Voter Education 9

I’m ba-a-a-a-ack!…

The House of Representatives was in recess this past week (5/4 – 5/8), so there are no votes to report on. However, I have votes from the two previous weeks (4/20 – 4/24 and 4/27 – 5/1) to tell you about, so let’s get started.

We start today with a cumulative record of 25 Fails, 13 Passes and 5 Abstains (as always, based on how I feel I would have voted). Of these 43 votes, I rated 36 of them “party line,” 1 “independent,” and the remaining 6 “unknown.”

The Arizona Daily Star only reported on three votes for the week of 4/20 – 4/24, and all of them were on items that weren’t widely reported on by the press, if there was any reporting at all. I’ll say from the outset that I don’t know enough about any of these to decide how I would have voted, so I’m going to ABSTAIN on them. I’ll explain why individually.

  1. “Sharing Data to Counter Cyber Attacks” [Unknown] (HR 1560) – This bill, which was passed, encourages companies that were “struck by cyber attacks to voluntarily share sensitive data on the incident with federal agencies and other companies without fear of being sued over privacy violations,” according to the Star. The Star also notes that the bill would “establish a new unit in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to facilitate the prompt sharing of data on cyber attacks.” McSally voted FOR. On the surface, this seems like a good idea, but I don’t know whether the bill included sufficient provisions about customer privacy, what could and could not be shared, and so on, for it to be something I would have voted for. Additionally, having seen the recent news about the NSA’s phone-data collection activities being declared illegal, I wonder whether the benefits of this bill would outweigh the sociological costs.
  2. “Protecting Electrical Grid, Nuclear Plants” [D] (Amendment to HR 1731) – This amendment to HR 1731 would have would have “required a cyber-security partnership between the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. energy companies to better protect ‘at-risk’ critical infrastructure – the electrical grid, nuclear power plants, oil and gas pipelines, financial services and transportation systems – from crippling cyber attacks.” McSally voted AGAINST. This confuses me because it seems like this is very similar to Number 1 – private companies sharing data with each other and the government to better respond to, and prevent, cyber attacks. Obviously I’m missing some piece of crucial information that would explain what seems to me to be contradictory votes, so I have to abstain.

[I have to note there isn’t any consistency in the overall Arizona delegation as to who voted for or against both Item 1 and this one. Our delegation comprises four Democrats and five Republicans. Three Democrats voted FOR both measures; one Democrat voted FOR one and AGAINST the other; three Republicans voted AGAINST both measures; and two Republicans split their votes.]

  1. “Consumer Financial Protection Bureau” [Unknown] (HR 1195) – This bill would establish an advisory council to advise the CFPB on small-business issues, but also cut the CFPB’s budget to fund operating costs of this and other advisory councils. McSally voted FOR. I think an advisory council is probably a good thing, but not funding it (or other councils) adequately is not good. I can’t say which would be more important to me (if either; maybe there is something else in the bill that I don’t know about that trumps both of them), so I can’t say how I would have voted on this.

The week of April 27 – May 1 was a busy one for the House, with seven votes reported on by the Star.

  1. “2016 Budget for Veterans, Military Construction” [R] (HR 2029) – This bill, according to the Star, “appropriates $68.7 billion in discretionary spending for the Department of Veterans Affairs and $7.7 billion in discretionary spending for military construction on U.S. bases at home and abroad. The bill appropriates $48.6 billion for treating a projected 6.9 million Veterans Health Administration patients. Additionally, it provides tens of billions of dollars in mandatory (entitlement) spending for veterans’ programs such as disability compensation, pensions and the post-9/11 GI Bill.” McSally voted FOR. I don’t have enough information from this summary to judge how I would have voted. Further, if I felt that any of these amounts were insufficient, I don’t know whether adding to them would make any real difference in solving the VA’s problems. And, much as I would like to pretend otherwise, I know that even the Federal Government isn’t an endless money well. I *suspect*, because of my left-of-center views, that I would have voted AGAINST this budget, but if I knew the whole story I might feel differently. I’ll have to ABSTAIN on this.
  2. “Veterans’ Use of Medical Marijuana” [D] (Amendment to HR 2029, above) – This amendment would have allowed the VA to counsel patients on using medical marijuana for ailments such as chronic pain and PTSD. (The Star’s summary doesn’t say whether it would have allowed the VA to actually prescribe or dispense weed.) McSally voted AGAINST. I would have voted FOR, so I give her a FAIL on this one.
  3. “Military Budget ‘Slush Fund’” [D] (Amendment to HR 2029, above) – This amendment would have stripped as much as $532 million from the budget bill, because it was defined as “emergency war spending” but was planned for improvements at bases in countries (like Italy and Poland) that are at peace. According to the Star, the amendment “addressed the growing practice of committees evading statutory limits on military spending by putting noncombat items in the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account. This account has been used in post-9/11 federal budgets to fund war actions outside of normal budget discipline.” McSally voted AGAINST the amendment. I would have voted FOR. McSally thus earns a FAIL for this.
  4. “Reproductive Rights in D.C.” [Unknown] (HJ Res 43) – This measure would kill a District of Columbia law making it illegal for employers to discriminate against workers on the basis of their decisions on reproductive health care. McSally voted AGAINST this measure. She earns a PASS on this, because I would also have voted against it.
  5. “10-Year Republican Budget” [R] (S Con Res 11) – Without going into details, let’s just say I would have voted against this resolution. There are lots of things included in the Star’s summary that I have problems with. McSally also voted AGAINST, earning her another PASS in my book. It passed anyway.
  6. “2016 Energy, Water Budget” [Unknown] (HR 2028) – As with other budget bills, I can’t say for sure how I would vote. There is one part of the Star’s summary that gives me pause: “…the bill appropriates $10.3 billion for energy programs – increasing spending for fossil-fuel research by $34 million while cutting energy-efficiency and renewable-energy programs by $279 million to $1.7 billion.” I’m definitely FOR more investment in renewables, so I don’t like this particular reduction. The summary goes on: “Additionally, the bill prohibits funding for certain environmental protections under the Clean Water Act…” I don’t know *what* protections these are, nor do I know whether the benefits of the protections outweigh the financial costs (they don’t always). McSally voted FOR this budget bill. I don’t know enough about all the provisions in it to say how I’d vote; McSally gets another ABSTAIN.
  7. “Defunding of Clean-Energy programs” [Unknown] (amendment to HR 2028, above) – This amendment would have eliminated the entire $1.66 billion budget for energy-efficiency and renewable-energy programs, and instead apply that amount to deficit reduction. McSally voted AGAINST this amendment. I would have, too. While it’s true that budget cuts have to be made, it’s also true that we need to continue investing in these kinds of programs. (Frankly, I think I would be a terrible budget negotiator, but that’s beside the point.) I give McSally another PASS.

For this report, Representative McSally gets two FAILS, three PASSES, and five ABSTAINS, for cumulative totals of 27 Fails, 16 Passes and 10 Abstains.

I didn’t see any of her votes that went against type with respect to which party sponsored the bill / amendment. There was one vote where I wasn’t able to determine who sponsored the measure, so I gave that vote an Unknown (versus Party Line or Independent). All the others were strictly party line votes. Her new totals here are: Party Line – 43, Independent – 3, Unknown – 7.

2 Comments on “Voter Education 9

  1. I thought that you were pro-choice; if so then wouldn’t voting against employers the illegality of employers being able to discriminate against those who choose to go through abortions be against this? So now it will be legal for them to discriminate? That absolutely is something that I would have voted for; I don’t think that employers should be allowed to discriminate against those who choose to have an abortion. Maybe I’m reading this wrong?

    • Sometimes stuff that is voted on is like a double negative. In this case, the measure, if passed, would have basically said, “Hey, DC, you know that law you have now that says employers can’t discriminate against workers because of their decisions on reproductive health care? We just deleted it from your books. It is no longer illegal for them to discriminate.” I kind of condensed what the paper said about it, and I can see where my version is confusing. I had to read the paper’s version a couple of times myself to make sure I got it right. I would have voted against a measure that overturns an existing law that makes this kind of discrimination illegal. (I hope that clears it up, at least a little.)

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