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Roll Calls: Senate GOP Resists Democratic Amendments


ROLL CALL:
Senate Rejects Byrd’s Emotional Call For Extra Spending

On January 17, by a vote of 46 to 52, the Senate rejected an amendment to the 2003 Omnibus Appropriations bill (H. J. Res. 2) that would have nullified the 2.9% across-the-board spending cut Republicans put in the bill to offset some higher spending. Sen. Robert Byrd (D.-W. VA.) proposed the amendment to strike the across-the-board cut designed to pay for $1.5 billion to fund election overhaul programs, $3.1 billion in drought assistance, $5 billion in educational block grants to states, and $1.5 billion in Medicare and Medicaid.

“The mandatory side of the federal budget is going through the roof unchecked, going through the ozone layer, while the domestic programs that are being funded through the annual appropriations process are being squeezed-like I squeezed my grapefruit this morning,” Byrd said.

Rather than calling for spending cuts to pay for new programs, Byrd once again invoked the Almighty as he declared a need for more money all around. “What was the first question that was ever asked since the human race began?” Byrd asked. “In reading the Book of Genesis, the first chapter, the first question ever asked was when God walked through the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day, before the shades of night had fallen, and he was looking for Adam and Eve. They had eaten of the forbidden fruit”

Using his typical rhetorical excess, Byrd went on deliver what amounted to a homily. “God went through the garden and he asked: ‘Adam, where art thou?” Adam was hiding. He and Eve had gotten over behind some bushes. They were hiding. Can you hide from God? They found they could not,” Byrd went on. “But they were hiding over behind some bushes. God went through the garden and said: ‘Adam, where art thou?’ I say to my friends, you are going to be asked by the people: Where were you? Where were you? Where were you when these cuts took place? Where were you?”

The programs Byrd mentioned as supposedly suffering the most from the Senate’s bite into temptation included the FBI and the Veterans Administration. But Sen. Ted Stevens (R.-Alaska) pointed out the error of Byrd’s argument, explaining that the so-called “cuts” were merely a slowing in the increasing rate of spending on some programs. “We are not cutting any veterans,” he said. “We are not cutting out anyone who is receiving care now. We are cutting out the increase that would have been available under the bills that were pending before the Congress last year.”

Stevens also questioned Byrd’s statistics on FBI jobs lost because of the cuts. “Where does the senator get those figures?” Stevens asked. “The FBI received $3.49 billion in fiscal year 2002 and this bill has $3.92 billion. Beyond that we provided $158 million in the FBI joint task force. Not one FBI agent will be fired. We will not increase, but not one will be fired. Where does the senator get those figures?”

Sen. Don Nickles (R. -Okla.) was equally hard on Byrd’s argumentation. “When people are saying we are having cuts and it is going to cost thousands of jobs, it reminds me of somebody saying we are going to give you $1,000. Then they say we changed our mind, we are giving you $900-you just lost $100,” he said. He backed his statement with numbers proving the only money taken out of any group’s budget would be from a surplus that group received.

“I have heard my colleague say we are cutting the FBI. The FBI went from $3.4 billion to $4.1 if you add the two accounts together. I heard my colleague say they are cutting the NIH. That went from $27.2 billion and received a $3.8-billion increase. I just heard my colleague say we are cutting the VA; we are hurting veterans and veterans health care. Veterans care went from $23.9 and received a $2.6-billion increase, over a 10% increase.”

A “yes” vote was a vote in favor of the Byrd amendment to strike a 2.9% across-the-board spending cut in the fiscal 2003 omnibus appropriations bill in order to pay for increases in several programs. A “no” vote was a vote in favor to keep the cuts.

FOR THE AMENDMENT (46)

REPUBLICANS FOR (0)

DEMOCRATS FOR (45): Akaka, Baucus, Bayh, Biden, Bingaman, Boxer, Breaux, Byrd, Cantwell, Carper, Clinton, Conrad, Corzine, Daschle, Dayton, Dodd, Dorgan, Durbin, Edwards, Feingold, Feinstein, Graham (Fla.), Harkin, Hollings, Inouye, Johnson, Kennedy, Kohl, Landrieu, Lautenberg, Leahy, Levin, Lieberman, Lincoln, Mikulski, Murray, Nelson (Fla.), Pryor, Reed (R.I.), Reid (Nev.), Rockefeller, Sarbanes, Schumer, Stabenow, and Wyden.

INDEPENDENTS FOR (1): Jeffords.

AGAINST THE AMENDMENT (52)

REPUBLICANS AGAINST (50): Alexander, Allard, Allen, Bennett, Bond, Brownback, Bunning, Burns, Campbell, Chafee, Chambliss, Cochran, Coleman, Collins, Cornyn, Craig, Crapo, DeWine, Dole, Domenici, Ensign, Enzi, Fitzgerald, Frist, Graham (S.C.), Grassley, Gregg, Hatch, Hutchison, Inhofe, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, McCain, McConnell, Murkowski, Nickles, Roberts, Santorum, Sessions, Shelby, Smith, Snowe, Specter, Stevens, Sununu, Talent, Thomas, Voinovich and Warner.

DEMOCRATS AGAINST (2): Miller and Nelson (Neb.).

NOT VOTING (2): Hagel and Kerry.

ROLL CALL:
Senate Refuses to End Goals for Outsourcing Of Federal Jobs

On January 23, by a vote of 47 to 50, the Senate rejected an amendment to the 2003 Omnibus Appropriations bill (H. J. Res 2) that would have prohibited federal agencies from setting and meeting goals on outsourcing federal jobs to the private sector.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D.-Md.) spoke out angrily against the Bush Administration’s initiative to outsource hundreds of thousands of federal jobs. “I believe if we are going to recruit and retain the people we need, we need to make sure we do not embark upon this arbitrary, capricious, hostile, and predatory behavior,” she said. “If you are for targets, vote for this. If you are for arbitrary and capricious decision making, go ahead and do it. Who is going to hire these people? Are we going to create new corporations?”

The unspoken reason behind the amendment was the debt Democratic committees, PACs and state parties owe to public sector unions-for contributions and votes. Democrats fear that the outsourcing of federal jobs could damage one of their most reliable donor bases.

Responding to Mikulski, Sen. Craig Thomas (R.-Wyo.) questioned why anyone would opposed privatizing jobs not considered specifically governmental. Placing these jobs outside of the federal government, he argued, would create more competition and more efficiency.

“I cannot imagine what is wrong with the idea of having competition, what is wrong with the idea of being more efficient,” he said. “They are still jobs. We are not taking away jobs. They may be moving to the private sector where they can compete and do that particular function of government more efficiently.”

He also argued the amendment was just a replay of similar amendments defeated by the Senate. “This is not the first time we have dealt with this issue, and each time it has been defeated because most of us think competition is a good idea,” he said. “Most of us think efficiency is a good idea. Most of us think we ought to keep government as small as we can and get the job done that way.” Sen. Edward Kennedy (D.-Mass.) expressed his concern for the impact on employee benefits.

“The administration’s proposal will reduce the standard of living for large numbers of federal workers, since contractors have incentives to reduce costs by offering inferior compensation,” he said. “According to the Economic Policy Institute, one in ten contractor employees earns less than a living wage. When work is privatized, displaced federal workers are likely to lose their health benefits and their security for the future.”

Mikulski, who represents tens of thousands of federal workers living in Maryland, also made a patronizing use of the “race card,” alleging that the outsourcing of federal jobs is somehow racist. “They are going to go for the largest numbers in the quickest way,” she said. “It is going to be clerical. It is going to be support. It is going to be the mail. It is going to have a tremendous impact on people of color who have worked their way into federal civil service.”

A “yes” vote was a vote to prohibit federal agencies from setting goals for how many jobs they want to outsource to the private sector. A “no” vote was a vote against the amendment.

FOR THE AMENDMENT (47)

REPUBLICANS FOR (2): Snowe and Specter.

DEMOCRATS FOR (44): Akaka, Baucus, Bayh, Biden, Bingaman, Boxer, Breaux, Byrd, Cantwell, Carper, Clinton, Conrad, Corzine, Daschle, Dayton, Dodd, Dorgan, Durbin, Edwards, Feingold, Feinstein, Graham (Fla.), Hollings, Johnson, Kennedy, Kohl, Landrieu, Lautenberg, Leahy, Levin, Lieberman, Lincoln, Mikulski, Murray, Nelson (Fla.), Nelson (Neb.), Pryor, Reed (R.I.), Reid (Nev.), Rockefeller, Sarbanes, Schumer, Stabenow and Wyden.

INDEPENDENTS FOR (1): Jeffords.

AGAINST THE AMENDMENT (50)

REPUBLICANS AGAINST (49): Alexander, Allard, Allen, Bennett, Bond, Brownback, Bunning, Burns, Campbell, Chafee, Chambliss, Cochran, Coleman, Collins, Cornyn, Craig, Crapo, DeWine, Dole, Domenici, Ensign, Enzi, Fitzgerald, Frist, Graham (S.C.), Grassley, Gregg, Hagel, Hatch, Hutchison, Inhofe, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, McCain, McConnell, Murkowski, Nickles, Roberts, Santorum, Sessions, Shelby, Smith, Stevens, Sununu, Talent, Thomas, Voinovich and Warner.

DEMOCRATS AGAINST (1): Miller.

NOT VOTING (3): Harkin, Inouye and Kerry.

ROLL CALL:
Senate Defeats $100 Million Extra For Superfund

On January 23, by a vote of 53-45, the Senate voted to table (kill) an amendment to the fiscal 2003 omnibus (H.J. Res. 2) proposed by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D.-N.J.) that would have provided $100 million from the Superfund trust fund for cleanup of brownfield sites.

Lautenberg argued this additional money would not only enable the clean up of additional contaminated sites, but all the security of professional careers in this area.

“There is now about $120 million in unobligated funds left in the Superfund trust fund,” he said. “My amendment takes $100 million of that and adds it to the $1.27 billion [already in the bill] so that we can increase the number of contaminated sites we will be cleaning up.” Lautenberg then made the frank admission that his amendment was basically a pork barrel giveaway to cleanup contractors in New Jersey. His amendment, he said, would serve “to give some encouragement to a group of highly trained professionals so they can look to a continuation of a career that has been devoted to getting these sites cleaned up.”

Sen. James Inhofe (R.-Okla.) criticized the amendment for adding additional money to an ineffective program. He called for the improvement of the Superfund system before any financial adjustments are made.

“We have spent about $100 billion on it over the last 15 years, and it has not resolved the problem,” he said. “We want to reform the system. We need to reform the system. . . . [L]et’s go ahead, give our committee a chance, give Sen. [Lincoln] Chafee [R.-R.I.], whose subcommittee has the jurisdiction, a chance to go in here and do a better job rather than pouring money on a system that is not working today.”

The reform he mentioned includes state cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency in a cheaper, more effective cleanup of the contaminated areas. Sen. Larry Craig (R.-Idaho) gave the example of a Superfund site in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, that three years ago was expected to cost $1 billion to clean up. Under a new cooperative state plan the new cost was less than $300 million over a 12-15 year period.

Now, $300 million versus $1 billion is a heck of a lot of money,” Sen. Craig said. “I agree with the senator from Oklahoma, there is great opportunity for reform. You just don’t throw money at these problems. You resolve them in new, creative ways, and still meet standards for clean water and clean air.”

A “yes” vote was a vote to table (kill) the Lautenberg amendment to provide an additional $100 million in unobligated Superfund trust money for cleanup of polluted sites and was, in effect, a vote against the amendment. A “no” vote was a vote to continue considering Lautenberg’s amendment and was, in effect, vote was a vote for the amendment.

FOR THE MOTION TO TABLE (53)

REPUBLICANS FOR (50): Alexander, Allard, Allen, Bennett, Bond, Brownback, Bunning, Burns, Campbell, Chafee, Chambliss, Cochran, Coleman, Cornyn, Craig, Crapo, DeWine, Dole, Domenici, Ensign, Enzi, Fitzgerald, Frist, Graham (S.C.), Grassley, Gregg, Hagel, Hatch, Hutchison, Inhofe, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, McCain, McConnell, Murkowski, Nickles, Roberts, Santorum, Sessions, Shelby, Smith, Snowe, Specter, Stevens, Sununu, Talent, Thomas, Voinovich and Warner.

DEMOCRATS FOR (3): Breaux, Miller and Nelson (Neb.)

AGAINST THE MOTION TO TABLE (45)

REPUBLICANS AGAINST (1): Collins.

DEMOCRATS AGAINST (43): Akaka, Baucus, Bayh, Biden, Bingaman, Boxer, Byrd, Cantwell, Carper, Clinton, Conrad, Corzine, Daschle, Dayton, Dodd, Dorgan, Durbin, Edwards, Feingold, Feinstein, Graham (Fla.), Hollings, Johnson, Kennedy, Kerry, Kohl, Landrieu, Lautenberg, Leahy, Levin, Lieberman, Lincoln, Mikulski, Murray, Nelson (Fla.), Pryor, Reed (R.I.), Reid (Nev.), Rockefeller, Sarbanes, Schumer, Stabenow, and Wyden.

INDEPENDENTS AGAINST (1): Jeffords.

NOT VOTING (2): Harkin and Inouye.