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WASHINGTON — Here’s how the state’s members of Congress voted on major issues in the week ending June 27.


Cross-border pipeline approvals

By a vote of 238 for and 173 against, the House on June 24 passed a bill (HR 3301) to weaken environmental reviews of cross-border pipeline projects between the U.S. and Canada or Mexico. Backers said the bill would not affect the pending application for U.S. approval of the Keystone XL pipeline carrying tar-sands crude from Canada through the U.S. But critics said it would allow any rejected Keystone application to be resubmitted under relaxed environmental standards. In part, the bill would limit reviews to areas at or near international borders, thus exempting long stretches of pipelines over aquifers and through U.S. interior terrain from National Environmental Policy Act standards.

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Voting yes: Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas; Doc Hastings, R-Pasco; Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane; Dave Reichert, R-Auburn

Voting no: Suzan DelBene, D-Medina; Rick Larsen, D-Lake Stevens; Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor; Jim McDermott, D-Seattle; Denny Heck, D-Olympia

Not voting: Adam Smith, D-Bellevue

Protection of aquifers

By a vote of 185 for and 227 against, the House on June 24 refused to bar approvals of oil pipelines under HR 3301 (above) that could rupture and spill toxic chemicals into the Great Lakes or the Ogallala aquifer beneath South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.

Voting yes: DelBene, Larsen, Kilmer, McDermott, Heck

Voting no: Herrera Beutler, Hastings, McMorris Rodgers, Reichert

Not voting: Smith

Financial regulation curbs

By a vote of 265 for and 144 against, the House on June 24 passed a bipartisan bill (HR 4413) that would renew the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) through fiscal 2018, curb its regulatory powers, add investor protections and increase the national debt by $948 million over five years. An independent agency, the CFTC oversees derivatives markets as well as futures trading in farm commodities, oil and natural gas. Under the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, the agency has begun the first federal regulation of the $700 trillion derivatives market, whose collapse in 2008 helped crash the U.S. and global economies and trigger taxpayer bailouts of financial firms. In part, this bill would subject new CFTC rules to time-consuming cost-benefit analyses and exempt derivatives trading by overseas subsidiaries of U.S. financial institutions from direct CFTC supervision.

Derivatives, or swaps, contracts are instruments for hedging other investments against risk. Lacking value of their own, derivatives are priced according to the value of some underlying index or asset, with each side to the contract betting that the value will either rise or fall by some specified date.

Voting yes: DelBene, Larsen, Herrera Beutler, Hastings, McMorris Rodgers, Reichert

Voting no: Kilmer, McDermott, Heck

Not voting: Smith

Natural-gas exports

By a vote of 266 for and 150 against, the House on June 25 passed a bill (HR 6) requiring prompt Department of Energy (DOE) action on applications from U.S. firms to export liquefied natural gas to countries in Europe and elsewhere with which the United States does not have a free-trade agreement. The bill requires the department to issue a final decision within 30 days after environmental reviews have been completed. Critics said this would truncate DOE’s reviews of whether applications are in the public interest in terms of assuring adequate and affordable domestic supplies of natural gas.

Voting yes: DelBene, Larsen, Herrera Beutler, Hastings, McMorris Rodgers, Reichert, Heck

Voting no: McDermott, Smith

Not voting: Kilmer

Limits on gas exports

By a vote of 192 for and 225 against, the House on June 25 defeated a Democratic bid to prohibit natural-gas exports under HR 6 (above) that raise household energy costs for U.S. seniors on fixed incomes or benefit countries that are state sponsors of terrorism or conductors of cyberattacks on America. The motion also required U.S.-flagged ships and containers to be used to transport American natural gas abroad.

Voting yes: DelBene, Larsen, McDermott, Smith, Heck

Voting no: Herrera Beutler, Hastings, McMorris Rodgers, Reichert

Not voting: Kilmer

Outer continental shelf drilling

By a vote of 229 for and 185 against, the House on June 26 passed a bill (HR 4899) authorizing oil and gas exploration in expanses of the outer continental shelf offshore from Southern California, Virginia and South Carolina where drilling is banned for primarily environmental reasons. The shelf usually begins three to nine nautical miles from the U.S. shoreline and reaches outward for at least 200 nautical miles. Now awaiting Senate action, this bill also would open Bureau of Land Management properties in the West to oil and gas drilling.

Voting yes: Herrera Beutler, Hastings, McMorris Rodgers, Reichert

Voting no: DelBene, McDermott, Smith, Heck

Not voting: Larsen, Kilmer


Streamlined job training

By a vote of 95 for and three against, the Senate on June 25 approved a House-passed bill (HR 803) to consolidate dozens of federal programs for job training, adult education and literacy education into a single, broad-based workforce program to be administered by the states. The bill is a five-year renewal of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) to be funded at $6 billion or more annually through block grants controlled by governors. The WIA historically has used targeted grants to fund the vocational needs of specific populations. Under this bill, groups such as dislocated workers in search of new skills, the disabled, returning veterans, the poor and migrant workers would compete against one another for available funds.

Voting yes: Maria Cantwell, D; Patty Murray, D

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