Contact: 202-224-4623
Website: https://www.kennedy.senate.gov/public

Name: John Kennedy


Senate: Louisiana, Republican


Cumulative Freedom Index Score: 60%


Status: Active Member of the Senate

Score Breakdown:
60% (115th Congress: 2017-2018)

Key Votes:



On the Motion to Table S.Amdt. 3021 to S.Amdt. 2911 to S.Amdt. 2910 to H.R. 5895: Waters of the United States
Vote Date: June 21, 2018Vote: NAYGood Vote.
During consideration of a minibus appropriations bill (H.R. 5895), Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced an amendment to repeal the EPA’s 2015 “Waters of the United States” rule, which allows federal bureaucrats to broadly interpret the meaning of “navigable waters” under the Clean Water Act. This rule, Lee opined on the Senate floor, “effectively dramatically expanded the jurisdiction of the Federal Government over land in the United States, in some instances saying that if a plot of land is wet some of the time, some of the year, during any particular year, you can be subject to massive fines totaling millions of dollars if you do anything on that land, subject to the arbitrary determinations of Federal bureaucrats.”

The Senate tabled (killed) Lee’s amendment on June 21, 2018 by a vote of 62 to 34 (Roll Call 138). We have assigned pluses to the nays because both federal water regulations and the EPA are unconstitutional, and if the rule were allowed to stand, 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 to Discharge H.R. 3: Appropriations Cuts
Vote Date: June 20, 2018Vote: AYEGood Vote.
This bill (H.R. 3) would cut nearly $15 billion from previously approved, unspent funding, including $7 billion from the Children’s Health Insurance Program and $4.3 billion from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program.

The Senate rejected a motion to discharge H.R. 3 from the Senate Budget Committee (so that it could be considered by the full Senate) on June 20, 2018 by a vote of 48 to 50 (Roll Call 134). We have assigned pluses to the yeas not only because the spending falls outside the scope of constitutionally authorized federal powers, but also because the federal government needs to start reining in ballooning federal spending (and debt) somewhere in order to avert fiscal disaster. The cuts in this bill comprise only a fraction of one percent of total federal spending, and according to the Congressional Budget Office, most of the unspent funding targeted by the bill would not be spent anyway. Yet modest cuts are better than none at all.



On the Motion to Table S.Amdt. 2366 to H.R. 5515 (National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019): Indefinite Detention
Vote Date: June 13, 2018Vote: NAYGood Vote.
During consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 5515), Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced the Due Process Guarantee Act amendment to uphold the right to due process for U.S. citizens and permanent residents on American soil. “This amendment … simply says that if you are a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident, you may not be indefinitely detained on U.S. soil without trial, without charge, without access to a jury or to counsel,” Lee said on the Senate floor. His amendment would negate language in the fiscal year 2012 NDAA that purportedly authorizes the U.S. military to indefinitely detain American citizens accused of being terrorists, without habeas corpus and without being tried and found guilty in a court of law.

The Senate rejected a motion to table (kill) Lee’s amendment on June 13, 2018 by a vote of 30 to 68 (Roll Call 122). We have assigned pluses to the nays because the war on terror must not be allowed to destroy constitutionally guaranteed legal protections.



On the Nomination PN1857: Haspel Nomination
Vote Date: May 17, 2018Vote: AYEBad Vote.
In March 2018, President Trump nominated Gina Haspel to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who opposed Haspel’s nomination, explained why in a Politico Magazine article: “Haspel ran a secret [CIA ‘black site’] center in Thailand where prisoners were tortured”; “Haspel participated in and helped develop the program that our own government has labeled torture”; and “she helped destroy the very evidence of this program.” Regarding the latter, Haspel ordered the destruction of videos documenting the torture.

The Senate confirmed Trump’s nomination of Haspel on May 17, 2018 by a vote of 54 to 45 (Roll Call 101). We have assigned pluses to the nays because of Haspel’s complicity in the use of torture, including waterboarding, a violation of U.S. law as well as the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishments.”



On the Joint Resolution S.J.Res. 52: Net Neutrality
Vote Date: May 16, 2018Vote: AYEBad Vote.
This bill (Senate Joint Resolution 52) would nullify and disapprove of the new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rule that seeks to deregulate the Internet. In 2015, as a result of fears that providers would “throttle” customers’ Internet connections and charge higher rates for certain times and/or services, the Obama-era FCC imposed common-carrier mandates on broadband Internet service providers, essentially regulating the Internet as a public utility. The Trump FCC under Chairman Ajit Pai overturned this rule, allowing the Internet to be more or less unregulated as it had been before the rule.

The Senate passed Senate Joint Resolution 52 on May 16, 2018 by a vote of 52 to 47 (Roll Call 97). We have assigned pluses to the nays because regulation of the Internet is not a proper function of the federal government under the Constitution. The new FCC rule under Commissioner Pai was more of a hands-off approach to the Internet, allowing service providers to set their own rules. This is the correct approach, as any provider “throttling” service or overcharging customers will lose business to more competitive providers in a free market setting. Government, in scenarios such as these, will nearly always cause more problems than it claims to attempt to solve. Case in point: Regulations are not always applied equally, as under the Obama FCC rule some sites were forced to “play fair,” while some of the big guys, such as Netflix and Google, could still set their own rules.



On the Motion (Motion to Concur in the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 1625): Omnibus Appropriations
Vote Date: March 23, 2018Vote: NAYGood Vote.
This bill (H.R. 1625) would provide $1.3 trillion in discretionary appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018 for federal government operations and services. This represents an overall increase in discretionary spending of 12 percent over the 2017 level. The big winner was the Department of Defense, with an increase of 10 percent over last year’s appropriations. (See House Vote 25 for more information.)

The Senate passed the omnibus spending bill on March 23, 2018 by a vote of 65 to 32 (Roll Call 63). 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 2018 into one gigantic “take it or leave it” bill.



On the Motion to Table S.J.Res. 54: U.S. Military Intervention in Yemen
Vote Date: March 20, 2018Vote: AYEBad Vote.
This resolution (Senate Joint Res. 54), according to the text, would “direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress.”

The Senate agreed to table (kill) a motion to discharge this resolution from the Foreign Relations Committee (so that it could be considered by the full Senate) on March 20, 2018 by vote of 55 to 44 (Roll Call 58). We have assigned pluses to the nays because only Congress is vested with the power to declare war. A foreign military intervention is an act of war, and Congress has not authorized any intervention or war in Yemen. Nor should Congress do so, since the civil war in Yemen does not threaten the United States.



On the Cloture Motion S.Amdt. 1955 to S.Amdt. 1958 to H.R. 2579 (Broader Options for Americans Act): Immigration (DACA)
Vote Date: February 15, 2018Vote: NAYGood Vote.
During consideration of the immigration bill (H.R. 2579), Senator Christopher Coons (D-Del.) introduced an amendment to provide “conditional permanent residence” (i.e., amnesty) to the unaccompanied minors who illegally entered the United States before turning 18 years old and have been recipients of President Obama’s unconstitutional Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

The Senate did not vote directly on Coons’ 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 February 15, 2018 by a vote of 52 to 47 (Roll Call 33; a three-fifths majority of the entire Senate is required to invoke cloture). We have assigned pluses to the nays because Obama’s executive action creating DACA was an unconstitutional usurpation of legislative power belonging to Congress, and because granting amnesty to illegal immigrants will, as has been the case with past amnesties, encourage even more border jumping.



On the Cloture Motion S.Amdt. 1948 to S.Amdt. 1959 to H.R. 2579 (Broader Options for Americans Act): Immigration (Sanctuary Cities)
Vote Date: February 15, 2018Vote: AYEGood Vote.
During consideration of the immigration bill (H.R. 2579), Senator Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) introduced an amendment to prohibit the disbursement of federal development grants to cities, states, or other political subdivisions that harbor or provide sanctuary for illegal immigrants.

The Senate did not vote directly on Toomey’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 February 15, 2018 by a vote of 54 to 45 (Roll Call 34; a three-fifths majority of the entire Senate is required to invoke cloture). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because the flood of illegal immigrants into the United States has risen to the level of an invasion swamping our Republic, and political entities that provide sanctuary to illegal aliens in contravention of federal immigration laws should not expect to do so while receiving federal aid.



On the Motion (Motion to Concur in the House Amendment to S. 139): Warrantless Surveillance
Vote Date: January 18, 2018Vote: AYEBad Vote.
This bill (S. 139) would reauthorize for six years, through 2023, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which governs electronic surveillance of foreign terrorism suspects. The bill would require the development of procedures for searching the NSA database that would protect the Fourth Amendment-guaranteed rights of U.S. citizens, while allowing the FBI to access information with an order from the secret FISA Court, in certain cases.

The Senate passed S. 139 on January 18, 2018 by a vote of 65 to 34 (Roll Call 12). We have assigned pluses to the nays because FISA, while supposedly put in place to gather intelligence on foreign targets, has been used to spy on U.S. citizens. While the bill does provide provisions to, ostensibly, protect the privacy of U.S. citizens, given the track record of intelligence agencies, it is unlikely that they would actually follow these rules. The FISA Court gives a green light to just about any surveillance request that comes its way, and FISA-approved NSA warrantless surveillance of American citizens has become common knowledge.



Senate Amendment to H.R. 1: Tax Cuts
Vote Date: December 20, 2017Vote: AYEGood Vote.
This bill, known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1), would slash the corporate income-tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, cut individual income-tax rates through 2025, and effectively eliminate the tax penalty on Americans who do not purchase health insurance by reducing the penalty amount to zero. The latter was a cornerstone of the 2010 ObamaCare legislation.

The Senate passed the final version of H.R. 1 on December 20, 2017 by a vote of 51 to 48 (Roll Call 323). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because the tax cuts in this bill will keep more money in the hands of American businesses and consumers, where it can be invested into the economy, thus spurring economic growth. Unfortunately, however, the bill does not address federal spending, which needs to be reined in via other legislation.



House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 2266: Disaster Relief
Vote Date: October 24, 2017Vote: AYEBad Vote.
This bill (H.R. 2266) would make available $36.5 billion in emergency supplemental funding for fiscal 2018 to partially cover the costs of responding to multiple natural disasters, including hurricanes and wildfires. It would include $18.7 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund and would cancel $16 billion of the Treasury debt incurred by FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program.

The Senate agreed to pass H.R. 2266 on October 24, 2017 by a vote of 82 to 17 (Roll Call 248). We have assigned pluses to the nays because federal involvement in natural disaster relief is not only unconstitutional, but also wasteful, inefficient, ineffective, and often harmful, as The New American has pointed out numerous times. Federal intervention into natural disaster recovery efforts typically makes matters worse for those who are afflicted by the disaster, as federal bureaucrats are often ill-informed of the needs of those affected and attempt to take control of relief efforts away from state and local organizations that better understand the situation. Disaster relief is much better handled by states, counties, and local communities, coupled with volunteer efforts from across the country. As it stands now, most disaster relief work is already done by private entities.



Amendment S.Amdt. 1298 to S.Amdt. 1116 to H.Con.Res. 71: Budget Cut
Vote Date: October 19, 2017Vote: NAYBad Vote.
During consideration of the budget resolution (House Concurrent Resolution 71), Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced an amendment to cut $43 billion in budget authority in fiscal 2018. Senator Paul remarked on October 17, 2017, “I want a big, big very bold tax cut. I’m for the bigger the better. And I will settle for less than I want. But I do want the biggest. And I will agitate to make sure that everybody across-the-board gets a tax cut… I can’t get a Republican to sign on, because they give lip service to smaller government, but they’re afraid of their shadow. And not a damn one of them really are for cutting spending.”

The Senate rejected Paul’s amendment on October 19, 2017 by a vote of 5 to 95 (Roll Call 236). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because federal spending, much of which is unconstitutional, is out of control and needs to be reined in. While a $43 billion budget cut is small in comparison to the trillion-dollar-plus budgets in recent years, it is a symbolic act that should be applauded.



On the Amendment S.Amdt. 1119 to S.Amdt. 1116 to H.Con.Res. 71: More Government Healthcare
Vote Date: October 18, 2017Vote: NAYGood Vote.
During consideration of the budget resolution (House Concurrent Resolution 71), Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced an amendment to authorize $20.6 billion in new spending for healthcare programs, including Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program, for fiscal 2018.

The Senate rejected Sanders’ amendment on October 18, 2017 by a vote of 47 to 51 (Roll Call 221). We have assigned pluses to the nays because the U.S. Constitution does not authorize the federal government to get involved in healthcare, and all government meddling causes more healthcare problems, such as rising healthcare costs.



On the Nomination PN89: Ajit Pai Nomination
Vote Date: October 2, 2017Vote: AYEGood Vote.
On March 7, 2017, President Donald Trump re-nominated Ajit Pai to serve another five-year term on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). One of President Trump’s first official acts was designating Commissioner Pai as the new FCC chairman to replace outgoing Obama-pick Tom Wheeler. As an outspoken opponent of “Net Neutrality,” Pai’s appointment as FCC chairman marked a major milestone toward ending government regulation of the Internet. On December 14, 2017, the FCC — with Pai at the helm — voted 3-2 to end Net Neutrality.

The Senate confirmed Ajit Pai on October 2, 2017 by a vote of 52 to 41 (Roll Call 209). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because the U.S. Constitution does not authorize the federal government to get involved in the Internet, which operates best without intrusive government regulation.



S.Amdt. 871 to S.Amdt. 1003 to H.R. 2810: War Authorization
Vote Date: September 13, 2017Vote: AYEBad Vote.
During consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 2810), Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) offered an amendment to repeal, six months after the bill’s enactment, the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). Enacted in the wake of 9/11, the AUMF authorized the president to use military force against the terrorists involved, including those who aided and harbored them, and was used as the legal authority for U.S. military entry into Afghanistan. Paul’s amendment would also have ended, six months after the bill’s enactment, the 2002 AUMF for the invasion of Iraq to disarm Saddam Hussein of his reputed weapons of mass destruction.

The Senate agreed to a motion to table (kill) Paul’s amendment on September 13, 2017 by a vote of 61 to 36 (Roll Call 195). We have assigned pluses to the nays because the 2001 AUMF in particular has been used by presidents ever since as a blank check not only for continued U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan, but for new military interventions elsewhere, including Libya, Syria, and Yemen — despite the fact that constitutionally authorized power to declare war belongs to Congress, not the president. “This is your constitutional role,” Paul said on the Senate floor prior to the vote on his amendment. “Let’s let these [AUMFs] expire, and over the next six months, let’s debate whether we should be at war and where.”



On Passage of the Bill H.R. 3364: Sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea
Vote Date: July 27, 2017Vote: AYEBad Vote.
This bill (H.R. 3364) would establish new sanctions, and codify certain existing sanctions, on Russia. The bill cites an intelligence community assessment saying that “Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the United States presidential election.” It also expresses the sense of Congress that President Trump call on Russia to withdraw from Ukraine, and it states that “it is the policy of the United States … to support the Government of Ukraine in restoring its sovereign and territorial integrity.” In addition to Russia, H.R. 3364 also establishes and expands sanctions on Iran and North Korea.

The Senate passed H.R. 3364 on July 27, 2017 by a vote of 98 to 2 (Roll Call 175). We have assigned pluses to the nays because imposing new sanctions 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.



Amendment S.Amdt. 271 to S.Amdt. 267 to H.R. 1628: Repeal of ObamaCare
Vote Date: July 26, 2017Vote: AYEGood Vote.
During consideration of the healthcare bill (H.R. 1628), Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced an amendment that would have expired the expansion of Medicaid and certain taxes created under ObamaCare, prohibited healthcare plans that provide abortion coverage from qualifying for certain tax credits, banned federal funding of abortion, and repealed the individual and employer mandates created under ObamaCare.

The Senate rejected Paul’s amendment on July 26, 2017 by a vote of 45 to 55 (Roll Call 169). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because government should not subsidize the killing of innocent human life, and also because Senator Paul’s amendment would have repealed extensive portions of the unconstitutional ObamaCare law.



On the Nomination PN370: John Kenneth Bush Nomination
Vote Date: July 20, 2017Vote: AYEGood Vote.
President Donald Trump nominated John Kenneth Bush to be a judge on the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. As chairman of the Louisville chapter of the Federalist Society, Bush is a strict constructionist. He has previously called for the repeal of ObamaCare, opposes public financing of campaign elections, opposes gay marriage, and is staunchly pro-life. On an online conservative blog, Bush equated abortion to slavery, describing them as the “two greatest tragedies in our country.”

The Senate confirmed Bush on July 20, 2017 by a vote of 51 to 47 (Roll Call 164). We have assigned pluses to the yeas because more judges are needed who will uphold the U.S. Constitution, as Bush intends.



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.



Amendment S.Amdt. 240 to S. 722: NATO
Vote Date: June 15, 2017Vote: AYEBad Vote.
During consideration of the Iranian and Russian sanctions bill (S. 722), Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced an amendment to “affirm that the United States remains fully committed to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and will honor its obligations enshrined in Article 5.” Under Article 5, the member nations of the NATO military alliance “agree that an armed attack against one or more of them ... shall be considered an attack against
them all.”

The Senate adopted Graham’s amendment on June 15, 2017 by a unanimous vote of 100 to 0 (Roll Call 146). That not a single senator voted nay is appalling, since that is the constitutionally sound position. The reason: Not only should the United States stay clear of entangling alliances such as NATO, but 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. Moreover, the number of nations that the United States has pledged to defend under NATO has grown from 11 to 28 over the years, as the alliance itself has grown from 12 member nations (including the United States) when NATO was created in 1949 to 29 today. Although NATO was ostensibly formed to counter the threat from the Soviet bloc of nations, some of the nations the United States is now pledged to defend under NATO were once part of that bloc, including Albania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic (as part of Czechoslovakia), Hungary, Poland, and Romania.



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: AYEGood 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.



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