Congressional Quarterly Wrap up

Senate

May  

-Passed the Iran Nuclear agreement by a 98-1 margin with both Kaine and Warner voting for.

-Approved the Republican 10 year fiscal plan with Warner and Kaine voting against it.

NOTE: this plan is essentially an updated version of the 2012 “Ryan Budget,” which calls for never raising taxes, repealing the ACA (with no mention of a replacement), and reducing social programs like Medicaid and Food Stamps where ever possible.

Thus far the only apparent difference between these two is that one is  a 10 page coloring book of recycled ideas, and the other is longer.

-Take up discussion of HR 1314 Commercial Modernization Act (oil spills) 65-33 with both Kaine and Warner voting to send it to  committee

June    

-HR 2046 Voted to curb NSA bulk collection with both Kaine and Warner voting for.

-HR 2146 Passed the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) by a 60-38 margin with both Warner and Kaine voting for it. This clears the path for Congress to “fast track” international trade agreements like the TPP.

-HR 1735 Passed the Military budget with both Kaine and Warner voting for.

Failed to block Republican plans to keep a 50 + Billion dollar slush fund by a  46-51 margin with both Warner and Kaine voting against it.

-HR 2393 Approved format of TTP “debate” with Warner and Kaine voting for it

July    

-S 1177 Extend funding for K-12 education by a 81-17 margin with Warner and Kaine voting for it

Failed to defeat amendment to modify use of Title I fund, by 45-51 since it did not reach minimum of 60 votes for floor discussion with both Warner and Kaine voting against it

NOTE: This part of an ongoing dispute over the portability of Federal Title I funds, which could be “redirected” for school voucher programs.

-HR 1735 additional military cyber security funding failed to advance by a 56-40 vote….did not reach a minimum of 60 with Warner and Kaine voting against it

_HR 22 Start debate on Transportation bill 62-36 with both Warner and Kaine voting for it

Failed to pass amended automated train safety funding for ~ $ 750 mil with Warner and Kaine voting yes

  • S 2327 Kept Export-Import Bank funding alive by a 67-26  vote with Warner and Kaine voting yes.

NOTE: There has been some talk of tacking the Export-Import funding bill which expired on 6/30 onto the Highway trust fund bill (which will expire on 7/31) that the House and Senate are currently fighting over.

The House is only offering to fund the transportation bill (HR 3038) for 5 months, while the Senate has worked out a 3 year deal. What will transpire between now and the end of the week is anyone’s guess.

-S 2328 Blocked Republican efforts to repeal the ACA by a 49-43 vote. This bill needed 60 votes to come to Senate floor for a vote with both Warner and Kaine voting against it.

 

House

May  

-Senate Resolution 11- Passed the  Republican 10 year fiscal plan by a  226-197 vote with Brat and Hurt voting for it.

NOTE: this plan is essentially an updated version of the 2012 “Ryan Budget,” which calls for never raising taxes, repealing the ACA (with no mention of a replacement), and reducing social programs like Medicaid and Food Stamps where ever possible.

-HR 2028 Passed Republican energy budget 240-177 with Brat and Hurt voting for it.

Defeated amendment for clean energy by a 139-282 margin with both Brat and Hurt voting yes.

-HR 2029 Pass VA budget – (Brat & Hurt-Yes) with no funding for construction of additional VA facilities

Defeated the use of medical marijuana by VA patients by 210-213 margin with Brat and Hurt voting against it

-HR 2353 passed funding the highway trust fund for an additional 5 weeks by a 387-36 vote with Brat and Hurt voting for it.

Defeated an amendment for $ 750 M for positive train control (reduce wrecks) by a 182-241 (margin with Brat and Hurt voting against it.

-HR 880 Passed Research tax credit for business 274-145 (Brat & Hurt-Yes)

-HR 1806 Passed funding for science and technology research with Brat and Hurt voting for it.

NOTE: This bill has deep cuts in funding for energy efficiency & renewable along with setting the stage for Congress to micromanage the National Science Foundations mission, just as they have done in the past with NASA and the EPA

-HR 2048 Approve curbing NSA bulk collection of personal data by a  338-88 vote (Hurt -yes, Brat-no)

-HR 36 Passed fetal pain bill

Enacted stricter abortion limits by 242-184 vote with Hurt and Brat voting for it. There are some provisions for exceptions due to rape/incest or serious health issues.

Defeated Democratic health exemptions on this bill by a 181-246 vote with Hurt and Brat voting against

-HR 1732 Killed EPA water safety standards by a 261-155 vote with Brat and Hurt voting for it.

Defeated amendment to protect drinking water by a  175-241 vote, with Brat and Hurt voting against it.

-HR 1191 Passed House funding of Iran Nuclear deal 400-25   (Hurt- yes, Brat – no)

-HR 1735 Passed Military budget by a 269-151 vote with Brat and Hurt voting for it.

Defeated closing Guantanamo Bay by a 174-239 vote with Brat and Hurt voting against it.

NOTE: There is considerable tension in the House over Military funding as Republicans are doing everything they can to maintain a 50+ Billion dollar slush fund, known as the Overseas Contingency Fund which can be used for virtually everything from weapons programs to jump starting another war.

June 

-HR 2577 Voted not uphold the President’s Executive order authorizing travel to Cuba (which a Senate panel has previously lifted) with both Brat and Hurt voting in favor

-HR 2176 Prohibit fed from interfering with state medical marijuana laws (Brat and Hurt voting for)

-HR 1335 Improve commercial fishing stocks transferring responsibility for setting catch limits from Federal responsibility to regional councils.

Defeated amendment to provide $ for Santa Barbra CA oil spill clean up  as part of Fisheries bill by a 153-223 vote with Brat and Hurt voting against it.

-House Resolution 33 defeated the re-authorization of funding the Export-Import bank who’s funding expired 6/30 by a 242-181 vote with both Brat and Hurt voting against it.

-HR 2685 passed the Military 2016 appropriations bill, by a 278-149 vote with Brat and Hurt voting for it.  This bill has been plagued by the Republicans refusal to compromise on the overseas slush fund

-HR 2393 Passed the labeling country of origin for beef/pork and chicken by a 300 -131 vote

-HR 2146 Passed the Trade Promotion Authority bill (TPA) by a 219-201 margin with Hurt voting for and Brat against. Passage of this bill allows the president to fast track several pending international trade agreements like the TTP for expedited approval by Congress.

Defeated the Trade Adjustment Authority (TAA) by a 126 -302 margin with Hurt voting yes, and Brat no.

The following week the House had a second vote on this issue with nearly identical 218-208 vote. It should be noted that this “version” contains no TAA provisions, nor is it likely that the Senate which has also passed this bill twice will be adding a TAA provision back into it.

-HR 1295 Passed the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 by a  286-138 vote with Hurt voting for and Brat against.

Defeated amendment to HR 2577 (DOT funding bill) which eliminates funding for railroad oil tanker safety with both Brat and Hurt voting against it.

NOTE: this bill’s counterpart in the Senate was supposed to be how TAA provisions would be added back to the Trade Promotion Authority bill.   Now it doesn’t look like the Senate will address this at all and the TPA, and international agreements like TTP will soon become a reality.

-HR 2289 Voted to scale back the CFTC regulation of derivatives by a 246-171 margin with both Hurt and Brat voting for it.

Defeated amendment to HR 2577 (DOT funding bill) that eliminates funding for railroad oil tanker safety  with both Brat and Hurt voting against it.

-HR 1190 Eliminated ACA advisory panel. This panel was created to hold medical costs down by a 244-254 margin with Brat voting for it, and Hurt casting no vote.

-HR 2042 Killed EPA carbon standards by 247-180 margin with both Hurt and Brat voting for it.

Defeated an amendment that limits the Government ability to make these carbon standards binding on states by a 182-243 margin with Brat and Hurt voting against

-HR 160 Repealed medical device tax  by a 280-140 margin with both Hurt and Brat voting for it. NOTE: this will cost ACA ~ $ 24 Billion in funding over the course of the next decade.

July      

-House Resolution  341 Voted to consider removing Confederate symbols on state flags from the Capital  building by a 238-176 margin with Brat and Hurt voting for it. This bill now heads to committee to be considered.

 NOTE: This resolution has also been linked with a now dead bill to restrict Confederate flags in national cemeteries, and both this resolution and dead bill were part of a Republican attempt to force an across the board a 1% cut for EPA

-HR 5 -approved funding for  elementary and secondary education – w/ explicit Title I portability feature (218-213)

NOTE: This bill substantially alters the definition of how funding is provided and who can access it under to 1965 elementary and secondary education act, and the 2001 NCLB (No Child Left Behind) Act, and is an important precursor in enabling the states to privatize even more public schools in the future.

Defeated adequately funding IDEA (disabilities) programs in K-12 education by 185-244margin with Hurt and Brat voting against it.

Defeated a Democratic proposal to limit the  States ability to make any changes in how they use Title I funds by a  187-244 vote with Hurt and Brat voting against it.

-HR 6 expand biomedical research funding by a 344-77 vote with Hurt voting for and Brat against.  (

-HR 3038 Approved a 5 month funding patch for the Federal Highway Trust Fund 312-119 with Hurt and Brat voting for it.

Defeated a Democratic  6 year plan to fund mass transit construction with “inversion” taxes collected from corporations who hide their money overseas by a 185-244 margin with Hurt and Brat voting against it.

Defeated and $ 750 Million in funding for electronic train safety monitoring systems (prevent crashes) with both Hurt and Brat voting against it.

-HR 1559-No GMO labeling allowed by states by a 275-150 vote with Brat and Hurt voting for. In a major contrast to their earlier vote on labeling of foreign meats.

Defeated mandatory labeling of GMO’s by states by a 123 – 303 vote with Hurt and Brat voting against it.

Defeated labeling  GMO crops as “natural” by a 163- 262 vote with Hurt and Brat voting against it.

-HR 2898  Approved restricting use of water in California and western states  by a 254-176 vote with Hurt and Brat voting for it.

Defeated an amendment to modify regulations about the use of water for forest fires and drinking in a prolonged drought by a 183-239  margin with Hurt and Brat voting against it.

-HR 287- unrecorded voice vote –eliminate due process for anyone considered a terrorist by a 275-110 vote.

-HR 2020- A related bill which redefines treason with Brat and Hurt voting for it.

-HR 1734 Passed state can regulate coal ash not the EPA by a 258-166 vote with Hurt and Brat voting for it.

Defeated amendment for drinking water standards for well contamination by coal ash by a 192-231 margin with Hurt and Brat voting against it.

Breaking     7/29

-HR 2336 passed 385-34 vote with Brat and Hurt voting to extend funding for the nation’s troubled transportation infrastructure for three months through Oct. 29. This short term funding measure transfers roughly $8 billion to the cash-strapped Highway Trust Fund which reimburses states for projects.

House members plan to depart town Wednesday, leaving the Senate to pass the measure on Thursday.

The plan, as of right now, is that the two chambers will conference their respective multi-year bills in time to stave off a lapse in funding when the next deadline is reached. Meanwhile, since 2009, Congress has passed 33 short patches, leaving states constantly guessing when and how much money they will receive for major transportation projects and maintenance.

Jon Taylor

Questions for the Sheriff

Did you know that your Board of Supervisor approved a $250,000 budget overrun a couple of years ago for the Sheriff’s office and have allowed him to give himself a $10,000 unapproved, unauthorized raise after unequivocally denying his request for the same $10,000 raise last year?

Why have an approved budget if you are going to run over it by a quarter of a million dollars – is that a good management of your tax dollars?

When Louisa citizens become aware that they are going to be faced with substantial tax increases to pay for all the Louisa inmates in the Regional Jail [whose subsidy will expire at the end of this year], or as the present Sheriff Ashland Fortune says “cut services currently being provided to us,” such mismanagement, unauthorized expenditures and budget overruns will be start to be seriously addressed by all Louisa taxpayers.

How a constitutional officer, i.e., Sheriff Fortune, can simply increase his own salary without the approval or authorization of its governing body is beyond me??? I am only aware of the minimum salary that he must be paid without Board of Supervisor authorization/approval.

When questioning the County Administrator responsible for administering these funds, I was told about some obscure policy that no one has yet been able to cite, quote or produce in writing anywhere in state, county or local laws or regulations. Furthermore, few, if any, of the members of the Board of Supervisors appear to have been aware of this self-imposed/self-authorized salary increase until it was brought to their attention a couple of months ago by a single Board member.

By the way, why do we pay Sheriff Fortune overtime for attending the Regional Jail Board Meetings using our taxpayer paid vehicles and gas as part of his regular work day?

Furthermore, how was it that after the Board approved a $10,000 raise for a Sheriff department Dispatcher position last year, that same dispatcher also made more than $9,000 in overtime pay? Was it the Board intention to give that person almost a $20,000 salary increase? Really!

How do part-time employees make overtime when you have to work 40 hours a week and more than 8 hours a day in order to be eligible for any overtime pay? Wouldn’t it be more economical (not to mention legal) to add additional full-time staff instead of paying exorbitant amounts of overtime to so many part-time and full-time salaried employees?

For the record, the Sheriff department’s overtime ran over $300,000 last year and what your tax dollars are paying for this year who knows??? But even more importantly, who is questioning any of these expenditures or closely examining the Sheriff’s budget???

It seems like a run away train……. If you doubt that now is not the time for change – think again!!!

Gloria Pope

Let’s pass HB 2779 and 2781

The residents of Louisa County call on Congressman Dave Brat of the 7th Congressional District to support the two recent congressional bills HR 2779 and 2781 introduced in Congress on June 24, 2015, which would provide full benefits to disabled widows and widowers without regard to age, allow widows and widowers to increase their benefits with delayed retirement based on their own workforce contributions, repeal the seven-year restriction for widows and widowers to receive disability, and eliminate the two year waiting period for divorced spouses to receive benefits.

For nearly 80 years, social security has provided financial stability and retirement security to millions of Americans after a lifetime of hard work. However, for many Americans, social security has not improved to meet our needs, including those who count on social security after the death of a loved one or due to their own physical disability.

If the legislation above is enacted, these improvements would help provide a more secure retirement for seniors who may face difficult economic times through no fault of their own. Therefore Congressman Brat, we look forward to you as our elected representative to work to strengthen our social security, protect benefits, and ensure that seniors in Louisa County receive the retirement security we have earned.

Contact Congressman Brat at (202) 225-2815 and tell him to support the above House Bills.

Melvin Burruss