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Originally published May 10, 2014 at 1:36 PM | Page modified May 10, 2014 at 5:59 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 May 9.

House

Benghazi committee

On a vote of 232 for and 186 against, the House on May 8 approved a resolution (H Res 567) to establish a select committee to investigate U.S. government actions before, during and after an attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, that resulted in the deaths of Chris Stevens, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, and three other Americans. Comprised of seven Republican and five Democratic seats, and with no fixed ending date, the panel is charged with developing new information while consolidating the work of several other congressional investigations that found mistakes but no shirking of duty or malfeasance by U.S. military and diplomatic officials in the Benghazi tragedy.

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

Business tax credits

By a vote of 274 for and 131 against, the house on May 9 passed a Republican-drafted bill (HR 4438) to expand the research-and-development tax credit for businesses and make it permanent instead of subject to periodic renewal as it is now. The bill would increase annual deficits by a total of $156 billion over its first 11 years, according to the joint committee on taxation. In part, the bill would expand the share of a company’s expenses eligible for the credit and raise the credit from 14 to 20 percent of eligible expenses. Tax credits are a dollar-for-dollar reduction in taxes owed.

Voting yes: DelBene, Herrera Beutler, Hastings, McMorris Rodgers, Kilmer, Reichert, Heck

Voting no: Larsen, McDermott, Smith

Pay-as-you-go rule

By a vote of 191 for and 209 against, the House on May 9 defeated a Democratic motion to delay enactment of HR 4438 (above) until such time as its cost to the Treasury has been offset elsewhere in the federal budget rather than added to the national debt. Because it lacks an offset, the bill is projected to generate deficits totaling $156 billion through 2024, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

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

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

Charter-school funding

By a vote of 360 for and 45 against, the House on May 9 passed a bill (HR 10) to authorize $300 million annually through fiscal 2020 for charter schools in U.S. communities. The bill would provide grants to states for developing and expanding charter schools and for leveraging private loans for capital improvements. The nation’s 5,000-plus charter schools, which educate about 5 percent of the nation’s K-12 students, receive public funding but are freed of many of the rules that bind traditional public schools. In return, they are expected to produce superior academic results and show traditional schools a model for improvement.

Voting yes: DelBene, Larsen, Herrera Beutler, Hastings, McMorris Rodgers, Kilmer, Reichert, Smith, Heck

Voting no: McDermott

Lois Lerner in contempt

By a vote of 231 for and 187 against, the House on may 7 approved a contempt-of-Congress citation (H Res 574) against Lois Lerner over her refusal to answer a house committee’s questions about improper Internal Revenue Service targeting of organizations seeking tax-exempt status under section 501(c) 4 of the tax code. Lerner, now retired, was head of an IRS division that singled out organizations for scrutiny based on their name, with many conservative groups and a lesser number of liberal organizations receiving special attention, according to the treasury department’s inspector general. While Lerner has invoked the Fifth Amendment in a House oversight and government reform probe of the scandal, she is cooperating with a parallel department of justice criminal investigation. The department now must decide whether to take the House-passed criminal citation to court.

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

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

Fifth Amendment rules

By a vote of 191 for and 224 against, the House on May 7 defeated a Democratic bid for testimony from legal experts on the question of whether former IRS official Lerner waived her constitutional right against self-incrimination in an appearance a year earlier before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. At that hearing, she read a statement professing her innocence of wrongdoing in the IRS’s improper targeting of groups seeking tax-exempt status, then invoked the Fifth Amendment and has since refused to answer committee questions. Republicans base their contempt of Congress resolution (H Res 574, above) on her conduct at the May 2013 hearing, while Democrats cite a host of legal experts and a Supreme Court precedent in arguing she did not forfeit Fifth Amendment protections by reading the statement asserting innocence.

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

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

Special counsel

By a vote of 250 for and 168 against, the House on May 7 passed a nonbinding resolution (H Res 565) calling upon U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special counsel, or independent prosecutor, to investigate IRS targeting of groups filing for tax-exempt status under Section 501(c) 4 of the tax code. This would transfer the department’s ongoing criminal probe of the IRS scandal to the special counsel, who would have independent, open-ended prosecutorial authority.

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

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

Senate

Energy efficiency

By a vote of 79 for and 20 against, the Senate on May 6 advanced a bipartisan bill (S 2262) to promote energy efficiency in residential, commercial and industrial sectors of the U.S. economy and in the federal government, the nation’s largest energy consumer. Over time, the bill is designed to create 200,000 jobs, cut most utility bills and lead to massive reductions in carbon emissions. But it imposes no mandates to achieve its goals, relying instead on measures such as model building codes, policy incentives and educational campaigns to bring about voluntary compliance. Although backed by groups as diverse as the National Association of Manufacturers and National Wildlife Federation, the bill was being delayed by Republican senators in a dispute over amendments to be allowed.

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



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