My Path to Informed Voting #3

Let’s see how Representative Martha McSally did for the week ending January 23, shall we? There were four votes reported in the Arizona Daily Star on Jan 25. I’ve added two bits of information this time, and will continue to use them in the future. The first is [R] for Republican-sponsored legislation, while [D] is for Democrat-sponsored bills, [I] would be for Independent, and [Unknown] if it’s not listed. The other is a new “verdict” – ABSTAIN – which I’ll use when I don’t think I have enough information to determine how I would have voted.

  1. “Gas Pipeline Permits” (HR 161) [R] – This bill set deadlines for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and other agencies to act on proposals for building natural-gas pipelines (there are no deadlines in current law). FERC would have a year to approve or deny a proposal; other agencies, like the Army Corps of Engineers, would have 90 days after FERC issues its final environmental evaluation of an application to complete their own environmental and other reviews. McSally voted FOR. This is a mixed bag for me. I think regulatory agencies should complete their duties in a reasonable time frame, so on the face of it, this seems like a good idea – it would keep agencies from sitting on applications indefinitely. And it seems to me that a year should be sufficient for an agency like FERC. However, the 90-day limit for everyone else seems too short, and I think the resulting evaluations would be rushed and incomplete. If the sponsor of the legislation did his/her homework appropriately, these time frames might be all right. I simply don’t have enough information from the paper’s summary to be able to rate her vote. My verdict: ABSTAIN.
  2. “Pipeline Explosions” (Amendment to HR 161, above) [D] – This amendment would have delayed implementation of HR 161 until FERC certified that “taxpayers are not responsible for cleanup costs resulting from pipeline explosions and that pipeline owners bear full responsibility for loss of life and other damages resulting from explosions.” McSally voted AGAINST. It seems to me that if private companies are going to reap the benefits of gas pipelines, they should also bear the costs when something goes wrong. My verdict: FAIL.
  3. “Abortion Coverage in Health Law” (HR 7) [R] – This bill covered several topics: (1) ban taxpayer-subsidized insurance policies that cover abortion from the ACA marketplaces; (2) prohibit any use of federal funds or tax credits to subsidize premiums for such policies; (3) add the “Hyde Amendment” (which prohibits expenditure of federal funds for abortions except in cases of rape or incest, or to save the life of the mother) to permanent law [currently the “Hyde Amendment” is tacked on to most, if not all, annual appropriations bills]. McSally voted FOR. I have long believed that women should be in control of their own bodies, and that the government should stay out of that arena. The decision to abort should be strictly the woman’s. My verdict: FAIL.
  4. “Medical Privacy” (Amendment to HR 7, above) [D] – According to the Star, this motion “would ensure that HR 7 did not compromise the medical privacy of women, including rape and incest victims, with respect to their choice or use of health-insurance policies. Supporters of the motion said privacy issues could arise as insurance companies seek to document a woman’s claim of eligibility for taxpayer-funded abortion coverage as a result of being raped. The Hyde Amendment bars federal funding of abortions except in cases of rape or incest or if the procedure is necessary to save the mother’s life.” McSally voted AGAINST. My verdict: FAIL. Our health records must remain private. Voting against a measure that would help keep them so is, simply, wrong.

There were only two votes reported in the Star for the week ending January 30, so I’ll include them in tonight’s blog, too.

  1. “Expedited Exports of Natural Gas” (HR 351) [Unknown] – This bill requires the Department of Energy (DOE) to act promptly on applications by US companies to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to countries with which we don’t have free-trade agreements. The time limit for action would be 30 days after environmental reviews have been completed. McSally voted FOR. The Star noted that “[c]ritics said this would weaken DOE reviews of whether applications are in the public interest in terms of assuring adequate, affordable domestic supplies of natural gas.” I think a time limit for action is probably a good thing, but I don’t know whether 30 days is the right time limit. On the other hand, this seems like it shouldn’t be a difficult thing to get done in 30 days. My verdict: PASS.
  2. “Export Ban to State Sponsors of Terrorism” (amendment to HR 351, above) [D] – This motion would have amended HR 351 to “deny the export of US natural gas … to state sponsors of terrorism or to countries or firms that use cyber attacks to steal US intellectual property and military technology. The motion also required the gas to be exported in ships and shipping containers that are built in the US and fly under [sic] the American flag.” McSally voted AGAINST. I can possibly see not requiring the gas to be shipped under the US flag, based on whether there are enough American LNG carriers. [If I remember correctly, most shippers fly under “flags of convenience,” of which the US flag is not one. There simply might not be sufficient US capacity to satisfy this requirement.] But why on earth would we want to sell LNG to countries that sponsor terrorism or that actively steal our secrets? My verdict: FAIL.

So we started this post with a cumulative count of 9 fails and 4 passes. Tonight we have 4 fails, 1 pass and 1 abstain, for a cumulative record of 13 fails, 5 passes and 1 abstain.

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