Congressional Summary:Makes appropriations to the Senate for FY2010 for:
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;
the Senators' Official Personnel and Office Expense Account; and
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.
Reference: Legislative Branch Appropriations Act;
; vote number 2009-H413
on Jun 19, 2009
Voted NO on prohibiting lawsuits about obesity against food providers.
The Personal Responsibility in Food Consumption Act ("The Cheesburger Bill") would prevent civil liability actions against food manufacturers, marketers, distributors, advertisers, sellers, and trade associations for claims relating to a person's weight gain, obesity, or any health condition associated with weight gain or obesity. A YES vote would:
Prohibit such lawsuits in this act in federal or state courts
Dismiss any pending lawsuits upon this bill's enactment
Maintain an individual's right to bring a lawsuit to court for false marketing, advertising or labeling of food when such information led to injury, obesity or weight gain
Reference: The Cheesburger Bill;
Bill HR 554
; vote number 2005-533
on Oct 19, 2005
Voted YES on limiting attorney's fees in class action lawsuits.
Class Action Fairness Act of 2005: Amends the Federal judicial code to specify the calculation of contingent and other attorney's fees in proposed class action settlements that provide for the award of coupons to class members. Allows class members to refuse compliance with settlement agreements or consent decrees absent notice. Prohibits a Federal district court from approving:
a proposed coupon settlement absent a finding that the settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate;
a proposed settlement involving payments to class counsel that would result in a net monetary loss to class members, absent a finding that the loss is substantially outweighed by nonmonetary benefits; or
a proposed settlement that provides greater sums to some class members solely because they are closer geographically to the court.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Sen. Chuck Grassley [R, IA];
; vote number 2005-038
on Feb 17, 2005
Voted NO on restricting frivolous lawsuits.
Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2004: Amends the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to:
require courts to impose sanctions on attorneys, law firms, or parties who file frivolous lawsuits (currently, sanctions are discretionary);
disallow the withdrawal or correction of pleadings to avoid sanctions;
require courts to award parties prevailing on motions reasonable expenses and attorney's fees, if warranted;
authorize courts to impose sanctions that include reimbursement of a party's reasonable litigation costs in connection with frivolous lawsuits; and
make the discovery phase of litigation subject to sanctions.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Rep Lamar Smith [R, TX-21];
; vote number 2004-450
on Sep 14, 2004
Voted YES on campaign finance reform banning soft-money contributions.
Shays-Meehan Campaign Finance Overhaul: Vote to pass a bill that would 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.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Shays, R-CT, and Meehan D-MA;
Bill HR 2356
; vote number 2002-34
on Feb 14, 2002
Voted NO on banning soft money donations to national political parties.
Support a ban on soft money donations to national political parties but allow up to $10,000 in soft-money donations to state and local parties for voter registration and get-out-the vote activity.
Campaign Finance Reform Act to ban "soft money" and impose restrictions on issue advocacy campaigning.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Shays, R-CT;
Bill HR 417
; vote number 1999-422
on Sep 14, 1999
Ban stock trading based on Congressional insider knowledge.
Costello co-sponsored STOCK Act
Congressional Summary:Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (STOCK Act): Amends the Securities Exchange Act and the Commodity Exchange Act to prohibit purchase or sale of either securities or commodities by a person in possession of material nonpublic information regarding pending or prospective legislative action.
Amends the Ethics in Government Act to require formal disclosure of certain securities and commodities futures transactions.
Amends the Lobbying Disclosure Act to subject to its registration, reporting, and disclosure requirements all political intelligence activities, contacts, firms, and consultants.
Bill explanation (ProCon.org, "Insider Trading by Congress", Feb. 3, 2012):
On Mar. 17, 2011, Tim Walz (D-MN) introduced the STOCK Act where it gained nine co-sponsors by Nov. 4, 2011.
On Nov. 13, 2011, the TV show "60 Minutes" reported that several members of
Congress allegedly used insider information for personal gain. The STOCK Act received 84 additional House co-sponsors in the five days following the report, and Scott Brown (R-MA) filed the STOCK Act in the Senate on Nov. 15, 2011. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) also filed a variation of the STOCK Act in the Senate on Nov. 17, 2011.
On Jan. 24, 2012, in his State of the Union Address, President Obama said "Send me a bill that bans insider trading by members of Congress, and I will sign it tomorrow."
Immediately after the speech, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told reporters, "I think people should have enough sense not to do it [insider trading] without legislation, but I will support legislation."
On Feb. 2, 2012, a revised version of the STOCK Act passed in the Senate by a vote of 96-3 with Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Tom Coburn (R-OK), and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) dissenting.