How our state’s members of Congress voted last week

Here at The Columbian, we publish information every Sunday inside the C Section about how members of Congress from our state have voted. I’ve recently learned that this information is not available on The Columbian’s website.

I believe the plan is to eventually get this information up on our politics page, but until then, I’ll re-post it in my blog:

Here’s how members of Congress voted on major issues in the week ending March 9.


CAPITAL FORMATION, FINANCIAL DEREGULATION: Voting 390 for and 23 against, the House on March 8 sent the Senate a bill (HR 3606) to ease financial regulations in order to help emerging small and mid-sized businesses rapidly enter capital markets, attract investors and create jobs. The bill would enable up-and-coming firms with annual revenues of less than $1 billion to float initial public offerings (IPOs) without first having to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission. For these companies, the bill would waive for up to five years some of the investor-protection and corporate-governance rules imposed by the Sarbanes-Oxley financial-regulation law in 2002 and the Dodd-Frank law in 2010. The former was Congress’s answer to financial mishaps such as Enron and the dot-com meltdown, and the latter was its response to the subprime mortgage and Wall Street collapses that were major causes of the Great Recession.
This bill lowers standards for providing audited financial statements to potential investors; eases reporting requirements on executive compensation; allows companies to “crowd fund” by tapping into large pools of small investors; permits firms to advertise private offerings over the Internet; increases the amount of capital a company can raise and the number of shareholders it can have without registering with the SEC; and raises from 500 to 2,000 the maximum number of shareholders in community banks.

Scott Garrett, R-N.J., said: “With venture-capital fundraising basically stagnant and the IPO market largely closed off, innovative start-up companies … have been forced literally to delay research on promising medical and scientific and technological breakthroughs, and that has hurt our economy and our global competitiveness, because emerging companies need capital.”

John Dingell, D-Mich., said: “Regulation subsequent to 1929 created decades of stability and prosperity. The gradual erosion of the laws and regulations put in place (after) the Great Depression ultimately caused the crash in 2008, which cost this country millions of jobs and wiped out trillions of dollars in our constituents’ collective net worth. Now is not the time to deregulate.”

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Jay Inslee, D-1, Rick Larsen, D-2, Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-3, Doc Hastings, R-4, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-5, Norman Dicks, D-6, Dave Reichert, R-8, Adam Smith, D-9

Voting no: Jim McDermott, D-7

Not voting: None

SHAREHOLDERS’ ‘SAY ON PAY’ RULE: Voting 169 for and 244 against, the House on March 7 refused to retain “say on pay” and golden parachute rules for companies receiving regulatory relief under HR 3606 (above). Those rules, included in the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial regulation law, guarantee shareholders a chance to cast nonbinding votes on levels of executive compensation and payments to departing executives.

Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., said: “These are the companies we know the least about. They have the shortest track records. These shareholders and investors are taking a leap of faith, and this (amendment) would allow them to have a vote on the CEO salaries and also on the golden parachutes. …”

Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, called the amendment “a huge step backwards,” adding that under the bill, “emerging growth companies still have to disclose their executive compensation arrangements to shareholders in their SEC filings. …”

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Voting yes: Inslee, Larsen, Dicks, McDermott

Voting no: Herrera Beutler, Hastings, McMorris Rodgers, Reichert, Smith

Not voting: None

HYDROPOWER, ENVIRONMENTAL RULES: Voting 265 for and 154 against, the House on March 7 sent the Senate a bill (HR 2842) easing environmental rules so as to speed the placement of generators in man-made Bureau of Reclamation water conduits such as canals, aqueducts and pipelines. The generators would produce large amounts of electricity for residential, industrial and agricultural consumption. The bill would exempt these projects from the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires federal agencies to assess the environmental impact of their construction projects.

The Bureau of Reclamation, which operates in 17 western states, has built more than 600 dams and reservoirs and nearly 60 power plants and is the nation’s largest water wholesaler. “We bring water to more than 31 million people and provide one out of five Western farmers … with irrigation water for ten-million acres of farmland,” the agency says. This bill affects only the bureau’s conduits for delivering water to customers, not reservoir or river projects.

Tom McClintock, R-Calif., said existing pipelines equipped with small generators “could generate electricity that would take several major multibillion-dollar hydroelectric dams across the West to produce,” but that is not happening “for one simple and utterly absurd reason: government regulations make it economically impossible to do so.”

Edward Markey, D-Mass., said the bill exemplifies “what happens when (the GOP’s) entire economic platform is deregulation and gutting safety and environmental protections. You start waiving environmental review even when the (hydropower) industry you’re trying to help isn’t asking for it.”

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Herrera Beutler, Hastings, McMorris Rodgers, Reichert

Voting no: Inslee, Larsen, Dicks, McDermott, Smith

Not voting: None


KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE: Voting 56 for and 42 against, the Senate on March 8 failed to reach 60 votes for stipulating that Congress, under the commerce clause of the Constitution, has authority to approve the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Texas. The amendment to a pending transportation bill (S 1813) would shift authority that now resides with the State Department and White House because of the pipeline’s international reach. President Obama in January denied an application by TransCanada Corp. to build the pipeline, saying he could not meet a tight deadline imposed by Congress, but invited the company to submit a new application.

Sponsor John Hoeven, R-N.D., said: “This is a clear choice. My amendment provides that the Keystone Pipeline project will move forward, authorized by Congress.”

Ron Wyden, D-Ore., opposed the amendment because it allows the Keystone oil to be exported from Texas refineries. “Under this amendment, the oil is not going to be going to the United States,” he said.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Voting yes: None

Voting no: Maria Cantwell, D, Patty Murray, D

Not voting: None

KEYSTONE OIL EXPORT BAN: Voting 33 for and 65 against, the Senate on March 8 rejected an amendment to S 1813 (above) requiring oil refined from crude shipped in the Keystone XL pipeline to be kept in the United States. The amendment also required that American workers, iron and steel be used to build the pipeline. Defeat of the amendment left intact plans by TransCanada Corp., the pipeline owner, to export Keystone oil from Texas refineries in Houston and Port Arthur, Texas.

Sponsor Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said his amendment “ensures that the Keystone pipeline is built by American workers using American steel” and “that our priority is reasonably priced energy for American families and American businesses, rather than their Chinese competitors.”

John Hoeven, R-N.D., said: “This is a vote to block the project,” one that would require TransCanada to start the project from scratch. “What does that mean — another 3½ years before they can go forward?”

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Voting yes: Cantwell, Murray

Voting no: None

Not voting: None

CLEAN-AIR RULE DELAY: Voting 52 for and 46 against, the Senate on March 8 failed to reach 60 votes for requiring the Environmental Protection Agency to delay and rewrite its proposed “Boiler MACT” rule. When this rule becomes law under the Clean Air Act, it will curb atmospheric discharges of toxic chemicals such as mercury and arsenic from industrial, commercial and institutional boilers and process heaters. The amendment was offered to S 1813 (above).

Sponsor Susan Collins, R-Maine, said “I know we are going to hear on the floor that somehow I am trying to harm children or delay health benefits, and that is not true. … We can achieve health benefits we desire without putting thousands of people out of work and stifling the economic recovery.”

Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said the amendment “would forever change the current standards allowed for mercury, arsenic, lead, chromium, benzene, toxic soot and other dangerous pollutants. So it not only delays a rule that is critical … but it changes the standards for these toxins forever.”

A yes vote was to delay the rule.

Voting yes: None

Voting no: Cantwell, Murray

Not voting: None

— Thomas Voting Reports, Inc.

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