity programs;
  2. conservation;
  3. trade;
  4. nutrition;
  5. credit;
  6. rural development;
  7. research and related matters;
  8. forestry;
  9. energy;
  10. horticulture and organic agriculture;
  11. livestock;
  12. crop insurance and disaster assistance;
  13. socially disadvantaged and limited resource producers; and
  14. miscellaneous programs.
President's veto message:I am returning herewith without my approval H.R. 6124. The bill that I vetoed on May 21, 2008, H.R. 2419, did not include the title III (trade) provisions that are in this bill. In passing H.R. 6124, the Congress had an opportunity to improve on H.R. 2419 by modifying certain objectionable, onerous, and fiscally imprudent provisions [but did not].

This bill lacks fiscal discipline. It continues subsidies for the wealthy and increases farm bill spending by more than $20 billion, while using budget gimmicks to hide much of the increase. It is inconsistent with our trade objectives of securing greater market access for American farmers. [Hence] I must veto H.R. 6124.Proponents argument for voting YEA:We had a meeting this morning with the Secretary of Agriculture to talk about implementation. So [despite the two vetoes], the work has been going on within the department of agriculture to get ready for implementation.

This is a good bill. It has wide support in the Congress. It does address all of the issues that have been brought to the Agriculture Committee.

(Not used in VoteMatch)

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 35; NO 2
Republicans: YES 22; NO 7
Independents: YES 2; NO 0
Vote number 08-S058 terminating legal challenges to English-only job rules
on Mar 13, 2008 regarding bill S.Amdt.4222 to S.Con.Res.70
Results: Amendment passed, 54-44
CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: To take $670,000 used by the EEOC in bringing actions against employers that require their employees to speak English, and instead use the money to teach English to adults through the Department of Education's English Literacy/Civics Education State Grant program.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. ALEXANDER: Let me begin with this story. In March 2007, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued the Salvation Army for allegedly discriminating against two employees in a Boston area thrift store. What had the Salvation Army done to earn this lawsuit from the Federal Government? Well, it had required its employees to speak English on the job. The English rule was clearly posted, and the employees were given a year to learn it. But this lawsuit means that a small business in Missouri would have to hire a lawyer in order to make sure they have a clear business reason to require their employees to speak our common language on the job.

So I have an amendment to bring some common sense to this subject. It would be to take $670,000 used by the EEOC, which it is using to bring actions against employers who require their employees to speak English.OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Sen. KENNEDY: Let's look at what the law is and what the Alexander amendment provides. The law currently says that if there is a need to speak English on the job, fine; employers can require that. But employers cannot use English-only rules as an excuse when they want to fire minorities who are performing the job correctly. In this fact situation, those employees had performed the job correctly for 5 years.

In addition, this amendment reduces the EEOC's ability to fight all forms of discrimination because it cuts the entire budget. That means race, age, religion, and disability cases will be harmed. I hope the amendment will be defeated.LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment passed, 54-44

(Not used in VoteMatch)

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 7; NO 33
Republicans: YES 29; NO 0
Independents: YES 0; NO 2

Principles & Values
Senate BillVote descriptionVoteMatch UsageCandidate Voting
Vote number 2009-S262 confirming of Sonia Sotomayor to Supreme Court
on Aug 6, 2009 regarding bill PN506 Supreme Court Nomination
Results: Confirmed 68-31
Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee kicked off the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor. In her opening statement, Judge Sotomayor pledged a "fidelity to the law:"
"In the past month, many Senators have asked me about my judicial philosophy. It is simple: fidelity to the law. The task of a judge is not to make the law--it is to apply the law. And it is clear, I believe, that my record in two courts reflects my rigorous commitment to interpreting the Constitution according to its terms; interpreting statutes according to their terms and Congress's intent; and hewing faithfully to precedents established by the Supreme Court and my Circuit Court. In each case I have heard, I have applied the law to the facts at hand."
(Not used in VoteMatch)

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 47; NO 0
Republicans: YES 5; NO 27
Independents: YES 2; NO 0
Vote number 2006-002 confirming Samuel Alito as Supreme Court Justice
on Jan 31, 2006 regarding bill PN 1059 Alito Nomination
Results: Nomination Confirmed, 58-42
Vote on the Nomination -- a YES vote would to confirm Samuel A. Alito, Jr., of New Jersey, to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. (Not used in VoteMatch)

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 4; NO 32
Republicans: YES 35; NO 1
Independents: YES 1; NO 1

Social Security
Senate BillVote descriptionVoteMatch UsageCandidate Voting
Vote number 2007-089 establishing reserve funds & pre-funding for Social Security
on Mar 22, 2007 regarding bill S.Amdt.489 on S.Con.Res.21
Results: Amendment rejected 45-53
Voting YES would:
  1. require that the Federal Old Age and Survivors Trust Fund be used only to finance retirement income of future beneficiaries;
  2. ensure that there is no change to benefits for individuals born before January 1, 1951
  3. provide participants with the benefits of savings and investment while permitting the pre-funding of at least some portion of future benefits; and
  4. ensure that the funds made available to finance such legislation do not exceed the amounts estimated to be actuarially available.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

Perhaps the worst example of wasteful spending is when we take the taxes people pay for Social Security and, instead of saving them, we spend them on other things. Even worse than spending Social Security on other things is we do not count it as debt when we talk about the deficit every year. So using the Social Security money is actually a way to hide even more wasteful spending without counting it as debt. This Amendment would change that.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

This amendment has a fatal flaw. It leaves the door open for private Social Security accounts by providing participants with the option of "pre-funding of at least some portion of future benefits."

    This body has already closed the door on the President's ill-conceived plan for private Social Security accounts. The opposition to privatization is well-known:
  • Privatizing Social Security does nothing to extend the solvency of the program.
  • Transition costs would put our Nation in greater debt by as much as $4.9 trillion.
  • Creating private accounts would mean benefit cuts for retirees, by as much as 40%.
  • Half of all American workers today have no pension plan from their employers. It is critical that we protect this safety net.
Make no mistake about it, this is a stalking-horse for Social Security. It looks good on the surface, but this is an amendment to privatize Social Security.
Voting YES counts for 1 points on VoteMatch question 6:
Privatize Social Security;
Voting NO counts for -1 points on VoteMatch question 6.

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 2; NO 38
Republicans: YES 27; NO 2
Independents: YES 1; NO 1

Tax Reform
Senate BillVote descriptionVoteMatch UsageCandidate Voting
Vote number 08-S064 increasing tax rate for people earning over $1 million
on Mar 13, 2008 regarding bill S.Amdt.4218 to S.Con.Res.70
Results: Amendment rejected, 43-55
CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: To put children ahead of millionaires and billionaires by restoring the pre-2001 top income tax rate for people earning over $1 million, and use this revenue to invest in LIHEAP; IDEA; Head Start; Child Care; nutrition; school construction and deficit reduction.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. SANDERS: The wealthiest people in the country have not had it so good since the 1920s. Their incomes are soaring, while at the same time the middle class is shrinking, and we have by far the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country. The time is now to begin changing our national priorities and moving this country in a different direction.

This amendment restores the top income tax bracket for households earning more than $1 million a year, it raises $32.5 billion over 3 years, and invests that in our kids, including $10 billion for special education. OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Sen. KYL: The problem is we are spending the same dollar 3 or 4 times, it appears. The Sanders amendment is paid for by raising taxes another $32.5 billion, ostensibly from the rich; that is to say, by raising taxes on people who make over $1 million a year. Here is the problem with that. The budget on the floor already assumes the expiration of the current tax rates; that is to say, the rates on the highest level go from 35% to 39.6%, and that money is spent. If you took all the top-rate income, you would come up with $25 billion a year, not even enough to meet what is here, and that money has already been spent. The reality is somewhere or other, somehow, more taxes would have to be raised. I don't think the American people want to do that, particularly in the current environment. LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment rejected, 43-55

Voting YES counts for 2 points on VoteMatch question 11:
Make taxes more progressive;
Voting NO counts for -2 points on VoteMatch question 11.

Voting YES counts as answer D on AmericansElect question 1;
Voting NO counts as answer A on AmericansElect question 1.
Democrats: YES 31; NO 9
Republicans: YES 1; NO 28
Independents: YES 1; NO 1
Vote number 08-S078 allowing AMT reduction without budget offset
on Mar 13, 2008 regarding bill S.Amdt.4276 to S.Con.Res.70
Results: Amendment rejected, 47-51
CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY:To exempt from pay-as-you-go enforcement modifications to the individual alternative minimum tax (AMT) that prevent millions of additional taxpayers from having to pay the AMT.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. GRASSLEY: The Senate voted to make sure that middle-class America didn't pay the AMT, and we did it without an offset, by a vote of [about 95%]. So here we are again with an opportunity to say to middle-class America that we are not going to tax the people who were not supposed to be hit by the AMT. This amendment gives us an opportunity to get over that hurdle that is in this budget resolution that, under pay-go, you would have to have an offset for the AMT. Unless my amendment is adopted, the 25 million families who will be hit by the AMT increase will get a tax increase of over $2,000 apiece. They deserve a guarantee of relief.OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO: Sen. CONRAD: If you want to blow a hole in the budget as big as all outdoors, here is your opportunity--a trillion dollars not paid for, a trillion dollars that we are going to go out and borrow from the Chinese and Japanese. That makes absolutely no sense. I urge my colleagues to vote no.LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment rejected, 47-51

Voting NO counts for 1 points on VoteMatch question 11:
Make taxes more progressive;
Voting YES counts for -1 points on VoteMatch question 11.

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 1; NO 39
Republicans: YES 29; NO 1
Independents: YES 1; NO 1
Vote number 08-S050 raising the Death Tax exemption to $5M from $1M
on Feb 13, 2008 regarding bill S.Amdt.4191 to S.Con.Res.70 Kyl Amendment
Results: Amendment rejected, 50-50
CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY:To protect small businesses, family ranches and farms from the Death Tax by providing a $5 million exemption, a low rate for smaller estates and a maximum rate no higher than 35%.

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Sen. KYL: This amendment is a reprise of what we did last year in offering to reform the estate tax, sometimes referred to as the death tax. Now, in the budget itself, there is a provision to allow the death tax to be changed from the current law to a top rate of 45% and an exempted amount of $3.5 million, and there are some other features. My amendment would reduce that top rate to no higher than 35% so that if you had more than one rate, at least the top rate could not exceed 35%, and both of the two spouses would have a $5 million exempted amount before the estate tax would kick in. Now, the reason for my amendment is: current law [is] getting up to a high rate of 55% and an exempted amount of either $2 million or $1 million, probably $1 million--a continued unfair burden on primarily America's small businesses and farms.

OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Sen. CONRAD: This amendment would virtually eliminate the estate tax. Let me say why. Let me first say there is no death tax in the country. Of course, if you poll people and you ask them: Do you want to eliminate the death tax? they will say sure. But you are not going to pay any tax when you die unless you have $2 million. There is no death tax in America. There is a tax on estates. At today's level of $2 million, that affects only 0.5% of estates. When the exemption reaches $3.5 million in 2009, 0.2% of estates will be taxed. If the amendment is agreed to, we would be borrowing money in the name of 99.8% of the American people, borrowing primarily from China & Japan, to give it to the Warren Buffets, the Paris Hiltons, & others of enormous wealth in this country.

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Amendment rejected, 50-50

Voting NO counts for 2 points on VoteMatch question 11:
Make taxes more progressive;
Voting YES counts for -2 points on VoteMatch question 11.

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 3; NO 38
Republicans: YES 30; NO 0
Independents: YES 1; NO 1

Technology
Senate BillVote descriptionVoteMatch UsageCandidate Voting
Vote number 2007-406 $23B instead of $4.9B for waterway infrastructure
on Nov 8, 2007 regarding bill Veto override on H.R. 1495 Veto override on Water Resources Development Act
Results: Veto Overridden, 79-14 (2/3 required)
Vote on overriding Pres. Bush's veto. The bill reauthorizes the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA): to provide for the conservation and development of water and related resources, to authorize the Secretary of the Army to construct various projects for improvements to rivers and harbors of the United States. The bill authorizes flood control, navigation, and environmental projects and studies by the Army Corps of Engineers. Also authorizes projects for navigation, ecosystem or environmental restoration, and hurricane, flood, or storm damage reduction in 23 states including Louisiana.

Veto message from President Bush:

This bill lacks fiscal discipline. I fully support funding for water resources projects that will yield high economic and environmental returns. Each year my budget has proposed reasonable and responsible funding, including $4.9 billion for 2008, to support the Army Corps of Engineers' main missions. However, this authorization bill costs over $23 billion. This is not fiscally responsible, particularly when local communities have been waiting for funding for projects already in the pipeline. The bill's excessive authorization for over 900 projects and programs exacerbates the massive backlog of ongoing Corps construction projects, which will require an additional $38 billion in future appropriations to complete. This bill does not set priorities. I urge the Congress to send me a fiscally responsible bill that sets priorities.

(Not used in VoteMatch)

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 37; NO 2
Republicans: YES 21; NO 7
Independents: YES 2; NO 0

War & Peace
Senate BillVote descriptionVoteMatch UsageCandidate Voting
Vote number 2007-437 redeploying non-essential US troops out of Iraq in 9 months
on Dec 18, 2007 regarding bill S.AMDT.3875 to H.R.2764 Safe Redeployment Of US Troops From Iraq Amendment
Results: Rejected 24-71 (3/5 required)
Vote to transition the missions of US Forces in Iraq to a more limited set of missions as specified by the President on September 13, 2007: S.AMDT.3875 amends S.AMDT.3874 and underlying bill H.R.2764:
  • The President shall commence the safe, phased redeployment of members of the US Armed Forces from Iraq who are not essential to the [new limited mission].
  • Such redeployment shall begin not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.
  • No funds under any provision of law may be expended to continue the deployment in Iraq of members of the US Armed Forces after 9 months.

Proponents support voting YES because:

Sen. LEVIN: "The amendment requires redeployment be completed within 9 months. At that point, funding for the war would be ended, with four narrow exceptions:"

  1. Security for US Government personnel and infrastructure
  2. Training Iraqi security forces
  3. Equipment to US service men and women to ensure their safety
Targeted operations against members of al-Qaida.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Sen. McCAIN: "This year, after nearly 4 years of mismanaged war, our military has made significant gains under the so-called surge. Overall violence in Iraq has fallen to its lowest level since [2003]. Improvised explosive device blasts now occur at a rate lower than at any point since September 2004.

"Al-Qaida's leadership knows which side is winning in Iraq. It may not be known in some parts of America and in this body, but al-Qaida knows. We are succeeding under the new strategy.

"Given these realities, some proponents of precipitous withdrawal from Iraq have shifted their focus. While conceding, finally, that there have been dramatic security gains, they have begun seizing on the lackluster performance of the Iraqi Government to insist that we should abandon the successful strategy and withdraw U.S. forces. This would be a terrible mistake."

Voting YES counts for 1 points on VoteMatch question 17:
US out of Iraq & Afghanistan;
Voting NO counts for -1 points on VoteMatch question 17.

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 21; NO 17
Republicans: YES 0; NO 30
Independents: YES 1; NO 1
Vote number 2007-349 designating Iran's Revolutionary Guards as terrorists
on Sep 26, 2007 regarding bill S.Amdt. 3017 to H.R. 1585 Sense of the Senate on Iran
Results: Agreed to, 76-22 (3/5 required)
Vote on a "Sense of the Senate" amendment, S.Amdt. 3017, to H.R. 1585 (National Defense Authorization Act), that finds:
  • that it is a vital US national interest to prevent the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran from turning Shi'a militia extremists in Iraq into a Hezbollah-like force;
  • that it should be US policy to combat, contain, and roll back the violent activities and destabilizing influence inside Iraq of the Government of Iran;
  • to support the prudent and calibrated use of all instruments of power in Iraq, including diplomatic, economic, intelligence, and military instruments, in support of the policy;
  • that the US should designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a foreign terrorist organization.

Proponents support voting YES because:

Sen. LIEBERMAN: Some of our colleagues thought the Sense of the Senate may have opened the door to some kind of military action against Iran [so we removed some text]. That is not our intention. In fact, our intention is to increase the economic pressure on Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps so that we will never have to consider the use of the military to stop them from what they are doing to kill our soldiers.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Sen. BIDEN. I will oppose the Kyl-Lieberman amendment for one simple reason: this administration cannot be trusted. I am very concerned about the evidence that suggests that Iran is engaged in destabilizing activities inside Iraq. Arguably, if we had a different President who abided by the meaning and intent of laws we pass, I might support this amendment. I fear, however, that this President might use the designation of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist entity as a pretext to use force against Iran as he sees fit. [The same was done with the Senate resolution on Iraq in 2002]. Given this President's actions and misuse of authority, I cannot support the amendment.

(Not used in VoteMatch)

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 25; NO 15
Republicans: YES 28; NO 1
Independents: YES 1; NO 1

Welfare & Poverty
Senate BillVote descriptionVoteMatch UsageCandidate Voting
Vote number 2009-S115 instituting National Service as a new social invention
on Mar 26, 2009 regarding bill H.R. 1388 Serve America Act/GIVE Act
Results: Passed 79-19
Congressional Summary:Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education (GIVE) Act:
    Adds to National and Community Service Act of 1990 (NCSA) purposes:
  1. providing year-round opportunities in service-learning;
  2. involving program participants in emergency and disaster preparedness, relief, and recovery;
  3. increasing service opportunities for retiring professionals;
  4. encouraging service by individuals age 55 or older and continued service by national service alumni;
  5. focusing national service on the areas of national need.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Sen. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D, MD): [In developing national service over many years] we were not in the business of creating another new social program. What we were in the business of was creating a new social invention. What do I mean by that? In our country, we are known for our technological inventions. But also often overlooked, and sometimes undervalued, is our social inventions.

We created national service to let young people find opportunity to be of service and also to make an important contribution. But not all was rosy. In 2003, when I was the ranking member on the appropriations subcommittee funding national service, they created a debacle. One of their most colossal errors was that they enrolled over 20,000 volunteers and could not afford to pay for it. That is how sloppy they were in their accounting. I called them the "Enron of nonprofits."

And they worked on it. But all that is history. We are going to expand AmeriCorps activity into specialized corps. One, an education corps; another, a health futures corps; another, a veterans corps; and another called opportunity corps. These are not outside of AmeriCorps. They will be subsets because we find this is where compelling human need is and at the same time offers great opportunity for volunteers to do it.

Opponent's argument to vote No:No senators spoke against the amendment.

(Not used in VoteMatch)

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 47; NO 0
Republicans: YES 16; NO 16
Independents: YES 2; NO 0
Vote number 1996-262 welfare block grants
on Aug 1, 1996 regarding bill H.R. 3734 Conference Report on H.R. 3734
Results: Y)78; N)21; NV)1 Conf Rpt Agreed to
Replacement of federal welfare guarantee with block grants to the states. Voting YES counts for 1 points on VoteMatch question 20:
Allow churches to provide welfare services;
Voting NO counts for -1 points on VoteMatch question 20.

(Not used by AmericansElect)
Democrats: YES 20; NO 18
Republicans: YES 42; NO 0
Independents: YES 3; NO 0


                                                                                                                                                                               
  

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