Jeff Sessions on Government Reform
Republican Jr Senator (AL)
Committed to principled, non-activist judges
Senator Sessions is committed to the prompt confirmation of principled, non-activist judges who are committed to the rule of law and to being neutral “umpires” for all parties that come before them.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.jeffsessions.com, “Issues”
, Mar 2, 2008
Supreme Court exceeds its authority and needs reining in
SEN. SESSIONS: I asked Chief Justice Roberts about activism by the court, overreaching by the court, and he felt that this overreaching created a danger that it could undermine respect for law in our country. Do you share that view?
ALITO: I agree
that overreaching by the courts can undermine respect for law. Nobody elects us. Our job is to interpret the Constitution, it has a meaning, and you apply it to the situations that come up.
SESSIONS: I feel that the court on some very important issues
is exceeding its authority. People are calling on me and those of us in Congress to do something about it.
ALITO: I think your policy views are much more legitimate than the policy views of the judiciary because members of Congress are elected for the
purpose of formulating and implementing public policy and members of the judiciary are appointed for the purpose of interpreting and applying the law.
Source: Sam Alito Senate Confirmation Hearings
, Jan 11, 2006
Voted NO on Congressional pay raise.
Makes appropriations to the Senate for FY2010 for: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.
- expense allowances;
- representation allowances for the Majority and Minority Leaders;
- salaries of specified officers, employees, and committees (including the Committee on Appropriations);
- agency contributions for employee benefits;
- inquiries and investigations;
- the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control;
- the Offices of the Secretary and of the Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper of the Senate;
- miscellaneous items;
- the Senators' Official Personnel and Office Expense Account; and
- official mail costs.
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.
Reference: Legislative Branch Appropriations Act;
; vote number 2009-S217
on Jul 6, 2009
Voted NO on providing a US House seat for the District of Columbia.
- 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.
Reference: District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act;
; vote number 2009-S073
on Feb 26, 2009
Voted NO on granting the District of Columbia a seat in Congress.
Cloture vote on the District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act:
[Washington DC currently has a "delegate" to the US House, whose vote does not count. Utah had complained that the 2000 census did not count many Utahns on Mormon missions abroad].
- Considers D.C. a congressional district for purposes of representation in the House.
- D.C. shall not be considered a state for representation in the Senate.
- Limits D.C. to one Member under any reapportionment.
- Increases membership of the House from 435 to 437.
- Entitles Utah to one additional Representative until the next census, and modifies the reapportionment formula thereafter.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Sen. BYRD: In 1978, I voted for H.J. Res. 554, that proposed amending the Constitution to provide for representation of D.C. [That amendment passed the Senate but was not ratified by the States]. While I recognize that others believe that the Constitution authorizes the
Congress to "exercise exclusive legislation" over D.C., the historical intent of the Founders on this point is unclear. I oppose S.1257, because I doubt that our Nation's Founding Fathers ever intended that the Congress should be able to change the text of the Constitution by passing a simple bill.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. HATCH. There are conservative and liberal advocates on both sides of this issue,and think most people know Utah was not treated fairly after the last census. For those who are so sure this is unconstitutional, [we include an] expedited provision that will get us to the Supreme Court to make an appropriate decision. It will never pass as a constitutional amendment. There are 600,000 people in D.C., never contemplated by the Founders of this country to be without the right to vote. They are the only people in this country who do not have a right to vote for their own representative in the House. This bill would remedy that situation.
Reference: District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act;
Bill S. 1257
; vote number 2007-339
on Sep 18, 2007
Voted YES on requiring photo ID to vote in federal elections.
Vote on Dole Amdt. S.2350, amending SP2350 (via the College Cost Reduction Act): To amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require individuals voting in person to present photo identification.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Sen. DOLE. I am proposing a commonsense measure to uphold the integrity of Federal elections. My amendment to require voters to show photo identification at the polls would go a long way in minimizing potential for voter fraud. When a fraudulent vote is cast and counted, the vote of a legitimate voter is cancelled. This is wrong, and my amendment would help ensure that one of the hallmarks of our democracy, our free and fair elections, is protected. Opinion polls repeatedly confirm that Americans overwhelmingly support this initiative.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Sen. FEINSTEIN. If one would want to suppress the vote in the 2008 election, one would vote for this because this measure goes into effect January 1, 2008. It provides that everybody who votes essentially would have to have a photo ID. If you want to suppress the minority vote, the elderly vote, the poor vote, this is exactly the way to do it. Many of these people do not have driver's licenses. This amendment would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to actually carry out. It goes into effect--surprise--January 1, 2008 [to affect the presidential election]. I urge a "no" vote.
Reference: Dole Amendment to the Help America Vote Act;
Bill S.2350, amending SP2350
; vote number 2007-269
on Jul 19, 2007
Voted NO on allowing some lobbyist gifts to Congress.
A motion to table (kill) an amendment to clarify the application of the gift rule to lobbyists. Voting NAY would define employees of lobbying companies as registered lobbyists and therefore subject to the gift ban. Voting YEA would apply the gift ban only to specific people who registered as lobbyists.
Proponents of the amendment say to vote NAY on the tabling motion because:
Reference: Feingold Amendment to Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act;
Bill S.Amdt.2962 to S.2349
; vote number 2006-080
on Mar 29, 2006
- Using the term "registered lobbyist'' will create a huge loophole. The Ethics Committee treats the actual listed lobbyists as registered lobbyists, but not the organization.
- So, for example, a company can give a Senator free tickets to a show or a baseball game, as long as a lobbyist doesn't actually offer or handle them. If the lobbyist's secretary makes the call, that would be permitted.
- If these companies can still give gifts, we won't have a real lobbyist gift ban. We won't be able to look the American people in the eye and say, "We just banned gifts from lobbyists,'' because we didn't.
Voted NO on establishing the Senate Office of Public Integrity.
An amendment to establish the Senate Office of Public Integrity. Voting YEA would establish the new office, and voting NAY would keep ethics investigations within the existing Senate Ethics Committee.
Proponents of the bill say to vote YEA because:
- We have heard from the media about the bribes and scandals, but we have heard only silence from the House Ethics Committee. One of the greatest travesties of these scandals is not what Congress did, but what it didn't do.
- The American people perceive the entire ethics system--House and Senate--to be broken. We can pass all the ethics reforms we want--gift bans, travel bans, lobbying restrictions--but none of them will make a difference if there isn't a nonpartisan, independent body that will help us enforce those laws.
- The Office of Public Integrity established in this amendment would provide a voice that cannot be silenced by political pressures. It would have the power to initiate independent investigations
and bring its findings to the Ethics Committees in a transparent manner.
Opponents of the bill say to vote NAY because:
Reference: Collins Amendment to Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act;
Bill S.Amdt.3176 to S.2349
; vote number 2006-077
on Mar 28, 2006
- The Constitution gave us not only the right but the duty to create our own rules, including the rules concerning our ethics. They are enforced internally by the Senate itself.
- The decisions made under this amendment would be no different than right now. The final decision will be made by the Senate Ethics Committee. All this really does is find a way to further publicize that complaints have been made.
- We have people accusing us almost daily of having done something wrong and publishing it through blogs and all that. I think we should be very careful in setting up another tool for these bloggers to create more charges against the Senate.
- I cannot support an amendment that either replaces the Senate Ethics Committee or adds another layer to our already expensive and time-consuming process. I urge the Senate to defeat this provision.
Voted NO on banning "soft money" contributions and restricting issue ads.
Vote on passage of H.R. 2356; Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (Shays-Meehan bill, House equivalent of McCain-Feingoldf bill). Vote to ban “soft money” contributions to national political parties but permit up to $10,000 in soft money contributions to state and local parties to help with voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives. The bill would stop issue ads from targeting specific candidates within 30 days of the primary or 60 days of the general election. Additionally, the bill would raise the individual contribution limit from $1,000 to $2,000 per election for House and Senate candidates, both of which would be indexed for inflation.
; vote number 2002-54
on Mar 20, 2002
Voted YES on require photo ID (not just signature) for voter registration.
Motion to Table Schumer Amdt. No. 2937; To permit the use of a signature or personal mark for the purpose of verifying the identity of voters who register by mail, and for other purposes. Voting Yes would kill the amendment. The amendment would allow a signature to identify voters who register by mail, instead of requiring showing photo identification or other proof of residence before being allowed to vote.
; vote number 2002-38
on Feb 27, 2002
Voted NO on banning campaign donations from unions & corporations.
Vote to ban soft money donations to political parties and forbid corporate general funds and union general funds from being spent on issue ads. The bill would increase the individual contribution limit to candidates from $1,000 to $2,000.
; vote number 2001-64
on Apr 2, 2001
Voted NO on funding for National Endowment for the Arts.
This table motion would end debate on an amendment aimed at funding for the National Endowment for the Arts. Support for the motion to table is a vote for NEA funding. [YES to table means supporting the NEA; NO means defunding the NEA].
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)80; N)16; NV)4
Reference: Motion to table Smith Amdt #1569;
Bill H.R. 2466
; vote number 1999-260
on Aug 5, 1999
Voted NO on favoring 1997 McCain-Feingold overhaul of campaign finance.
Support of the campaign finance bill proposed by Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Feingold (D-WI).
Status: Cloture Motion Rejected Y)53; N)47
Reference: Campaign Finance Reform Bill;
Bill S. 25
; vote number 1997-267
on Oct 7, 1997
Ensure delivery of absentee ballots for troops overseas.
Sessions co-sponsored ensuring delivery of absentee ballots for troops overseas
A bill to improve procedures for the collection and delivery of absentee ballots of absent overseas uniformed services voters. Congress makes the following findings:
- In the defense of freedom, members of the United States Armed Forces are routinely deployed to overseas locations.
- We live in what senior Army leaders have referred to as an 'era of persistent conflict'.
- The right to vote is one of the most basic and fundamental rights enjoyed by Americans, and one which the members of the Armed Forces bravely defend.
- The ability of the members of the Armed Forces to vote while serving overseas has been hampered by numerous factors, including inadequate processes for ensuring their timely receipt of absentee ballots, delivery methods that are typically slow and antiquated, and a myriad of absentee voting procedures that are often confusing.
- The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, which requires the States to allow absentee voting for members of the
Armed Forces and other specified groups of United States citizens, was intended to protect the voting rights of members of the Armed Forces.
- 992,034 absentee ballots were requested in the 2006 general election. However, less than one-third of such ballots were ultimately received by local election officials, evidencing an unacceptable failure of the current absentee ballot system.
- Modern technology continues to rapidly advance, greatly expanding the range of potential solutions to these problems and increasing the ability to remove obstacles encountered by overseas members of the Armed Forces in the past in trying to cast their votes; [specifically]:
Source: S.3073 08-S3073 on May 22, 2008
- Collection- establish procedures for collecting absentee ballots
- Ensuring Delivery Prior to Closing of Polls- ensure that any absentee ballot which is collected prior to the applicable deadline is delivered prior to the time established by the State for the closing of the polls on the date of the election.
Ban paid voter registration.
Sessions signed Voter Fraud Prevention Act
A bill to amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to establish standards for the distribution of voter registration application forms and to require organizations to register with the State prior to the distribution of such forms.
Prohibits any individual from distributing, for compensation, a voter registration application form for federal elections in a state if the individual:
Excepts from this prohibition the distribution of a voter registration application form by an individual who is not compensated directly or indirectly for it.
- has been convicted of a felony under any state or federal law;
- does not sign and print legibly the individual's name on the form;
- does not provide identifying information to the proper election official; or
- does not certify, under penalty of perjury, that he or she has not received financial compensation based on the number of voter registration application forms submitted by the individual to an election official upon completion by the applicant, and that the information provided by the individual is accurate to the best of the individual's knowledge.
Establishes criminal penalties for: (1) individuals not meeting such standards; and (2) anyone who employs such an individual knowingly, or who should reasonably be expected to know the individual is ineligible.
Source: S.1103 2009-S1103 on May 20, 2009
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