KEY VOTES AHEAD:  Congress is in recess this week. It returns Feb. 24 to face a deadline three days later for either funding the Department of Homeland of Security or allowing parts of it to shut down.

WASHINGTON -- Here's how area members of Congress voted on major issues in the week ending Feb. 13.

HOUSE

KEYSTONE PIPELINE, CLIMATE CHANGE: Voting 270 for and 152 against, the House on Feb. 11 sent the White House a bill (S 1) giving final federal approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline while declaring "climate change is real and not a hoax." The bill approves a pipeline leg reaching more than 900 miles from the Canadian border to Steele City, Neb. This would be the final link in a nearly 4,000-mile Keystone network for shipping tar-sands crude from Hardisty, Alberta, to refineries in Texas and the Midwest and ports on the Texas Gulf Coast. Usurping authority over the international project from the Department of State and White House, the bill "deems" that environmental and safety hurdles have been cleared and that U.S. permits for construction, operation and maintenance must be issued. TransCanada Corp. is the pipeline owner.

A yes vote was to send the bill to President Obama, who said he will veto it.

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

LIABILITY FOR OIL SPILLS: By a vote of 181 for and 241 against, the House on Feb. 11 refused to require the Keystone XL Pipeline to pay into the government's Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. Sponsored by Democrats, this motion to S 1 (above) sought to void an Internal Revenue Service ruling under which crude extracted from tar sands is exempted from mandatory support of the oil-spill fund. The ruling spares TransCanada Corp., the Keystone owner, from having to pay 8 cents per barrel into the fund to help cover the cost of cleaning up any spills. Congress established the fund in response to the 1989 Exxon Valdez grounding, which spilled hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude into Alaska's Prince William Sound.

A yes vote was to require the Keystone XL Pipeline to contribute to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

Voting no: Valadao, McCarthy

CHARITABLE DEDUCTIONS, NATIONAL DEBT: By a vote of 279 for and 137 against, the House on Feb. 12 passed a GOP-drafted bill (HR 644) giving permanent status to tax deductions received by businesses for donating food inventories to charitable organizations. Because the bill is not paid for, it is projected by the Joint Committee on Taxation to add $2.2 billion to the national debt through fiscal 2025. The bill raises from 10 percent to 15 percent the maximum percentage of net income that businesses can deduct for food donations. Separately, the bill gives permanent status to tax deductions for conservation easements and allows contributions to be made from Individual Retirement Accounts to charities.

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate, where it may face a 60-vote hurdle.

Voting yes: Valadao, McCarthy

CORPORATE TAX AVOIDANCE: By a vote of 168 for and 245 against, the House on Feb. 12 defeated a Democratic motion that would deny benefits under HR 644 (above) to any business that reincorporates overseas to avoid U.S. taxes, a process known as "inversion" that is becoming increasingly prevalent.

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

Voting no: Valadao, McCarthy

DEPRECIATION BREAKS, FEDERAL DEFICITS: By a vote of 272 for and 142 against, the House on Feb. 13 passed a GOP-drafted bill (HR 636) giving permanent status to tax-code provisions that allow small- and medium-sized businesses to immediately depreciate the full cost of equipment and certain other property. Because the bill is not paid for, it is projected to add $77 billion to federal deficits through fiscal 2025. The bill would allow companies to depreciate up to $500,000 annually in qualified property, with a limit of $2 million per year in total write-offs.

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate, where it may face a 60-vote hurdle.

Voting yes: Valadao, McCarthy

PAY-AS-YOU-GO TAX BREAK: Voting 173 for and 241 against, the House on Feb. 13 defeated a Democratic motion to limit the depreciation breaks in HR 636 (above) to one year and require their cost to be offset elsewhere in the budget. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the GOP-drafted bill would add $77 billion to federal deficits through fiscal 2025 because it is not paid for.

A yes vote was to put the bill on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Voting no: Valadao, McCarthy

SENATE

DEFENSE SECRETARY ASHTON CARTER: By a vote of 93 for and five against, the Senate on Feb. 12 confirmed Ashton B. Carter, 60, as the nation's 25th secretary of defense. A physicist, Carter served between 2009-2013 as deputy secretary of defense and undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. He is a former department chair at Harvard's John. F. Kennedy School of Government and has been an advisor to Goldman Sachs and a partner in Global Technology Partners, a Beltway investment-advice firm.

A yes vote was to confirm Carter as the fourth secretary of defense under President Obama.

Voting yes: Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, both D-Calif.

Source: Thomas Voting Reports Inc.

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