MegaVote Summary May 20, 2013

In this MegaVote for New York’s 25th Congressional District:

Recent Congressional Votes

  • Senate: Internet Sales Tax – Final Passage
  • Senate: Water Infrastructure Projects – Amendment Vote
  • House: Private Sector Comp Time – Final Passage
  • House: Debt Payment Prioritization – Final Passage

Upcoming Congressional Bills

  • Senate: Water Resources Development Act of 2013
  • Senate: Nominations
  • House: To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010
  • House: SEC Regulatory Accountability Act

Recent Senate Votes Internet Sales Tax – Final Passage – Vote Passed (69-27, 4 Not Voting)

Last week the Senate completed action on bipartisan but controversial Internet sales tax legislation. More than two-thirds of senators (all but five Democrats and about half of Republicans) agreed that states should be allowed to require online firms to collect the same sales taxes as their domiciled brick-and-mortar businesses. States would be required to provide free tax-calculation software to affected businesses. Firms with gross annual receipts of $1 million or less would be exempted from the new requirements. Prior to final passage the Senate adopted an amendment from Wyoming Republican Mike Enzi, one of the measure’s co-sponsors, which would extend the implementation timeline from three to six months and specify that requirements for filing returns and making tax payments must be the same for online and offline firms. President Obama supports S. 743, but House Speaker John Boehner and Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., have both expressed skepticism toward the legislation.

Sen. Charles Schumer voted YES
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand voted YES

Water Infrastructure Projects – Amendment Vote – Vote Rejected (56-43, 1 Not Voting)

After passing the Internet sales tax bill, the Senate moved on to the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), a catch-all piece of legislation usually passed every five years dealing with everything from dams and levees to port dredging. Traditionally one of the biggest magnets for pork barrel projects, this version of WRDA is the first since both chambers of Congress adopted earmark moratoria. Similar to last year’s highway bill, WRDA makes various changes to existing law in order to speed up project approval, including the imposition of financial penalties on tardy agencies. The bill also attempts to capture a larger share of the revenue that accrues to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund each year for actual harbor maintenance – a seemingly novel concept, yet one that Senate appropriators initially objected to, as they have grown accustomed to diverting much of the trust fund’s receipts to unrelated accounts. Several amendments were voted on last week, including this one from Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn that would enable individuals to bring guns on to Army Corps of Engineers-administered water projects. The amendment failed due to a 60-vote requirement. At week’s end the legislation had stalled over Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu’s insistence on a vote for her amendment that would prevent a rise in flood insurance premiums. Though a cloture vote is currently scheduled for May 14, it appears that there is some agreement on a vote for the Landrieu amendment. The White House leveled several criticisms of the bill in its policy statement , though a manager’s amendment from Barbara Boxer and David Vitter, the chair and ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, may have addressed some of these issues.

Sen. Charles Schumer voted NO
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand voted NO

Recent House Votes Private Sector Comp Time – Final Passage – Vote Passed (223-204, 5 Not Voting)

The House passed a measure last week to allow private sector employers to provide comp time to their workers in lieu of overtime pay. Under current law, such an arrangement exists for most workers in the public sector and a few in the private sector. Republicans classified the measure as providing flexibility to both employers and employees, while Democrats and their allies in the labor movement suspect an attempt to weaken workers’ rights. In particular, they claim that there is no guarantee an individual will receive time off when he desires it and that employers could put pressure on workers to accept comp time instead of overtime. The White House seems to agree with these critiques, as it has threatened to veto the bill.

Rep. Louise Slaughter voted NO


Debt Payment Prioritization – Final Passage – Vote Passed (221-207, 4 Not Voting)

In its final action of the week, the House took another foray into debt limit politics. The “Full Faith and Credit Act” would mandate that in the event of the government hitting the debt limit, the Treasury Secretary would prioritize payment to holders of government debt and to Social Security recipients above all other obligations. These payments would in fact be exempt from the debt limit, such that the government could theoretically continue functioning, if only in order to issue Social Security checks and service the debt. No Democrats backed the measure, and the administration has threatened a veto.

Rep. Louise Slaughter voted NO

Upcoming Votes Water Resources Development Act of 2013 – S.601

The Senate will continue debating the water infrastructure bill this week. If no agreement on amendments is reached beforehand, a cloture vote on the measure will take place May 14.


The Senate may vote on the nominations of Ernest Moniz for Energy secretary and Marilyn Tavenner to oversee the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which manages the two health care programs.

To repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 – H.R.45

The House is scheduled to vote on a bill to repeal “Obamacare.” Curiously the bill as currently written appears not to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a body created by the law to make binding recommendations on Medicare cuts, which congressional Republicans have previously targeted individually for repeal.

SEC Regulatory Accountability Act – H.R.1062

The House is also scheduled to take up a measure that would amend the charter of the SEC to force the agency to conduct cost-benefit analyses before issuing new regulations.

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