Contact: 202-224-3254
Website: https://www.ernst.senate.gov/public

Name: Joni Ernst


Senate: Iowa, Republican


Cumulative Freedom Index Score: 57%


Status: Active Member of the Senate

Score Breakdown:
60% (115th Congress: 2017-2018); 57% (114th Congress: 2015-2016)

Key Votes:



On Passage of the Bill S. 722: Iranian and Russian Sanctions
Vote Date: June 15, 2017Vote: AYEBad Vote.
The Countering Iran's Destabilizing Activities Act (S. 722) would impose new sanctions on Iran and Russia, and codify sanctions imposed by the Obama administration on Russia. The bill enjoyed strong bipartisan support. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor that "we must take a stronger stance in deterring Iran and holding its regime accountable for its actions and addressing Russia's years-long pattern of provocations." Those provocations, according to supporters of the bill, included Russia's military action in Ukraine, its intervention in Syria, and its alleged hacking of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that the bill "stands up to the aggression of Russia and Iran."

The Senate passed S. 722 on June 15, 2017 by a vote of 98 to 2 (Roll Call 147). We have assigned pluses to the nays because imposing new sanctions on Iran and Russia in the name of punishing the regimes' provocations and aggression could itself be viewed as provocative and could result in push-back further involving the United States in the affairs of other countries and regions. Instead of acting as a global cop, America would be best served by returning to our traditional and constitutionally sound foreign policy of staying clear of foreign quarrels.



Motion: Blocking U.S. Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia
Vote Date: June 13, 2017Vote: NAYBad Vote.
Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced this bill (Senate Joint Resolution 42) to block the sale of "certain defense articles" to Saudi Arabia, including laser-guided weapons systems and fighter aircraft. Paul has opposed selling arms to Saudi Arabia because the regime oppresses its own people, is engaged militarily in the civil war in Yemen, and has supported ISIS. "Who in their right mind would give money, arms, or share our technology with a country that has been supporting ISIS?" Paul asked on the Senate floor.

The Senate did not vote directly on S. J. Res. 42 but on a motion to discharge the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (where the resolution was pending) from further consideration of the resolution so that it could be considered by the full Senate. The discharge motion, which was made by Paul, was rejected on June 13, 2017 by a vote of 47 to 53 (Roll Call 143). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because the United States should not interject itself in foreign conflicts such as the civil war in Yemen (via arms sales to one of the combatants in that conflict -- Saudi Arabia), and should not take steps tantamount to going to war without a declaration of war by Congress.



Motion: Omnibus Appropriations
Vote Date: May 4, 2017Vote: NAYGood Vote.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act or omnibus bill (H.R. 244) would provide $1.16 trillion in discretionary appropriations through September 30, 2017 for the following federal departments and agencies: Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, Defense, Energy-Water, Financial Services, Homeland Security, Interior-Environment, Labor-HHS-Education, Legislative, State-Foreign Operations, Transportation-HUD, and various U.S. intelligence agencies.

The Senate agreed to the omnibus appropriations bill on May 4, 2017 by a vote of 79 to 18 (Roll Call 121). We have assigned pluses to the nays because with this fiscal 2017 omnibus appropriations bill, Congress is failing to address its fiscally and constitutionally irresponsible budgeting and appropriating process that is currently yielding annual federal deficits measured in the hundreds of billions of dollars that contribute directly to the dramatic growth of our nearly $20 trillion national debt.



On the Joint Resolution H.J.Res. 43: Federal Family Planning
Vote Date: March 30, 2017Vote: AYEGood Vote.
This legislation (House Joint Resolution 43) would disapprove of and nullify a Health and Human Services Department rule that prevents states that distribute federal family funding from prohibiting participation and receipt of funds by healthcare providers, such as Planned Parenthood, for any reason other than their ability to provide family planning services.

The Senate passed H. J. Res. 43 on March 30, 2017 by a vote of 50 to 50 with Vice President Mike Pence casting a tie-breaking "yea" vote (Roll Call 101). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because this bill limits the power of an unconstitutional federal government agency. The U.S. Constitution does not authorize the federal government to get involved in healthcare, much less establish a Department of Health and Human Services, so any attempt to limit the power of an unconstitutional federal agency is a step in the right direction.



On the Resolution of Ratification Treaty Doc. 114-12: Montenegro NATO Membership
Vote Date: March 28, 2017Vote: AYEBad Vote.
This resolution of ratification (Treaty Document 114-12) would allow the Balkan country of Montenegro to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The NATO military alliance was created in 1949 for the stated purpose of countering the threat posed by the Soviet bloc. Under the North Atlantic Treaty establishing NATO, member nations "agree that an armed attack against one or more of them ... shall be considered an attack against them all." At first there were 12 countries in the alliance, but the number of member nations has more than doubled over the years to 28 - 29 with Montenegro's entry into NATO.

The Senate approved the treaty of ratification for admitting Montenegro into NATO by the very lopsided vote of 97 to 2 on March 28, 2017 (Roll Call 98; a two-thirds majority of those present and voting in the Senate is required to ratify a treaty). We have assigned pluses to the nays not only because the United States should stay clear of entangling alliances such as NATO but also because the NATO provision that obligates the United States to go to war if any member of NATO is attacked undermines the provision in the U.S. Constitution that assigns to Congress the power to declare war. Montenegro, which was part of communist Yugoslavia during the Cold War era, is now one of 28 countries the United States is obligated to defend under NATO.



On the Joint Resolution H.J.Res. 69: Predator Control
Vote Date: March 21, 2017Vote: AYEGood Vote.
This legislation (House Joint Resolution 69) would disapprove of and nullify a U.S. Department of Interior rule, "Non-Subsistence Take of Wildlife, and Public Participating and Close Procedures, on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska," which was released in final form on August 5, 2016.

The Senate passed H. J. Res. 69 on March 21, 2017 by a vote of 52-47 (Roll Call 92). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because it reaffirms Alaska's sovereign power to manage its wildlife. Since the power of wildlife management was not granted to the federal government by the Constitution, it is reserved to Alaska and the other 49 states according to the 10th Amendment.



On the Joint Resolution H.J.Res. 40: Firearms Purchases
Vote Date: February 15, 2017Vote: AYEGood Vote.
This legislation (House Joint Resolution 40) would disapprove of and nullify a Social Security Administration rule that outlines reporting of information by the agency on certain non-elderly individuals who receive disability insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits for inclusion in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System for gun purchases if they receive benefits based on a finding of mental impairment and use a "representative payee" because they cannot manage their benefit payments.

The Senate passed H. J. Res. 40 on February 15, 2017 by a vote of 57 to 43 (Roll Call 66). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because the Social Security Administration rule violates the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by infringing on the right of people to keep and bear arms.



On the Joint Resolution H.J.Res. 38: Stream Protection Rule
Vote Date: February 2, 2017Vote: AYEGood Vote.
This legislation (House Joint Resolution 38) would disapprove of and nullify the "Stream Protection Rule" issued by the Department of the Interior's Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement in 2016. This new rule would "jeopardize thousands of coal and coal-related jobs, devastate coal producing communities, and put a majority of the country's coal reserves off limits," according to the bill's lead sponsor in the House, Representative Bill Johnson (R-Ohio).

The Senate passed H. J. Res. 38 on February 2, 2017 by a vote of 54 to 45 (Roll Call 43). We have assigned pluses to the yeas not only because the federal government has no constitutional authority to issue environmental regulations, but also because environmental regulations such as the "Stream Protection Rule" destroy jobs and increase energy costs. Also, states already protect streamwater.



Motion: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid
Vote Date: January 10, 2017Vote: NAYGood Vote.
During consideration of the congressional budget for fiscal 2017 (Senate Concurrent Resolution 3), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) offered an amendment to prevent the reduction of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits; an increase of the retirement age; or privatizing Social Security.

The Senate did not vote directly on Sanders' amendment but on a motion to waive all applicable sections of the budget law with respect to a point of order against Sanders' amendment. The Senate rejected this motion on January 10, 2017 by a vote of 49 to 49. (Roll Call 6; a three-fifths majority of the entire Senate -- 60 votes -- was needed to waive the applicable sections of the budget law). We have assigned pluses to the nays because the rapid projected growth in future spending for these programs under current law is unsustainable due to both the declining ratio between workers and Social Security recipients, and also the fact that people are living longer. Plus, there is no constitutional authorization for these programs. Those who genuinely want to help the needy should recognize that the best way to do it is to phase out government social-welfare programs in favor of private alternatives.



On the Amendment S.Amdt. 1 to S.Con.Res. 3: Balancing the Budget
Vote Date: January 9, 2017Vote: NAYBad Vote.
During consideration of the congressional budget for fiscal 2017 (Senate Concurrent Resolution 3) on January 4, 2017, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) pointed out in a speech on the Senate floor that this proposed budget would add nearly $10 trillion to our national debt over the next 10 years without ever balancing the budget. He added: "I'm not for it. That's not why I ran for office. It's not why I'm here. It's not why I spend time away from my family and from my medical practice. It's because debt is consuming our country." Paul went on to introduce a substitute amendment that would balance the budget by 2024.

The Senate rejected Paul's substitute amendment on January 9, 2017 by a vote of 14 to 83 (Roll Call 3). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because fiscal responsibility is an excellent first step toward constitutional responsibility.



On the Motion (Motion to Concur in the House Amendment to S. 612): Water Projects
Vote Date: December 10, 2016Vote: AYEBad Vote.
This bill (S. 612) would authorize approximately $10 billion for construction of 30 Army Corps of Engineers water projects, including navigation, flood control, and environmental restoration projects. It would authorize $170 million in response to the lead-contaminated water system in Flint, Michigan.

The Senate agreed to S. 612 on December 10, 2016 by a vote of 78 to 21 (Roll Call 163). We have assigned pluses to the nays because Army Corps of Engineers water projects are unconstitutional. Nowhere does the Constitution give the federal government authority to “restore” or “improve” the environment or guarantee safe drinking water. Such projects, if needed, should be handled by the states and cities. Further, many of the Army Corps of Engineers projects actually have disastrous results, far from what was originally intended.



On the Motion (Motion to Concur in the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 2028): Continuing Appropriations
Vote Date: December 9, 2016Vote: AYEBad Vote.
This bill (H.R. 2028) perpetuates Congress’ growing habit of avoiding hard decisions about the level of federal spending by kicking the can down the road into the middle of the new fiscal year, with a continuing resolution that would provide funding for federal government operations at the fiscal year 2016 level through April 28, 2017 at an annualized discretionary rate of $1.07 trillion.

The Senate agreed to H.R. 2028 on December 9, 2016 by a vote of 63 to 36 (Roll Call 161). We have assigned pluses to the nays because with this Continuing Appropriations bill Congress is failing to address its fiscally and constitutionally irresponsible budgeting and appropriating process that is currently yielding annual federal deficits measured in the hundreds of billions of dollars that contribute directly to the dramatic growth of our $20 trillion national debt.



On the Conference Report S. 2943: National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)
Vote Date: December 8, 2016Vote: AYEBad Vote.
This bill (S. 2943) authorizes $611.2 billion for military programs in fiscal year 2017, including $59.5 billion for foreign operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Among its many provisions, the massive bill creates a “Global Engagement Center” to counter “foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts.” Dubbed an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth” by critics including THE NEW AMERICAN, this new government propaganda center is authorized to “provide financial support” to (among others) “media content providers,” including “local independent media who are best placed to refute foreign disinformation and manipulation in their own communities.”

The Senate passed the final version (conference report) of S. 2943 on December 8, 2016 by a vote of 92 to 7 (Roll Call 159). We have assigned pluses to the nays because the authorizations in this bill go way beyond providing for our national defense. Our foreign military interventions in the Middle East in particular have exacerbated terrorism and undermined U.S. security. The creation of the Orwellian “Global Engagement Center,” which was added to the NDAA without Congress being able to vote on it as a stand-alone bill, also falls outside the scope of legitimate national defense. Rather than agreeing to the version of NDAA they did, our lawmakers should have rejected it and passed instead a constitutionally sound version.



On the Motion to Table S.J.Res. 39: Saudi Arabia
Vote Date: September 21, 2016Vote: AYEBad Vote.
This legislation (Senate Joint Resolution 39) would block the proposed $1.15 billion sale of tanks and other military equipment to Saudi Arabia. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who sponsored S. J. Res. 39, said prior to the vote that the debate should not just be about whether to “sell arms to Saudi Arabia,” but whether to “sell arms to Saudi Arabia for the war in Yemen,” where presumably the tanks would be used.

The Senate did not vote directly on S. J. Res. 39; it voted instead to table (kill) a motion to discharge S. J. Res. 39 from committee, thereby effectively killing the bill. The vote, on September 21, 2016, was 71 to 27 (Roll Call 145). We have assigned pluses to the nays because the United States should not interject itself in foreign conflicts such as the civil war in Yemen, and should not take steps tantamount to going to war without congressional debate and a declaration of war by Congress.



On the Conference Report S. 524: Opioid Abuse Treatment and Prevention
Vote Date: July 13, 2016Vote: AYEBad Vote.
This bill (S. 524) would authorize $103 million annually through fiscal 2021 for the Department of Justice to award grants to state, local, and tribal governments to provide services relating to opioid abuse, including first-responder training for opioid overdose reversal drugs and treatment alternatives to incarceration programs. It also would establish a Health and Human Services Department grant program for states to encourage pharmacists to dispense opioid overdose reversal drugs pursuant to a “standing order,” which permits pharmacists to dispense medication without a person-specific prescription.

The Senate passed the final version (conference report) of S. 524 on July 13, 2016 by a vote of 92 to 2 (Roll Call 129). We have assigned pluses to the nays because attempting to help citizens deal with drug overdose and addiction is not a responsibility of the U.S. government under the Constitution. While it is arguably better to treat addicts as people having a medical problem rather than as criminals needing incarceration, this is not a constitutional use of taxpayer money. Such programs, if handled by government, should be handled by local or state governments rather than the federal government.



On the Motion (Motion to Concur in the House Amendment to S. 764 with Further Amendment (Amdt. No. 4935)): GMO Labeling
Vote Date: July 7, 2016Vote: AYEBad Vote.
This substitute amendment to S. 764 would require the Department of Agriculture to establish a national mandatory disclosure standard for genetically modified organism (GMO) food within two years of the bill’s enactment. This bill as amended “prohibits states or political subdivisions of states from establishing or continuing requirements for labeling or disclosure of bioengineered or genetically engineered food that are not identical to the mandatory disclosure standard established by this bill.” Companies could choose to provide GMO disclosure through a symbol or by electronic bar codes that could be scanned by smart phones.

The Senate passed this amended version of S. 764 on July 7, 2016 by a vote of 63 to 30 (Roll Call 123). We have assigned pluses to the nays because the power to pass legislation regarding agriculture in general and the labeling of agricultural products in particular was not granted to Congress by the Constitution. Therefore, this amended version of S. 764 usurps the power of the states to pass laws regarding GMO labeling of food products.



On Cloture on the Motion to Proceed S. 3100: Sanctuary Cities
Vote Date: July 6, 2016Vote: AYEGood Vote.
This bill (S. 3100) would make states and cities ineligible for certain federal grants if they place restrictions on sharing information about the immigration status of individuals with the federal government or on fulfilling Homeland Security Department (DHS) requests to comply with “detainers,” or requests to keep an immigrant in custody.

The Senate did not vote directly on S. 3100 but on a motion to invoke cloture (and thus limit debate) so the bill could come up for a vote. The motion to invoke cloture was rejected on July 6, 2016 by a vote of 53 to 44 (Roll Call 119; a three-fifths majority of the entire Senate is required to invoke cloture). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because the presence of “sanctuary cities,” in which cities and states harbor illegal immigrants and protect them from deportation, is a violation of federal immigration law. Saying such cities and states are ineligible for federal grants, while imperfect in that it essentially uses federal (and likely unconstitutional) grant money as a “bribe,” is still a step in the right direction.



On the Motion to Table H.R. 2578: No-fly List
Vote Date: June 23, 2016Vote: AYEGood Vote.
During consideration of the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill (H.R. 2578), Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) offered an amendment that would authorize the attorney general to deny the transfer of a firearm to an individual who appears on the "no fly list" or the "selectee list" and would require notification to law-enforcement officials if an individual who has appeared on the Terrorist Screening Database within the last five years has requested a firearm transfer.

The Senate did not vote directly on Collins' amendment but on a motion to table (kill) another motion to send H.R. 2578 back to committee with instructions to add Collins’ amendment to the bill. The motion to table was rejected on June 23, 2016 by a vote of 46 to 52 (Roll Call 109). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because restricting non-criminals from flying is a violation of the Fifth Amendment's guarantee of "due process of law," and linking firearm ownership to a federal no-fly list is a violation of the Second Amendment's protection of the right of the people to keep and bear arms. The federal no-fly list includes many people with no criminal record, and some people with identical or similar names to convicted criminals are erroneously placed on the list.



On the Motion to Table H.R. 2578: Firearm Sales Background Checks
Vote Date: June 20, 2016Vote: AYEGood Vote.
During consideration of the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill (H.R. 2578), Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) offered an amendment to require that a background check be conducted for every U.S. firearm sale.

The Senate did not vote directly on Murphy’s amendment but on a motion to table (kill) another motion to send H.R. 2578 back to committee with instructions to add Murphy’s amendment to the bill. The motion to table was agreed to on June 20, 2016 by a vote of 56 to 42 (Roll Call 107). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because federally mandated background checks for all firearm purchases have long been a goal of gun-control advocates, as they could easily be used to restrict firearm ownership by setting arbitrary requirements for passing the background checks. Murphy’s amendment is a blatant violation of the Second Amendment, which prohibits the federal government from infringing upon the people’s right to keep and bear arms.



On the Cloture Motion S.Amdt. 4549 to S.Amdt. 4229 to S. 2943 (National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017): Overseas Domestic Programs
Vote Date: June 9, 2016Vote: NAYGood Vote.
During consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 2943), Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.) introduced an amendment that would authorize an additional $18 billion in overseas contingency operations for domestic programs. Part of the $18 billion includes $1.1 billion to combat heroin and opioid addiction, $1.9 billion to implement an integrated campaign plan to counter ISIS, and $1.9 billion to treat the Zika virus and prevent Zika outbreaks.

The Senate did not vote directly on Reed’s amendment but on a motion to invoke cloture (and thus limit debate) so the amendment could come up for a vote. The motion to invoke cloture was rejected on June 9, 2016 by a vote of 43 to 55 (Roll Call 95). We have assigned pluses to the nays because funding overseas contingency operations for domestic programs is not “defense” spending and does not belong in the NDAA. The federal government has no constitutional authority to engage in such spending for operations in other countries, and using American taxpayer dollars in an attempt to fight drugs and disease is inappropriate.



On the Motion to Table S.Amdt. 3897 to S.Amdt. 3896 to H.R. 2577 (Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016): Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing
Vote Date: May 19, 2016Vote: NAYGood Vote.
During consideration of the THUD (Transportation, Housing and Urban Development)-VA appropriations bill (H.R. 2577), Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced an amendment that would prohibit the use of funds to carry out the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule and notice of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.According to Tom DeWeese, a nationally known property rights activist, “AFFH requires communities that apply for HUD grants to strip search every neighborhood, detailing income level, religion, race, and national origin of every single person living there. HUD has created specific guidelines dictating specific numbers of each for a proper ‘balance.’ If there are any shortages in any of the categories, then the neighborhood is deemed to be ‘out of balance.’ HUD then requires that the community correct the situation…. The result is social engineering that is leading to the destruction of property values and property rights of neighborhoods.”

The Senate agreed to a motion to table (kill) Lee’s amendment on May 19, 2016 by a vote of 60 to 37 (Roll Call 81). We have assigned pluses to the nays because there is no authorization in the Constitution for Congress to establish and fund the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the first place, let alone fund the radical AFFH rule that imposes unconstitutional federal controls on local zoning and planning authorities.



On Passage of the Bill H.R. 2577: THUD-Milcon/VA Appropriations
Vote Date: May 19, 2016Vote: AYEBad Vote.
This bill (H.R. 2577) would provide $56.5 billion in discretionary funding for transportation and housing and urban development-related agencies, and $83 billion in discretionary funding for military construction and veteran's affairs projects. Additionally, as amended, the bill would provide $1.1 billion in funding to combat the Zika virus for the remainder of fiscal 2016 and for fiscal 2017.

The Senate passed H.R. 2577 on May 19,2016 by a vote of 89 to 8 (Roll Call 82). We have assigned pluses to the nays because any federal involvement in the transportation or housing markets via regulations or subsidies is an overstepping of constitutional boundaries. Government involvement in the housing market can cause market distortions, and subsidizing housing for those who cannot afford it is a form of wealth redistribution. While helping veterans is arguably constitutional, the Department of Veterans affairs,and the Veterans Health Administration in particular, is a bloated, inefficient bureaucracy and a perfect example of the failures of socialized medicine. The federal government ought to cover veterans' healthcare costs but allow them to use the same private sector healthcare services that non-veterans use. This would be cheaper, offer better care, and be more efficient than the current VA boondoggle, and be constitutional.



On Passage of the Bill H.R. 2028: Energy-Water Appropriations
Vote Date: May 12, 2016Vote: AYEBad Vote.
This bill (H.R. 2028) would provide $37.5 billion in fiscal 2017 for the Energy Department, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Interior Department’s Bureau of Reclamation. It would provide approximately $30.7 billion for the Energy Department and $6 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers. Additionally, as amended, the bill would provide $95 million for wind energy from within the Energy Department’s energy efficiency and renewable energy funding.

The Senate passed H.R. 2028 on May 12,2016 by a vote of 90 to 8 (Roll Call 71). We have assigned pluses to the nays because the U.S. Constitution does not authorize the federal government to regulate or otherwise get involved in energy production. Particularly troubling is the $95 million subsidy for wind energy, which is an intermittent energy source that will not replace any conventional energy utilities. While chump change when compared to most federal spending, it is still unconstitutional and a crony-capitalist venture whereby the government is rigging the market by picking winners and losers. The federal government should stay out of energy production,period, and leave it up to a free market to decide what type of and how much energy should be produced.



On Passage of the Bill H.R. 636: FAA Reauthorization
Vote Date: April 19, 2016Vote: AYEBad Vote.
This bill (H.R. 636) would reauthorize federal aviation programs through fiscal 2017, to the tune of $7.1 billion for the airport improvement program, $5.7 billion for air navigation facilities and equipment, $19.9 billion for Federal Aviation Administration operations, $335 million for research and development, and $310 million for the Essential Air Service. The bill would include new regulations and safety standards for small, private-sector drones, including those used for business purposes.

The Senate passed H.R. 636 on April 19,2016 by a vote of 95 to 3 (Roll Call 47). We have assigned pluses to the nays because the U.S. Constitution does not authorize the federal government to regulate and/or manage segments of the economy, such as aviation. Airplane manufacturers, airlines, and airports should all be privately run, and not subsidized by the federal government.

Regarding the private-sector use of drones, this is another area the federal government should stay out of. Local ordinances or, at most, state laws would be sufficient to manage any problems that might arise from this new technology.



On the Amendment S.Amdt. 3482 to S.Amdt. 3464 to H.R. 636 (America's Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2015): TSA
Vote Date: April 7, 2016Vote: AYEBad Vote.
During consideration of the FAA reauthorization bill (H.R. 636), Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) introduced an amendment that would authorize funding for additional Transportation Security Administration (TSA) teams for fiscal 2016 and 2017. Heinrich’s amendment would also expand the definition of law-enforcement terrorism-prevention activities to include mass shooting preparedness exercises.

The Senate adopted Heinrich’s amendment on April 7, 2016 by a vote of 91 to 5 (Roll Call 42). We have assigned pluses to the nays because the TSA is a classic example of federal overreach and should be abolished, not given additional funding. The TSA is known for its rude, inept employees who grope and otherwise violate air travelers, in the name of providing security. But rather than an inefficient, bloated, unaccountable federal bureaucracy, security should be provided by the airlines, which have a vested interest in keeping their customers safe. Regarding the expansion of terrorism-prevention activities to include mass-shooting preparedness exercises, this is another transparent attempt to federalize law enforcement and expand the police state. Constitutionally speaking, local law enforcement should handle shootings, not the federal government, even if the feds are working in conjunction with local law enforcement.



On the Nomination PN1152: King Nomination.
Vote Date: March 14, 2016Vote: NAYGood Vote.
On February 11, 2016, President Obama nominated John B. King to succeed Arne Duncan as secretary of education. Immediately prior to assuming leadership of the Department of Education, King served as deputy secretary of education. Before that, he served as commissioner of education of the state of New York, overseeing the New York State Education Department, from 2011 to 2015. The liberal Huffington Post describes King as a “fierce supporter of Common Core.” As commissioner, he supervised the implementation of the Common Core State Standards in New York. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) said about King, “He forced on an unwilling school system an unpopular Common Core curriculum and standards, inflexible testing regimes and
a flawed teacher evaluation system.”

The Senate confirmed the nomination on March 14, 2016 by a vote of 49 to 40 (Roll Call 36). We have assigned pluses to the nays because of King’s adamant support for Common Core and its universal one-size fits all approach to local education. Moreover, the Department of Education is unconstitutional.



On the Amendment S.Amdt. 3023 to S.Amdt. 2953 to S. 2012 (Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015): National Monuments
Vote Date: February 2, 2016Vote: AYEGood Vote.
During consideration of an energy policy bill (S. 2012), Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced an amendment specifying that national monuments declared by the president after the enactment of this amendment would expire after three years, except when the monuments are approved by federal and state law.

The Senate rejected Lee’s amendment on February 2, 2016 by a vote of 47 to 48 (Roll Call 10). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because U.S. presidents, including Obama, have established these national monuments through executive orders, thereby placing huge tracts of land off-limits to development, without the approval of either Congress or the states where the land is located.



On the Cloture Motion S.J.Res. 22: Waters of the United States
Vote Date: January 21, 2016Vote: AYEGood Vote.
This measure (Senate Joint Resolution 22) would provide for congressional disapproval of the “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule submitted by the Corps of Engineers and the EPA. See House Vote 21 for more information on this bill.

The Senate did not vote on S. J. Res. 22 itself but on a motion to invoke cloture (and thus limit debate) so the measure could come up for a vote. The motion to invoke cloture was rejected on January 21, 2016 by a vote of 52 to 40 (Roll Call 5; a three-fifths majority of the entire Senate is required to invoke cloture). We have assigned pluses to the yeas. See House Vote 21 for the reason why.



On the Cloture Motion H.R. 4038: Iraqi and Syrian Refugees
Vote Date: January 20, 2016Vote: AYEGood Vote.
This bill (H.R. 4038) would require that before a Syrian or Iraqi refugee could be permitted to enter the United States the FBI director would have to certify that a background check had been performed that was sufficient to ascertain whether the refugee would be a security threat,and that the Homeland Security secretary, with the agreement of the FBI director and the director of national intelligence, would have to certify that the refugee would not be a security threat.

The Senate did not vote on H.R. 4038 itself but on a motion to invoke cloture (and thus limit debate) so the bill could come up for a vote. The motion to invoke cloture was rejected on January 20, 2016 by a vote of 55 to 43 (Roll Call 4; a three-fifths majority of the entire Senate is required to invoke cloture). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because Congress is authorized to protect each state against invasion.



On Cloture on the Motion to Proceed S. 2232: Federal Reserve Audit
Vote Date: January 12, 2016Vote: AYEGood Vote.
The Federal Reserve Transparency Act (S. 2232) would “require a full audit of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Reserve banks by the Comptroller General of the United States,” according to the text of the bill. “I think that it’s about time we pull back the curtain to uncover this cloak of secrecy once and for all,” Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), the bill’s sponsor, noted.

The Senate did not vote on S. 2232 itself but on a motion to invoke cloture (and thus limit debate) so the bill could come up for a vote. The motion to invoke cloture was rejected on January 12, 2016 by a vote of 53 to 44 (Roll Call 2; a three-fifths majority of the entire Senate is required to invoke cloture). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because the Federal Reserve system, essentially a cartel of private banks functioning as a central bank, is unconstitutional and is responsible for much of the nation’s current financial problems via its control of money and credit. An audit of the Fed would shed light on its otherwise secretive practices and perhaps lead to its eventual abolishment.



On the Motion (Motion to Concur in the House Amendments to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 2029): Omnibus Appropriations
Vote Date: December 18, 2015Vote: NAYGood Vote.
The omnibus appropriations bill (H.R.2029) would provide $1.15 trillion in discretionary appropriations in fiscal 2016 for federal departments and agencies covered by the 12 unfinished fiscal 2016 spending bills. This represents an overall increase in discretionary spending of five percent over 2015 levels. See House Vote 20 for more details.

The Senate agreed to the omnibus appropriations bill on December 18, 2015 by a vote of 65 to 33 (Roll Call 339). We have assigned pluses to the nays because with this omnibus bill members of Congress are failing to address their fiscally and constitutionally irresponsible budgeting and appropriating process that is currently yielding annual federal deficits measured in the hundreds of billions of dollars, as well as minimizing their accountability to the voters by combining all discretionary federal spending for fiscal 2016 into one gigantic “take it or leave it” bill.



On the Conference Report S. 1177: Education
Vote Date: December 9, 2015Vote: AYEBad Vote.
This bill (S. 1177), the Every Student Succeeds Act (first introduced as the Every Child Achieves Act), would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESAA) for four years, through fiscal 2020. Total authorizations would be $24.5 billion for fiscal 2017, increasing to $26.1 billion in fiscal 2020. The bill would replace the No Child Left Behind Act, and continue the requirement for regular standardized testing in core subject areas such as math, reading, and science. Scores for the standardized tests are to be separated by categories such as race and income to determine if any “subgroup” is lagging academically. The bill would also require states to develop plans to help low-performing public schools.

The Senate passed S. 1177 on December 9, 2015 by a vote of 85 to 12 (Roll Call 334). We have assigned pluses to the nays because, as explained in House vote 19, the federal government has no constitutional authority to be involved with education; nowhere in the U.S. Constitution is education listed as one of the government’s enumerated powers. K-12 education, if publicly funded, should be run primarily by parents coordinating with local school districts rather than by a centralized bureaucracy out of Washington, D.C



On the Joint Resolution S.J.Res. 24: Power Plant Emissions
Vote Date: November 17, 2015Vote: AYEGood Vote.
This legislation (Senate Joint Resolution 24) would disapprove and nullify the Environmental Protection Agency’s rule relating to “Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units,” published on October 23, 2015. According to Congressional Quarterly, the EPA rule “sets different emissions targets for 49 states based on their existing energy profile and requires each state to reduce emissions by a certain amount by 2030.” Upon passage of the bill by the House of Representatives, Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), the original Senate sponsor, said in a statement, “Hardworking families cannot afford these crushing regulations that threaten jobs and affordable energy while doing little to actually improve the environment.”

The Senate passed S. J. Res. 24 on November 17, 2015 by a vote of 52 to 46 (Roll Call 306). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because the federal government should not hinder existing power plants with regulations that stifle energy production and increase rates, there is no authorization in the Constitution for the federal government to interfere in the energy sector, and CO2 is not a pollutant.



On the Joint Resolution S.J.Res. 22: Waters of the United States
Vote Date: November 4, 2015Vote: AYEGood Vote.
This legislation (Senate Joint Resolution 22) would provide for congressional disapproval of the “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule submitted by the Corps of Engineers and the EPA. According to Representative Steve Southerland (R-Fla.), sponsor of a similar bill in the House in September 2014, under this proposed WOTUS rule, “Federal agencies like the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers would see their regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act drastically expanded, to the point of covering almost any body of water throughout America, from ditches to culverts to pipes to watersheds to farmland ponds.”

The Senate passed S. J. Res. 22 on November 4, 2015 by a vote of 53 to 44 (Roll Call 297). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because both federal water regulations and the EPA are unconstitutional, and if the rule were to be allowed to go into effect, activities such as farming and real estate development would be greatly hampered, since farmers and developers would be subject to increased unconstitutional permit requirements and fines concerning their treatment of almost any “body of water,” no matter how small.



On the Motion (Motion to Concur in the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 1314): Raising the Spending Cap and Suspending the National Debt Limit
Vote Date: October 30, 2015Vote: NAYGood Vote.
This bill (H.R. 1314) would suspend the national debt limit until March 15, 2017, at which time the ceiling on how much money the federal government is allowed to borrow would be re-established at the size of the federal debt at that time. The bill would also raise caps intended to limit “discretionary” federal spending by $50 billion for fiscal 2016 and $30 billion for fiscal 2017.

The Senate agreed to this legislation on October 30, 2015 by a vote of 64 to 35 (Roll Call 294). We have assigned pluses to the nays because the federal government should live within its means, suspending the debt limit is even worse than raising it, and most of the spending responsible for the ballooning national debt is unconstitutional.



On Cloture on the Motion to Proceed S. 1881: Defunding Planned Parenthood (Cloture)
Vote Date: August 3, 2015Vote: AYEGood Vote.
This bill (S. 1881) would cut off federal funding of Planned Parenthood and its affiliates and clinics. Overall federal funding would not be reduced, since the funding “no longer available to Planned Parenthood will continue to be made available to other eligible entities to provide women’s health care services.”

The Senate did not vote directly on S. 1881 but instead on a motion intended to advance the bill. That motion, to invoke cloture and limit debate on a motion to proceed to the bill, was rejected on August 3, 2015 by a vote of 53 to 46 (Roll Call 262; the motion failed because a three-fifths majority of the entire Senate is required to invoke cloture). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because the federal government should not, and has no constitutional authority to, subsidize the killing of innocent human life.



On the Amendment S.Amdt. 2327 to S.Amdt. 2266 to H.R. 22 (Hire More Heroes Act of 2015): Export-Import Bank
Vote Date: July 27, 2015Vote: AYEBad Vote.
During consideration of the surface transportation bill (H.R. 22), Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) introduced an amendment to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank’s charter, which expired July 1, 2015, through fiscal 2019. As Senator Kirk said during debate on his amendment, “Unfortunately, as of July 1, the Ex-Im Bank has been unable to process any new transactions — and this poses a real threat to our economy. Business deals that are months or years in the making are now on hold, and may fall through, unless we reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank immediately.”

The Senate adopted Kirk’s amendment on July 27, 2015 by a vote of 64 to 29 (Roll Call 256). We have assigned pluses to the nays because the Export-Import Bank, as explained in House vote 16, is a poster boy for corporate cronyism. The government finances or insures foreign purchases from U.S. companies that commercial banks are unwilling or unable to finance owing to the political or commercial risks inherent in the deals, leaving taxpayers on the hook in the event of default.



On the Motion (Motion to Concur in the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 2146): Trade Promotion Authority
Vote Date: June 24, 2015Vote: AYEBad Vote.
During consideration of an otherwise relatively innocuous bill about public safety employee withdrawals, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) made a motion to concur with a House amendment to the bill that would grant Trade Promotion Authority(TPA) to the executive branch. See House Vote 11 for further information.

The Senate agreed to TPA on June 24,2015 by a vote of 60 to 38 (Roll Call 219).We have assigned pluses to the nays because TPA would facilitate the subordination of the national independence of the United States to regional blocs of nations in a process that is leading toward a world government.



On the Amendment S.Amdt. 1889 to S.Amdt. 1463 to H.R. 1735 (Military Construction Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016): Torture
Vote Date: June 16, 2015Vote: NAYBad Vote.
During consideration of the National Defense Authorization bill (H.R. 1735), Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.)introduced an amendment to ensure that the entire U.S. government complies with interrogation techniques permitted by Army Field Manual 2-22.3. Specifically,any individual in the custody of any U.S. government agent or detained at any U.S. government facility shall not be subjected to any interrogation technique, such as waterboarding,not authorized by Army Field Manual 2-22.3, entitled “Human Intelligence Collector Operations.” The amendment would also require that the Red Cross be allowed access to any detained individual. McCain’s amendment would require the U.S. secretary of defense to review Army Field Manual 2-22.3 every three years and revise it, if necessary, to ensure compliance with legal obligations of the United States, such as those contained within the Geneva Convention.

The Senate adopted McCain’s amendment on June 16, 2015 by a vote of 78 to 21 (Roll Call 209). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because any form of torture is a violation of a person’s God-given rights, regardless of whether or not the person is a U.S. citizen. In fact, the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment.” The U.S. government is not above the rule of law, and any government agency or agent must be held accountable to a standard that respects human rights and dignity.



On the Amendment S.Amdt. 1549 to S.Amdt. 1463 to H.R. 1735 (Military Construction Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016): Arming Iraqi Kurds
Vote Date: June 16, 2015Vote: AYEBad Vote.
During consideration of the National Defense Authorization bill (H.R. 1735), Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) introduced an amendment to authorize the president to “provide for a temporary, emergency authorization of defense articles, defense services, and related training directly to the Kurdistan Regional Government,” according to the text of the amendment. On June 15, 2015,speaking in support of her amendment on the Senate floor, Senator Ernst said, “This bipartisan amendment … provides temporary authority for the president ... to provide weapons directly to Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the fight against ISIS should the administration choose to do so.”

The Senate rejected Senator Ernst’s amendment on June 16, 2015 by a vote of 54 to 45 (Roll Call 210; a 60-vote threshold was required for passage pursuant to a unanimous consent agreement). We have assigned pluses to the nays because arming foreign fighters would be an act of war, and under the U.S. Constitution, only Congress may declare war. Moreover, our interventionist policy in the Middle East has exacerbated terrorism. In Syria, for example, arming the so-called moderate rebels helped create the ISIS threat. And regarding Iraq, arms sent to the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) could also fall into the hands of the rival Kurdistan
Workers’ Party (PKK), a communist terrorist group dedicated to the creation of a Marxist-Leninist state of Kurdistan. The KRG is divided between the more conservative Kurdistan Democratic Party (PDK) of Iraq and the left-wing Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which is affiliated with the Socialist International.



On the Motion to Table S.Amdt. 1986 to H.R. 1735 (Military Construction Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016): To reauthorize and reform the Export-Import Bank of the United States.
Vote Date: June 10, 2015Vote: NAYBad Vote.
Export-Import Bank.
During consideration of the defense authorization bill (H.R. 1735), Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) introduced an amendment to reauthorize the U.S. Export-Import Bank through 2019. The bank issued loans and loan guarantees to foreign governments or companies for the purchase of U.S. products.

The Senate rejected a motion to table (kill) Kirk's amendment on June 10, 2015 by a vote of 31 to 65 (Roll Call 206). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because the federal government has no constitutional authority risking taxpayers' money to provide loans and terms that the private sector considers too risky to provide. Indeed, U.S. government-backed export financing is a form of corporate welfare, and if the Ex-Im Bank went bust (as happened to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae), the taxpayers would have been stuck holding the bag. The bank's charter was not reauthorized, and it expired on June 30, 2015.



On the Amendment S.Amdt. 1243 to S.Amdt. 1221 to H.R. 1314 (Ensuring Tax Exempt Organizations the Right to Appeal Act): To strike the extension of the trade adjustment assistance program.
Vote Date: May 22, 2015Vote: AYEGood Vote.
Trade Adjustment Assistance.
During consideration of the Trade Promotion Authority bill (H.R. 1314), Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) introduced an amendment to strike the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) provisions in the bill. Those provisions would extend the TAA program through June 30, 2021.

The TPA (see the next vote) is needed, its proponents acknowledge, to facilitate enactment of trade agreements negotiated by the Obama administration and supported by the GOP congressional leadership. Those agreements - the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) - collectively dubbed ObamaTrade, would, proponents boast, create jobs and prosperity for Americans. But the TAA, which ObamaTrade proponents also support, provides assistance to help American workers who lose their jobs because of the trade agreements.

The Senate rejected Flake's amendment on May 22, 2015 by a vote of 35 to 63 (Roll Call 190). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because federal jobs programs are unconstitutional. Moreover, it makes no sense to claim that the federal government must cough up federal funds to help workers who will lose their jobs to supposedly jobs-creating trade agreements.



On Passage of the Bill H.R. 1314: A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for a right to an administrative appeal relating to adverse determinations of tax-exempt status of certain organizations.
Vote Date: May 22, 2015Vote: AYEBad Vote.
Trade Promotion Authority.
The Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) section of H.R. 1314 would renew the on-again-off-again "fast track authority" that Congress has often awarded to the president over the past several decades. The essential features of TPA are: (1) Congress unconstitutionally delegates authority "to regulate commerce with foreign nations" to the Executive Branch; and (2) Congress dramatically increases the probability of approval of trade agreements by restricting itself to an up-or-down vote with no amendments or filibusters allowed. See also House Vote 10.

The Senate passed H.R. 1314 on May 22, 2015 by a vote of 62 to 37 (Roll Call 193). We have assigned pluses to the nays because TPA would facilitate the subordination of the national independence of the United States to regional trading blocs, a power that is not granted to any branch of government in the Constitution.



On the Nomination PN4: Loretta E. Lynch, of New York, to be Attorney General
Vote Date: April 23, 2015Vote: NAYGood Vote.
Loretta Lynch Nomination.
The Senate confirmed the nomination of Loretta Lynch for U.S. attorney general on April 23, 2015 by a vote of 56 to 43 (Roll Call 165). We have assigned pluses to the nays because Lynch is supportive of blatantly unconstitutional actions on the part of the executive branch.

Lynch supported President Obama's use of an executive order to offer de facto amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, and promised to implement such amnesty as attorney general. Lynch also supports civil forfeiture, which is certainly an unconstitutional violation of private property rights, and deems it an "important tool of the Department of Justice." As Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) stated in early February when explaining his opposition to Lynch's nomination, "She remains non-committal on the legality of drone strikes against American citizens, while I believe such strikes unequivocally violate rights granted to us by the Sixth Amendment.... Mrs. Lynch also supports President Obama's calls for executive amnesty, which I vehemently oppose. The Attorney General must operate independent of politics, independent of the president and under the direction of the Constitution. I cannot support a nominee, like Mrs. Lynch, who rides roughshod on our Constitutional rights."



On the Amendment S.Amdt. 1114 to H.R. 2 (Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015): To repeal the individual mandate.
Vote Date: April 14, 2015Vote: AYEGood Vote.
Individual Mandate Repeal.
During consideration of a bill regarding Medicare payments to physicians (H.R. 2), Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced an amendment entitled "Restoring Individual Liberty" that would repeal the individual mandate of the ObamaCare law.

The Senate rejected Cornyn's amendment on April 14, 2015 by a vote of 54 to 45 (Roll Call 137). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because no branch of government has been empowered by the Constitution to force Americans to buy health insurance.



On the Amendment S.Amdt. 432 to S.Con.Res. 11: To provide additional resources to create the opportunity for more Americans to obtain a higher education and advanced job skills by supporting two free years of community college paid for by raising revenue through requiring millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share.
Vote Date: March 26, 2015Vote: NAYGood Vote.
Free Community College.
During consideration of the budget resolution (Senate Concurrent Resolution 11), Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) introduced an amendment to raise spending by $60.3 billion for social services education and jobs training in order to facilitate "two free years of community college paid for by raising revenue through requiring millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share."

The Senate rejected Baldwin's amendment on March 26, 2015 by a vote of 45 to 55 (Roll Call 100). We have assigned pluses to the nays because this resolution would steal wealth from some to give to others, cause an overabundance of workers in certain job fields (meaning grossly wasted funds), and expand unconstitutional federal involvement in education.



On the Amendment S.Amdt. 515 to S.Con.Res. 11: To establish a spending-neutral reserve fund relating to requiring the Federal Government to allow states to opt out of Common Core without penalty.
Vote Date: March 26, 2015Vote: AYEGood Vote.
Common Core.
During consideration of the budget resolution (Senate Concurrent Resolution 11), Senator David Vitter (R-La.) introduced an amendment to create a spending-neutral reserve fund to prohibit the federal government from mandating, incentivizing, or coercing states to adopt Common Core standards or any other similar standards. This amendment would also allow states that have already adopted Common Core to opt out without penalty.

The Senate adopted Vitter's amendment on March 26, 2015 by a vote of 54 to 46 (Roll Call 105). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because the federal government has no constitutional authority to interject itself in the education sector, and Common Core is intended to create a national curriculum leading to nationalizing education.



On the Amendment S.Amdt. 649 to S.Con.Res. 11: To establish a spending-neutral reserve fund relating to prohibiting funding of international organizations during the implementation of the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty prior to Senate ratification and adoption of implementing legislation.
Vote Date: March 26, 2015Vote: AYEGood Vote.
UN Arms Treaty.
During consideration of the budget resolution (Senate Concurrent Resolution 11), Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) introduced an amendment "to establish a spending-neutral reserve fund relating to prohibiting funding of international organizations during the implementation of the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty prior to Senate ratification and adoption of implementing legislation." The amendment essentially allows the chairman of the Committee on the Budget of the Senate to reallocate spending to prevent implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty, provided such action does not raise new revenue or increase the deficit.

During debate on the amendment, Senator Inhofe remarked, "President Obama has signed the treaty but has not submitted it for ratification; for one reason, he knows the votes are not there. Two years ago, at 5 a.m. in the morning, 53 Senators, from both parties, voted for my amendment very similar to this. My amendment would prevent funds from going to the treaty Secretariat or any other organization that is working to implement this treaty."

The Senate adopted Inhofe's amendment on March 26, 2015 by a vote of 59 to 41 (Roll Call 108). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because the UN Arms Trade Treaty is an attempt by a global governance body, the United Nations, to regulate weapons. Such regulation is at odds with the American ideals of national sovereignty and freedom to bear arms without infringement by government. While the UN likely wouldn't march into American neighborhoods to confiscate guns the moment the treaty was ratified, ratification of the treaty would be a step in the wrong direction. Any opposition to the UN Arms Trade Treaty is to be commended.



On the Amendment S.Amdt. 255 to H.R. 240 (Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2015): Of a perfecting nature.
Vote Date: February 27, 2015Vote: NAYGood Vote.
Executive Action on Immigration.
Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) introduced a new version of the Homeland Security appropriations bill (H.R. 240), in the form of a substitute amendment, that would eliminate the bill's provisions prohibiting the use of funds for carrying out President Obama’s unconstitutional executive actions on illegal immigration. The provisions targeted for elimination would defund the Obama administration’s executive actions announced on November 20, 2014 to grant deferred action for an estimated four million illegal immigrants in the United States.

The Senate adopted Cochran's substitute amendment on February 27, 2015 by a vote of 66 to 33 (Roll Call 61). We have assigned pluses to the nays because the president is not a "king" or "dictator" who may make his own law. Under the U.S. Constitution, "all legislative powers herein granted" are delegated to Congress, and it is the responsibility of the president to faithfully execute the law.



On the Amendment S.Amdt. 48 to S.Amdt. 2 to S. 1 (Keystone XL Pipeline Act): To modify the definition of underground injection.
Vote Date: January 28, 2015Vote: NAYGood Vote.
Fracking.
During consideration of the Keystone XL pipeline bill (S. 1), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced an amendment to remove exemptions of fracking and natural gas storage from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) offered the amendment on Senator Gillibrand's behalf, noting: "This amendment amends the Safe Drinking Water Act to protect clean drinking water sources from hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, and from underground storage of natural gas. The Safe Drinking Water Act currently exempts underground injection of fracking fluids and underground storage of natural gas from regulation under the act. The Gillibrand amendment repeals those exemptions and makes underground injection of fracking fluids and underground storage of natural gas subject to those regulations."

The Senate rejected Gillibrand’s amendment on January 28, 2015 by a vote of 35 to 63 (Roll Call 41). We have assigned pluses to the nays because the federal government has no constitutional authority to regulate industry practices or set drinking water standards. These standards are monitored and enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency, which is itself an unconstitutional agency created by executive order. The Obama administration, particularly the EPA, is known to be an opponent of fracking, so this is likely a backdoor attack on the industry. State and local governments should be setting drinking water standards and monitoring for pollutants, not unaccountable bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.



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