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Originally published Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 3:54 PM

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Voterama in Congress

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WASHINGTON — Here’s how Washington state’s members of Congress voted on major issues in the week ending Feb. 28.

House

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

By a vote of 232 for and 182 against, the House on Feb. 27 passed a Republican bill (HR 3193) to reduce the authority of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The bill enables the Financial Stability Oversight Council in the Treasury Department to veto the bureau’s proposed regulations by simple majority vote rather than the two-thirds majority now required. The bill also would replace the bureau’s director with a five-person governing body and subject its budget to the congressional appropriations process.

Established by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial-regulation law, the bureau has authority to write and enforce pro-consumer rules for retail banks, home-mortgage lenders, student and payday lenders, credit cards and other firms that sell financial services to households and individuals. The bureau is barred from regulating auto dealerships or banks with less than $10 billion in assets. It is based in the Federal Reserve while operating independently with a budget derived from fees and a chairman nominated by the president and subject to Senate confirmation.

Voting yes: Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas; Doc Hastings, R-Pasco; Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane; Dave Reichert, R-Auburn

Voting no: Suzan DelBene, D-Medina; Rick Larsen, D-Lake Stevens; Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor; Jim McDermott, D-Seattle; Adam Smith, D-Bellevue; Denny Heck, D-Olympia

Payday lenders to the military

Voting 194-223, the House on Feb. 27 defeated a Democratic motion to prevent HR 3193 (above) from impeding Consumer Financial Protection Bureau oversight of payday lenders located on or near military bases, its efforts to help consumers deal with compromised credit cards or its policing of fraud in fees charged for student loans or ATM withdrawals.

Voting yes: DelBene, Larsen, Kilmer, McDermott, Smith, Heck

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

New hurdles for regulators

The House on Feb. 27 passed, 236-179, a GOP bill (HR 2804) to impose additional paperwork and public-reporting obligations on federal agencies as they go about drafting and implementing rules to carry out laws passed by Congress. Agencies would be required to file monthly reports on the content, status and legal basis of rules they are developing. The Office of Management and Budget unit that receives these filings would have to post them on the Internet and then publish detailed annual reports on all aspects of federal rule making, including projected costs on the economy. The executive branch implements 3,000 to 4,000 regulations each year, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

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

Voting no: DelBene, Larsen, Kilmer, McDermott, Smith, Heck

Veterans, seniors, women

Voting 187-229, the House on Feb. 27 defeated a Democratic bid to prevent HR 2804 (above) from interfering with regulations that expedite veterans’ benefits; protect the health and safety of seniors, children and consumers; ensure pay equity for women; provide refunds and rebates to taxpayers; aid small businesses; prevent discrimination; safeguard drinking water and protect food supplies from food-borne diseases.

Voting yes: DelBene, Larsen, Kilmer, McDermott, Smith, Heck

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

Rules for tax-exempt organizations

By a vote of 243 to 176, the House on Feb. 26 passed a GOP bill (HR 3865) to delay new rules for the treatment of nonprofit organizations under section 501(c) 4 of the Internal Revenue Code. Existing law allows these groups to receive tax-exempt status and keep their donors secret if they are primarily or exclusively engaged in promoting social welfare. The proposed new rules would clarify the distinction between overt political advocacy and activities that promote social welfare. Republicans urged delay until they finish their probe of IRS targeting of conservative groups’ 501(c) 4 applications. Democrats said in debate the IRS has acknowledged also giving special scrutiny to progressive groups’ applications for tax-exempt status.

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

Voting no: DelBene, Kilmer, McDermott, Smith, Heck

Secret political funding

The House on Feb. 26 voted 191-230 to defeat a Democratic bid to ensure that no provision of HR 3865 (above) would prohibit the Department of the Treasury from proposing rules that require political donors to organizations to be publicly identified.

Voting yes: DelBene, Larsen, Kilmer, McDermott, Smith, Heck

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

Senate

Expanded veterans’ benefits

Voting 56-41, the Senate on Feb. 27 failed to reach 60 votes needed to overcome Republican blockage of a bill (S 1982) that would expand veterans’ benefits at a cost of $21 billion over several years in areas such as physical and mental health care, college-tuition assistance, transition to civilian employment and military-retirement pay. To pay for itself, the bill would cut other veterans’ programs and tap into savings resulting from U.S. troop withdrawals in Iraq and Afghanistan. But GOP critics said the entire “pay for” should come from actual budget cuts. Republicans also objected to Democrats not allowing a vote on a bipartisan amendment that would impose new economic sanctions on Iran during ongoing U.S. negotiations with Tehran over curbing the Iranian nuclear program.

Voting yes: Maria Cantwell, D; Patty Murray, D



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