WASHINGTON — Here’s how the state’s senators voted on major issues in the week ending May 16. The House was in recess.
Bipartisan energy efficiency
By a vote of 55 for and 36 against, the Senate on May 12 failed to reach 60 votes needed to end a Republican filibuster against a bill (S 2262) that would cut carbon emissions and promote energy efficiency in buildings throughout the U.S. economy without federal mandates or deficit spending. Republicans objected to the Democratic majority’s refusal to entertain amendments to build the Keystone XL Pipeline and protect emissions from coal-fired power plants against executive orders by President Obama. Democrats said they had already agreed to 10 bipartisan amendments on other topics, as well as a follow-up vote on a self-standing bill on whether to proceed with the pipeline.
Sponsored by GOP Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Democratic Sen. Jean Shaheen of New Hampshire, the energy bill would use model building codes, technological advances such as smart meters and more-efficient HVAC systems, policy incentives, educational campaigns and other steps to bring about voluntary compliance with its efficiency standards.
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Voting yes: Maria Cantwell, D; Patty Murray, D
Extension of tax breaks
Voting 96-3, the Senate on May 13 agreed to start debate on a bill (HR 3474) that would renew through 2015 several dozen special-interest tax breaks for businesses, individuals and other beneficiaries that expired at the end of 2013. Known as “extenders,” these targeted tax-relief measures are projected by the Congressional Budget Office to total $81.3 billion over 10 years while adding $84.1 billion to the national debt over that time. They consist, in part, of the research-and-development tax credit for businesses; deductions for college tuition; tax credits to encourage the hiring of veterans; bonus depreciation to spur equipment purchases by businesses; an exemption of forgiven mortgage debt from taxation; deductions for K-12 teachers’ out-of-pocket purchases of classroom supplies; production tax credits for renewable energy and deductions to spur construction of energy-efficient buildings.
Voting yes: Cantwell, Murray
Federal judge Diane Humetewa
By a vote of 96-0, the Senate on May 14 confirmed Diane J. Humetewa as a federal judge for the District of Arizona, making her the first Native American to serve on the federal bench. A member of the Hopi Tribe, she was U.S. attorney for the Arizona district in 2007-2009.
Voting yes: Cantwell, Murray