How Hawaii’s Elected Officials Voted – September 18, 2012

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In this MegaVote for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District:


Recent Congressional Votes

  • House: Minnesota Land Exchange
  • House: Government Surveillance Authorities
  • House: Sequestration Replacement
  • House: Continuing Resolution
  • House: Energy Department Loan Guarantees

Upcoming Congressional Bills

  • Senate: Veterans Jobs Corps Act of 2012
  • Senate: Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2013
  • House: Welfare waiver disapproval
  • House: STEM Jobs Act of 2012
  • House: Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012

Recent House Votes

Minnesota Land Exchange – Vote Passed (225-189, 15 Not Voting)

This bill would facilitate a land exchange between the federal government and the state of Minnesota. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area wilderness in northern Minnesota is currently segmented by state-owned lands; the bill would instruct the secretary of Agriculture to exchange unspecified federal land elsewhere within the state for about 86,000 acres of state-held land in the wilderness. The bill is controversial among House Democrats because it bypasses normal processes for environmental review and land value appraisal and would grandfather in certain activities such as hunting and fishing on the land being converted from state to federal. (Hunting and fishing are normally prohibited in federal wilderness areas.) A handful of Democratic amendments to reverse these changes were defeated. The bill’s prospects in the Senate are unclear.

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa voted NO……send e-mail or see bio

Rep. Mazie Hirono voted Not Voting……send e-mail or see bio

Government Surveillance Authorities – Vote Passed (301-118, 10 Not Voting)

This bill reauthorizes the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) through 2017. FISA permits the Attorney General and Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to authorize warrantless surveillance of foreign terrorism suspects who are based overseas. The law sets the rules of the road, broadly speaking, for intelligence agencies engaged in these spying activities. The bill prohibits the spying power from being used to target persons in the United States, and the program is subject to oversight by the congressional Judiciary and Intelligence committees and a special court. Almost all Republicans voting backed passage, while a majority of Democrats (111) voted against the bill. Senate Intelligence committee chair Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has been pushing for reauthorization in the other chamber, but has met resistance from fellow committee member Ron Wyden, D-Ore. Wyden wants to know how many American citizens have been targeted by the spy program and has placed a hold on the Senate’s reauthorization measure until he has an answer. The White House strongly backs the bill.

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa voted YES……send e-mail or see bio

Rep. Mazie Hirono voted Not Voting……send e-mail or see bio

Sequestration Replacement – Vote Passed (223-196, 10 Not Voting)

There is increasing concern in Congress over the looming “sequester,” or automatic spending cuts, slated to begin on January 2, 2013. These cuts were triggered after the so-called “supercommittee” created by last year’s debt-ceiling deal failed to find $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction. Republicans have expressed particular concern over the cuts to defense spending, which would amount to roughly $500 billion over 10 years without changes to current law. H.R. 6365, the National Security and Job Protection Act, represents the second attempt by the House to replace the sequester. (The first sequester replacement bill, H.R. 5652, Roll Call 247, was passed in May.) The bill instructs President Obama to submit to Congress by October 15 a plan to replace all discretionary and mandatory defense spending cuts (but not domestic mandatory cuts to programs such as Medicare) scheduled to occur next year. Such a plan could not include any revenue increases. Upon enactment of the replacement cuts, the overall level of authorized spending for FY 2013 would be reduced by $19 billion, which would bring the total amount in line with the House Republican budget resolution passed in April. Finally, the bill would eliminate the separate caps on defense and non-defense spending for subsequent years of the sequester, potentially allowing increases in defense spending even as the rest of the budget is reduced. The president has threatened to veto the bill, though it will likely not be brought up in the Senate anyway.

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa voted NO……send e-mail or see bio

Rep. Mazie Hirono voted NO……send e-mail or see bio

Continuing Resolution – Vote Passed (329-91, 9 Not Voting)

The only “must-pass” bill on the congressional ledger before election season fully takes over is a measure to fund the government beyond September 30. Prior to the August recess, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. announced an agreement in principle to fund the government for six months. The House did its part last week, passing six-month CR with an overwhelming majority. The resolution sets FY 13 annualized spending at $1.047 trillion, roughly in line with the level set by last year’s debt ceiling agreement. Democrats claimed a tactical victory as the House Republican budget passed earlier this year had set a lower spending level. The perceived tradeoff for Republicans is that, if they win control of the Senate next year and retain the House majority, they will have a freer hand in writing spending bills. While most programs receive a nominal increase in funding from the CR, a handful, including wildfire suppression, cybersecurity, and veterans’ benefits, would receive more substantial boosts. There is also about $88.5 billion in war funding and $6.4 billion in disaster relief, neither of which count against the overall cap. The resolution is likely to pass quickly in the Senate and has the White House’s backing; however, one potential snag is a decrease in surface transportation funding from the level in the reauthorization passed in July. Senator Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who chaired the conference committee on that bill, has already expressed concern on that front.

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa voted YES……send e-mail or see bio

Rep. Mazie Hirono voted YES……send e-mail or see bio

Energy Department Loan Guarantees – Vote Passed (245-161, 23 Not Voting)

The last piece of business for the House last week was a bill to effectively end the Energy Department’s (DOE) loan guarantee program for renewable and “innovative” energy projects. Dubbed the “No More Solyndras Act,” the bill is a response to the bankruptcy of the solar panel manufacturer of the same name, which resulted in a $535 million loss to taxpayers. It would forbid DOE from considering applications that had been submitted after December 31, 2011, and would put in place a new set of procedures for applications submitted prior to that date, including placement of all such applications under review by the Treasury Department. Passage of the bill was mostly along party lines, though 22 Democrats, mostly hailing from more conservative districts, did support the measure. The bill is unlikely to be taken up by the Senate.

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa voted NO……send e-mail or see bio

Rep. Mazie Hirono voted NO……send e-mail or see bio

Upcoming Votes

Veterans Jobs Corps Act of 2012 – S.3457

The Senate spent most of its time last week on this measure sponsored by Bill Nelson, D-Fla. It would create a veterans jobs corps to expedite and enhance employment opportunities in the public and private sector. After voting last week to proceed to the bill, Majority Leader Reid introduced a substitute amendment from Veterans Affairs committee chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., and filed cloture on the substitute. There is currently agreement to hold a series of votes on Wednesday September 19, on a budget point of order regarding the Murray amendment; a motion to waive the point of order; cloture on the amendment (assuming the point of order is waived); and final passage of the bill (assuming cloture is invoked).


Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2013 – H.J.RES.117

The Senate will take up the six-month CR following their work on the veterans jobs bill. A cloture vote is scheduled for Thursday, September 20.


Welfare waiver disapproval – H.J.RES.118

This disapproval resolution would overturn modifications that the Health and Human Services Department made to federal welfare rules in July.


STEM Jobs Act of 2012 –

This bill introduced by Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Tex., would make changes to immigration rules to encourage foreign recipients of doctorate and Master’s degrees in so-called STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math) to stay and work in the U.S.


Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012 – H.R.3409

This bill includes a number of measures previously passed by the House under the umbrella of a bill recently cleared by the Natural Resources committee. The “parent” bill would effectively prevent the Interior department from issuing new regulations on coal mines until December 31, 2013.