Updated: October 17, 2012 6:35AM
In the week of Sept. 17, the House will take up a bill on work requirements for welfare recipients, while the Senate will debate a jobs bill for veterans and stopgap government funding.
GOVERNMENT SPY POWERS: Voting 301 for and 118 against, the House on Sept. 12 sent the Senate a bill (HR 5949) to renew the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) through 2017. The law authorizes the National Security Agency to conduct surveillance without specific warrants of phone calls, e-mails and other contacts between foreigners that pass through telecommunications switching points in the U.S. Additionally, the bill authorizes a secret FISA court to issue blanket warrants for spying on communications between U.S. and foreign locations and continues the requirement that strictly domestic spying on Americans be authorized by the FISA court on a case-by-case basis. A yes vote was to pass the bill.
Judy Biggert: Yes
Randy Hultgren: Yes
SIX MONTHS’ STOPGAP SPENDING: Voting 329 for and 91 against, the House on Sept. 13 sent the Senate a measure (HJ Res 117) to fund the government for the first six months of fiscal 2013, through March 27, at an annual rate of $1.047 trillion, which is less than 1 percent above 2012 spending levels. The bill extends a freeze on federal workers’ pay into its third year while providing major increases for initiatives such as processing veterans’ disability claims, fighting wildfires, modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal and securing federal computer systems. A yes vote was to pass the bill.
BUDGET CONTROL ACT, REVISITED: Voting 223 for and 196 against, the House on Sept. 13 passed a Republican bill (HR 6365) directing President Obama to send Congress specific spending cuts to replace $110 billion in blind, across-the-board cuts in military, foreign-affairs and domestic spending scheduled for January under the 2011 Budget Control Act. A bipartisan deal that averted a government default, that law allowed the national debt ceiling to rise while mandating $2.7 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years. A yes vote was to pass the bill.
DEMOCRATIC ALTERNATIVE: Voting 170 for and 247 against, the House on Sept. 13 defeated a Democratic alternative to HR 6365 (above) that sought to replace $110 billion in blind, across-the-board cuts next year with a combination of tax increases on the wealthy and targeted spending cuts. The alternative would enact the so-called “Buffet Rule,” which sets a minimum tax rate of 30 percent on households with at least $1 million in income from salaries and/or investments. It also sought to extend Bush-era tax cuts for income under $250,000 while allowing them to expire on income above that threshold. A yes vote backed the Democratic plan.
CLEAN-ENERGY LOAN GUARANTEES: Voting 245 for and 161 against, the House on Sept. 14 sent the Senate a Republican bill (HR 6213) to end a Department of Energy program of loan guarantees to companies developing clean-energy technologies. The bill expressed criticism of Solyndra, a government-backed solar firm that went bankrupt, costing the Treasury $535 million. Democrats said the bill would recycle $34 billion in guarantees from clean-energy to nuclear and fossil-fuel energy companies. A yes vote was to pass the bill.
VETERANS JOB CORPS: Voting 84 for and 8 against, the Senate on Sept. 12 began debate on a bill (S 3457) to establish a Veterans Jobs Corps at a deficit-neutral cost of $1 billion over five years. The bill is designed to help veterans who served on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001. One major section promotes hiring priority for veterans in police, firefighting and other first-responder jobs on all levels of government. Another would establish jobs for veterans on public lands in areas such as conservation, historic preservation, forest restoration and cemetery maintenance. A yes vote was to advance the bill.
Richard Durbin: Yes
Mark Kirk: Not voting