Key Votes Ahead

In the week of March 9, the Senate will debate a bill giving Congress more power to shape agreements negotiated by the administration over Iran's nuclear program. The House will be in recess all week.

WASHINGTON -- Here's how area members of Congress voted on major issues in the week ending March 6.


REGULAR BUDGET FOR HOMELAND SECURITY: Voting 257 for and 167 against, the House on March 3 passed a bill (HR 240) to fund the Department of Homeland Security at an annual rate of $39.7 billion for the remaining seven months of fiscal 2015 and avert a partial shutdown of the 231,000-employee, 16-agency department that was set to occur three days later. This bill was free of Republican objections to presidential immigration orders that had delayed its approval for several weeks.

A yes vote was to send the bill to President Obama, who signed it into law.

Voting yes: David Valadao, R-Hanford, Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield

RAIL-PASSENGER BUDGET: Voting 316 for and 101 against, the House on March 4 passed a bill (HR 749) that would authorize $7.2 billion through fiscal 2020 for rail-passenger service between U.S. cities, consisting of $5.3 billion for Amtrak operations and capital improvements, $1.2 billion for grants to state-operated passenger lines and $625 million for Amtrak debt service. The bill establishes Amtrak's profitable Northeast Corridor service between Washington and Boston as a separate financial entity so that its surpluses could no longer be used to subsidize money-losing routes in other regions. The bill gives states greater say in the operation of Amtrak routes within their borders.

In addition, the bill would allow short-cut environmental reviews of rail-passenger construction projects; launch a study into the possible restoration of passenger service between New Orleans, La., and Orlando, Fla.; permit passengers to travel with dog and cat pets and require American-made iron and steel to be used for capital improvements.

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate, where it stands a chance of passage.

Voting yes: Valadao, McCarthy

REMOVAL OF RAIL-PASSENGER SUBSIDIES: Voting 147 for and 272 against, the House on March 4 refused to strip HR 749 (above) of its subsidies of rail-passenger service, effectively killing the more than 15 money-losing Amtrak routes operating outside of the Northeast Corridor.

A yes vote was to end federal subsidies of rail-passenger service.

Voting yes: Valadao

Voting no: McCarthy

BOOST IN AMTRAK SECURITY: Voting 184 for and 232 against, the House on March 4 defeated a Democratic motion to increase the budget for Amtrak's police force in HR 749 (above) by $150 million annually and require the force to give hiring preference to veterans.

A yes vote was to adopt the motion, which, had it prevailed, would have immediately amended the bill.

Voting no: Valadao, McCarthy


NEW RULE FOR UNION ELECTIONS: Voting 53 for and 46 against, the Senate on March 4 approved a resolution (SJ Res 8) that would kill a new National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rule compressing the time between the filing of a union-organizing petition and the vote on whether to unionize. Set to take effect April 14, the rule bars litigation intended mainly to delay elections and allows forms to be filed electronically with the NLRB during the election process instead of only by regular mail. In addition, the rule requires employers to provide organizers with workers' email addresses and cell-phone numbers, going beyond the present requirement that they provide only names and home addresses.

Established in 1934, the NLRB is charged with overseeing collective bargaining and protecting the workplace rights of both labor and management.

A yes vote was to send the resolution to the House. If it passes there, it would require President Obama's signature to take effect.

Voting no: Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.

VETO OF KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE BILL: Voting 62 for and 37 against, the Senate on March 4 failed to reach a two-thirds majority needed to override President Obama's veto of a bill (S 1) to require federal approval of a Keystone XL Pipeline section from the Canadian border to Steele City, Neb. This would be the final link in a nearly 4,000-mile Keystone XL network for shipping tar-sands crude from Hardisty, Alberta, to refineries in Texas and the Midwest and ports on the Texas Gulf Coast. TransCanada Corp. is the pipeline owner.

A yes vote was to override the presidential veto.

Voting no: Feinstein, Boxer

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