In this MegaVote for Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District:

Recent Congressional Votes

  • Senate: FDA User Fee Reauthorization
  • Senate: Student Loan Interest Rates – Republican Substitute
  • Senate: Student Loan Interest Rates – Democratic Version

Upcoming Congressional Bills

  • House: Food and Drug Administration Reform Act of 2012
  • House: Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) of 2012
  • House: National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act
  • House: Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013
  • House: Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Editor’s Note: The Senate is in recess this week.

Recent Senate Votes
FDA User Fee Reauthorization – Vote Passed (96-1, 3 Not Voting)

After extensive wrangling between the parties about which amendments would be allowed a floor vote, the Senate last week passed a bill to reauthorize Food and Drug Administration user fees for five years. The FDA relies on the fees, levied primarily on the pharmaceutical and medical device industries, to fund reviews of those same industries’ products. Two new user fee programs, for generic and generic biologic drugs, would be created under the bill. The bill would also permanently reauthorize programs to encourage the development of drugs for pediatric patients. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., was the lone “no” vote. He felt the bill did not do enough to lower the cost of prescription drugs (An amendment introduced by John McCain, R-Ariz., to allow importation of prescription drugs from Canada, failed 43-54, Senate Roll Call #108). The House will debate its version of the reauthorization this week. President Obama has endorsed the Senate bill. The current authorization expires September 30, and leaders of both parties have prioritized getting this item to the president well ahead of time.

Sen. Daniel Inouye voted YES……send e-mail or see bio
Sen. Daniel Akaka voted YES……send e-mail or see bio


Student Loan Interest Rates – Republican Substitute – Vote Rejected (34-62, 1 Present, 3 Not Voting)

Part of the deal for bringing the FDA user fee bill to the floor was allowing a vote on the GOP version of legislation to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling. Republicans offered a substitute amendment to a bill that Majority Leader Harry Reid had brought to the floor earlier this month. Closely mirroring bills already passed in the House and introduced previously by the Senate GOP (H.R.4628, S.2366), the substitute would pay for maintaining current interest rates by eliminating a preventive health fund created by the 2010 health care overhaul. An agreement between Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell required 60 votes for passage.

Sen. Daniel Inouye voted NO……send e-mail or see bio
Sen. Daniel Akaka voted NO……send e-mail or see bio


Student Loan Interest Rates – Democratic Version – Vote Rejected (51-43, 1 Present, 5 Not Voting)

Immediately after rejecting the Republican substitute, the Senate moved on to rejecting the Democrats’ version. The Democrats would pay for their bill by eliminating a tax preference for certain shareholders of S Corporations. This is the second time S.2343 was voted on but the first time the bill itself was considered; on May 8 the Republicans successfully filibustered a motion to proceed (Senate Roll Call Number 89). With the House having passed its version, it is up to the Senate to pass a bill that could at least be the basis of some sort of compromise. Rates are set to go up on July 1.

Sen. Daniel Inouye voted YES……send e-mail or see bio
Sen. Daniel Akaka voted YES……send e-mail or see bio


Upcoming Votes
Food and Drug Administration Reform Act of 2012 – H.R.5651

As noted above, the House will take up its version of the FDA user fee reauthorization this week. It will be considered under suspension of the rules, indicating it is expected to pass easily.


Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) of 2012 – H.R.3541

This bill would prohibit performing abortions based on the sex of the child. It sparked fireworks every step of the way as it wound through the Judiciary Committee, and the floor debate on Wednesday should prove equally lively.


National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act – H.R.5740

Before breaking last week, the Senate passed by unanimous consent an amended version of this bill to extend the National Flood Insurance Program. The amendment would extend the program’s coverage through July and exclude second and vacation homes from receiving subsidized rates. Both chambers continue to search for a path forward on a long-term reauthorization.


Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 – H.R.5743

This bill would reauthorize the programs of U.S. spy agencies.


Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013 – H.R.5854

This would be the second appropriations bill considered by the House this year. Usually one of the least controversial appropriations measures, “MilCon-VA” funds veterans’ health programs and construction of military facilities in the U.S. and abroad. One interesting note: unlike the Commerce-Justice-Science measure that passed May 10, this bill will not be given an open rule, meaning the opportunity to offer amendments on the floor will be limited.

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MegaVote is a free weekly e-mail which tells you how your representatives in Congress voted in plain English on the important issues. Votes are chosen by the staff of CQ Roll Call. You can sign up at www.congress.org/megavote and see more at http://www.congress.org/congressorg/megavote/