Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Lamar Alexander Voted Poorly
Thanks to Matt Collins who did the heavy lifting to get this posted.
The minimum-wage bill (H.R. 2) would raise the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour over the course of two years. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) had repeatedly attempted to pass a minimum-wage increase in recent years, but the Republican-led Congress had always rejected his minimum-wage amendments. The minimum-wage increase represents one of the first major pushes of the newly elected Democratic Congress and was high up on the 100-hour legislative agenda pushed by House leaders at the beginning of the congressional year. In 1996, the federal minimum wage was increased by 90 cents to $5.15 an hour. Though many people believe that raising the federal minimum wage is a solution to national poverty, allowing the market to dictate wages allows entry-level workers to get the experience and job training they need to get higher paying jobs. The bill would also provide $8.3 billion in small-business tax incentives. The House passed its version of H.R. 2 on January 10.The Senate passed the minimum-wage increase by a vote of 94-3 (Roll Call 42) on February 1, 2007. It is unconstitutional to prohibit citizens from working for less than a government-set wage. Senator Alexander voted FOR this bill.
Embryonic Stem-cell Research.
The stem-cell research bill (S. 5), introduced by Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.), would overturn the 2001 ban on federally funding embryonic stem-cell research with federal dollars. Similar to the House version of the bill, S. 5 would fund the research, experimentation, and destruction of human embryos donated from in vitro fertilization clinics. The Senate passed Reid’s stem-cell research bill by a vote of 63-34 (Roll Call 127) on April 11, 2007. The bill violates the right to life for millions of unborn babies. Senator Alexander voted FOR this legislation.
Senator Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.) introduced an amendment to strike the guest-worker provision of Ted Kennedy’s substitute amendment (S. Amdt. #1150) for the immigration reform bill of 2007 (S. 1348). Kennedy’s so-called guest-worker provision would create a renewable two-year guest-worker program, issue a guest-worker visa, and set an adjustable annual cap on the number of guest workers permitted in this country. The Dorgan amendment was rejected by a vote of 31-64 (Roll Call 174) on May 22, 2007. The guest-worker program would constitute a large increase in legal immigration for our country, which would ultimately displace more American work-ers from their jobs and depress wages. Senator Alexander voted AGAINST the amendment.
H.R. 976 would reauthorize the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to the amount of $60.2 billion for five years. The proposed amount would expand the program by $35.2 billion and cover an addition 6.1 million children. The Senate passed H.R. 976 on August 2, 2007, by a vote of 68-31 (Roll Call 307). Taxpayer-financed federal health insurance is unconstitutional. After successful passage of H.R. 976 in both the House and Senate, President Bush vetoed the measure on October 3, 2007. Senator Alexander voted FOR this bill.
UN “Peacekeeping” Increase.
During consideration of the foreign-aid appropriations bill (H.R. 2764), Senator John Ensign (R-Nev.) introduced an amendment to strike a provision in H.R. 2764 that would increase the limit on the U.S. share of UN “peacekeeping” operations from 25 percent to 27.1 percent. The Senate rejected the Ensign amendment to H.R. 2764 on September 6, 2007, by a vote of 30-63 (Roll Call 317). The United States should not be funding UN “peacekeeping” period — let alone increasing the amount. Senator Alexander voted AGAINST this amendment.
The fiscal 2008 foreign-aid appropriations bill (H.R. 2764) would authorize $34.4 billion for foreign-aid operations and economic assistance programs. In part, the bill would appropriate $9.1 billion for the U.S. Agency for International Development, $5.1 billion to combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases, and $1.2 billion for the Millennium Challenge Account. The Senate passed H.R. 2764 on September 6, 2007, by a vote of 81-12 (Roll Call 325). Foreign aid is unconstitutional. Senator Alexander voted FOR this bill.
This massive appropriations bill (H.R. 3043) would appropriate $605.5 billion in fiscal 2008 for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. This spending bill represents the largest domestic spending bill the Senate has passed in the 110th Congress. H.R. 3043 would provide monies for the Education Department ($63 billion), the Labor Department ($14.9 billion), the Department of Health and Human Services ($479.1 billion), and related agencies. The Senate passed H.R. 3043 on October 23, 2007, by a vote of 75-19 (Roll Call 391). Social-welfare programs and federal involvement in education are unconstitutional. Senator Alexander voted FOR this bill.
This bill (S. 294) would authorize $11.4 billion for Amtrak funding over the next six years. That amount would include monies for operating subsidies ($3.3 billion) and capital grants ($4.9 billion). If passed, states would be required to provide a 20-percent match of funds. Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) opposed the reauthorization of federal funds to Amtrak. According to DeMint, Amtrak routes are so unprofitable that each ticket is federally subsidized by hundreds of dollars. Amtrak was created in 1970 and has been operating under annual federal appropriation funds since 2002. Senator Alexander voted FOR this bill.
Children’s Health Insurance.
H.R. 3963, the five-year, $60 billion SCHIP Extension bill, passed 64-30 on November 1, 2007 (Roll Call 403) and then went to the president, who vetoed it. This legislation occurred after the presidential veto. The bill would have authorized the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) at nearly $60 billion over five years, expanding the program by $35 billion. It also would have put an additional tax on cigarette manufacturers, would have undermined private insurance plans, and would have pushed us further down the slippery slope to socialized medicine. The Constitution does not authorize federal involvement in healthcare, even for children. Senator Alexander voted FOR this bill.
H.R. 1429, a bill to reauthorize the Head Start program through 2012, was adopted 95-0 on November 14, 2007 (Roll Call 409). Head Start provides educational activities and social services for children up to age five from low-income families. The program received $6.9 billion in fiscal year 2007. $7 billion was authorized in the fiscal 2008 omnibus bill, but H.R. 1429 increased funding to $7.4 billion for fiscal 2008, $7.7 billion for 2009, and $8 billion for 2010. The income level at which families are eligible to participate was raised from 100 percent of the poverty level to 130 percent ($26,728 for a family of four). Some opposed the bill because Head Start grants will not be allowed to faith-based organizations that hire employees on the basis of religious preference. Having been adopted in both the House and the Senate, this legislation was cleared for President Bush, who signed it into law. A federalized educational system is an unconstitutional and wasteful bureaucracy. Senator Alexander voted FOR this bill.
Peru Free Trade Agreement.
The Peru Free Trade Agreement (H.R. 3688) is another in a series of free-trade agreements to transfer the power to regulate trade (and other powers as well) to regional arrangements. A prime example is the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). However, as noted by the House Ways and Means Committee report on H.R. 3688, the Peru Free Trade Agreement is the first U.S. FTA to include “in its core text fully enforceable commitments by the Parties to adopt, maintain, and enforce basic international labor standards, as stated in the 1988 ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.” The ILO, or International Labor Organization, is a UN agency. The Senate passed the Peru Free Trade Agreement on December 4, 2007 by a vote of 77-18 (Roll Call 413). "So-called" free-trade arrangements threaten our national independence and harm our economy. Senator Alexander voted FOR this bill.
H.R. 5140, the Economic Stimulus package, whereby rebate checks were mailed to tax-payers, passed 81-16 on February 7, 2008 (Roll Call 10). It would provide about $150 billion in economic stimulus, including $101.1 billion in direct payments of rebate checks (typically $600) to most tax-payers in 2008 and temporary tax breaks for businesses. After the House resolved its differences with the Senate, the bill was cleared for President Bush, who signed it into law. Creating money out of thin air (which was what was done for the rebate checks) cannot improve the economy. Senator Alexander voted FOR this bill.
S. 2248, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, passed 68-29 on February 12, 2008 (Roll Call 20). The bill would amend the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to effectively give the executive branch of the federal government a blank check to eavesdrop on telephone calls and e-mail messages between people in foreign countries and those in the United States. The bill includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies that have collaborated with federal agencies in the warrantless surveillance of American citizens. Warrantless wiretaps are a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects Americans against unreasonable searches and seizures, and requires that any searches be conducted only upon issuance of a warrant under conditions of probable cause. Moreover, Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution forbids “ex post facto laws” — laws having a retroactive effect. Senator Alexander voted FOR this bill.
H.R. 3221, the Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008, passed 84-12 on April 10, 2008 (Roll Call 96). It was originally introduced in the House as an energy bill under another title and was passed as such in 2007. The Senate substituted a very different text, turning the bill into a vehicle for foreclosure prevention and returned it to the House for approval as three Senate amendments. Among the overall bill’s many aspects, it reforms the Federal Housing Administration, providing it liquidity and changing its insurance program to help homeowners facing foreclosure to refinance; it includes a net operating loss proposal that Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) described as a multi-billion dollar bailout of the homebuilders industry; it appropriates funding to states to redevelop foreclosed properties; and it would provide renewable-energy tax breaks. It is unconstitutional for the federal government to be an insurer, and wealth redistributor. Senator Alexander voted FOR this legislation.
The version of the five-year, $289 billion farm bill considered here (the conference report on H.R. 2419) would authorize the nation’s farm programs for the next five years, including crop subsidies and nutrition programs. The final version of this legislation worked out by House and Senate conferees (known as a conference report) provides $289 billion for these programs, including a $10.4 billion boost in spending for nutrition programs such as food stamps. The Senate passed the final version of H.R. 2419 by a vote of 81-15 (Roll Call 130) on May 15, 2008. Federal aid to farmers and federal food aid to individuals are not authorized by the Constitution. Senator Alexander voted FOR this bill.
Farm Bill (Veto Override).
H.R. 6124, the legislation to authorize farm and nutrition programs for another five years, including crop subsidies and nutrition programs. The final version of the legislation provides $289 billion for these programs, including a $10.4 billion boost in spending for nutrition programs such as food stamps. After this five-year, $289 billion farm bill was vetoed by President Bush, the Senate passed the bill over the president’s veto on June 18, 2008 by a vote of 80-14 (Roll Call 151). A two-thirds majority vote is required to override a presidential veto. Federal aid to farmers and federal food aid to individuals are not authorized by the Constitution. Senator Alexander voted FOR this veto override.
Funds for War, Welfare, Etc.
The Supplemental Appropriations bill (H.R. 2642) was agreed to 92-2 (Roll Call 162) on June 26, 2008. Such bills fund unforeseen needs after an annual budget has been approved. However, regular use of emergency supplemental bills to pay for never-ending wars, domestic welfare, and infrastructure programs has made the annual budget a misleading indicator of spending intentions. This $186.5 billion measure includes $161.8 billion of additional funding for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The remaining $24.7 billion is for domestic programs including tornado, flood, and hurricane relief efforts. It would also expand veterans’ education benefits, expand unemployment benefits, and delay shifting some Medicaid costs to the states. Congress continues to fund a war it never authorized under Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution. Also, the federal government is unconstitutionally involved as an individual and corporate insurer at taxpayer expense. Senator Alexander voted FOR this bill.
This bill would revamp the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and allow warrantless electronic surveillance, including monitoring telephone conversations and e-mails, of foreign targets, including those communicating with American citizens in the United States. The final version of the bill would not explicitly grant immunity to telecommunications companies that have assisted President Bush’s warrantless surveillance program. But it would require courts to dismiss lawsuits against such companies if there is “substantial evidence” they were insured in writing the program was legal
and authorized by the president. The provision would almost certainly result in the dismissal of the lawsuits. The Senate passed H.R. 6304 on July 9, 2008 by a vote of 69-28 (Roll Call 168). Warrantless searches are a violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects Americans against unreasonable searches and seizures, and requires that any searches be conducted only upon issuance of a warrant under conditions of probable cause. Moreover, Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution forbids “ex post facto laws” — laws having a retroactive effect. Senator Alexander voted FOR this bill.
Global HIV/AIDS Program.
This legislation (H.R. 5501) would authorize $48 billion for fiscal 2009 through 2013 to combat AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis overseas. Currently one-third of the funding for HIV prevention is required to go to abstinence education. The bill would change that allocation to balance funding between condom, fidelity, and abstinence programs. It would also authorize $2 billion to fund programs for American Indian health, clean water, and law enforcement. The Senate passed H.R. 5501 on July 16, 2008 by a vote of 80-16 (Roll Call 182). Foreign aid is unconstitutional. Senator Alexander voted FOR this bill.
This legislation (H.R. 3221) to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and to allow the FHA to insure up to $300 billion worth of new, refinanced loans would grant authority to the Treasury Department to extend new credit and buy stock in the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac). As described by Congressional Quarterly, “It also would create an independent regulator for the two mortgage giants and the Federal Home
Loan Bank System. It would overhaul the Federal Housing Administration and allow it to insure up to $300 billion worth of new, refinanced loans for struggling mortgage borrowers. It also includes a $7,500 tax credit to some first-time homebuyers, higher loan limits for FHA-backed loans, a standard tax deduction for property taxes and revenue-raisers to offset part of the costs. It also would authorize $3.92 billion in grants to states and localities to purchase and rehabilitate foreclosed properties, and increase the federal debt limit to $10.6 trillion.” The Senate passed H.R. 3221 on July 26, 2008 by a vote of 72-13 (Roll Call 186). The federal government acting as an insurer, a micromanager of markets, and a wealth redistributor is unconstitutional and will undoubtedly affect market behavior, leading to more and worse market strife. Senator Alexander voted FOR this bill.
The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (H.R. 1424) passed 74-25 (Roll Call 213) on October 1, 2008. This bill authorizes the Treasury Department to use $700 billion of taxpayer money to purchase troubled mortgage-related securities from banks and other financial-related institutions, on terms set by the Treasury Secretary, who now has authority to manage and sell those assets. The bailout plan also expands FDIC protection from $100,000 to $250,000 per bank account, extends dozens of expiring tax provisions, expands incentives for renewable energy, provides a one-year adjustment to exempt millions of Americans from the alternative minimum tax, and requires health insurers who provide mental-health coverage to put mental-health benefits on par with other medical benefits. The bill establishes an unconstitutional merger of government with big business — in other words, fascism — and greatly increases the national debt and monetary inflation by forcing taxpayers to pay the price for the failures of private financial institutions. Senator Alexander voted FOR this bill.
Senate Joint Resolution 5 would have prevented the release of the remaining $350 billion of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to bail out banks and other institutions. The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 had uthorized a total of $700 billion, only half of which was initially released, for TARP. The act was written so that the Treasury Department, which administers the program, could start spending the second $350 billion unless both chambers of Congress disapproved.The Senate rejected this resolution on January 15, 2009, by a vote of 42-52 (Roll Call 5). The Constitution does not authorize Congress to grant financial aid or loans to private companies, i.e., banks and automakers. Senator Alexander voted FOR this.
H.R. 2 would reauthorize the “State Children’s Health Insurance Program,” commonly referred to as SCHIP, for over four and a half years and increase the funding for the program by $32.8 billion. SCHIP is designed to provide health insurance to children of families whose incomes are up to four times above the poverty level (and therefore would have too much income to qualify for Medicaid), yet would have little income to buy private insurance. Often SCHIP crowds out private insurance: the Congressional Budget Office found that between 25 and 50 percent of children who enroll in SCHIP dropped their private insurance to get “free care.” Because SCHIP, like Medicaid and Medicare, pays doctors and hospitals only a fraction of the actual cost of care, the unfunded costs get passed to holders of private insurance. Additionally, SCHIP would apply to 400,000 to 600,000 children of legal immigrants whose sponsors had agreed to cover the children’s healthcare needs for at least five years after arriving to the United States. Federal healthcare programs are unconstitutional and would likely lower the quality of healthcare. The Senate passed H.R. 2 on January 29, 2009, by a vote of 66-32 (Roll Call 31). Senator Alexander voted FOR this.
The Serve America Act (H.R. 1388), which would expand the number of “voluntary” positions in national service programs such as AmeriCorps from 75,000 to 250,000. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the House version of this legislation would cost $6 billion and the Senate version would cost $5 billion over five years. The Senate passed H.R. 1388 on March 26, 2009, by a vote of 79-19 (Roll Call 115). National service programs are not authorized by the Constitution. Senator Alexander voted FOR this.
During consideration of the Fiscal 2009 Supplemental bill (H.R. 2346), Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) offered an amendment to delete $5 billion provided by the bill for the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF is an adjunct of the United Nations and grants foreign aid to qualifying countries. The Senate rejected the DeMint amendment on May 21, 2009, by a vote of 30-64 (Roll Call 201). Foreign aid is unconstitutional, and this is deficit spending. Senator Alexander voted AGAINST the amendment to delete $5 billion to the IMF.
Fiscal 2009 Supplemental Appropriations.
The Senate version of the Fiscal 2009 Supplemental Appropriations bill (H.R. 2346) would provide an additional $91.3 billion in “emergency” funding for the current fiscal year over and above the regular appropriations. The spending would include $73 billion for the Defense Department (including the ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan), $1.5 billion to address potential pandemic flu, and $5 billion for the International Monetary Fund, a UN agency that lends to qualifying countries. The Senate passed H.R. 2346 on May 21, 2009, by a vote of 86-3 (Roll Call 202). The spending is over and above what the federal government had already budgeted, Congress never declared war against Iraq and Afghanistan, and some of the spending (e.g., foreign aid) is unconstitutional. Senator Alexander voted FOR this.
The final version (conference report) of the fiscal 2009 supplemental appropriations bill (H.R. 2346), which would provide $105.9 in “emergency” funding over and above the regular appropriations for 2009. This outrageous supplemental package would include $79.9 billion for defense funding (including for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan), $10.4 billion for foreign aid programs, $7.7 billion to address the national flu scare, and $5 billion for International Monetary Fund activities. This supplemental bill would also include $1 billion for the Cash for Clunkers program. The Senate adopted the conference report (thus sending it to the President) on June 18, 2009 by a vote of 91-5 (Roll Call 210). The spending is over and above what the federal government had already budgeted, the United States never declared war against Iraq and Afghanistan, and some of the spending (e.g., Cash for Clunkers and foreign aid) is unconstitutional. Senator Alexander voted FOR this.
Judge Sonia Sotomayor revealed her view on our God-given right to keep and bear arms while on the Second Circuit Court in the case of United States v. Sanchez-Villar (2004). In a footnote to their decision on this case, Sotomayor and two colleagues dismissed a Second Amendment claim by holding that “the right to possess a gun is clearly not a fundamental right.” Her widely quoted remarks that the “court of appeals is where policy is made” and “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life” provide further evidence that Sotomayor does not base her judicial decisions on the original intent of the Constitution. The Senate confirmed Sonia Sotomayor to be an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court on August 6, 2009 by a vote of 68-31 (Roll Call 262). Judge Sotomayor is not committed to adhering to the original intent of the Constitution in her judicial decisions. Senator Alexander voted FOR this.
Cash for Clunkers Funding.
H.R. 3435 would authorize an additional $2 billion for the “Cash for Clunkers” vehicle trade-in program. Under the “Cash for Clunkers” program, consumers would trade in their old cars for more fuel efficient vehicles. After running out of funds almost immediately, Congress quickly introduced yet another bill (H.R. 3435) that would provide an additional $2 billion for the “Cash for Clunkers” program. Under the program consumers were offered rebates of up to $4,500 if they traded in their old cars for more fuel-efficient ones. The vehicles traded in were destroyed, meaning cars not ready for the junkyard would be taken off the road, reducing the stock of used vehicles and inflating the prices of used cars. The Senate passed H.R. 3435 on August 6, 2009 by a vote of 60-37 (Roll Call 270). The federal government should not be subsidizing the car industry and it is unconstitutional and wasteful. Senator Alexander voted FOR this.
The Senate version of H.R. 3288 is similar to the House passed version. The fiscal 2010 Transportation-HUD appropriations (H.R. 3288) would authorize a whopping $123.1 billion for the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. This includes $68.8 billion for discretionary spending for the two departments and their related agencies, a 25-percent increase from fiscal 2009 levels. The bill would provide $1.5 billion in federal grants for Amtrak and $18.2 billion for the Section 8 Tenant-based Rental Assistance program. The Senate version would authorize $122 billion, including $67.7 billion in discretionary spending, for the Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development and related agencies. The Senate passed H.R. 3288 on September 17, 2009 by a vote of 73-25 (Roll Call 287). Virtually every dollar assigned to this bill, whether it is for transportation or housing assistance, is unconstitutional and unaffordable. Senator Alexander voted FOR this.
The final version (conference report) of this fiscal 2010 spending bill (H.R. 2997) to appropriate $121.2 billion for the Agriculture Department and related agencies. This social-welfare bill would include $21 billion for the Agriculture Department, $2.4 billion for the Food and Drug Administration, $58.3 billion to fund the food stamp program, $17 billion for the child nutrition program, $7.3 billion for the Women, Infants, and Children program, and $1.7 billion for the Food for Peace program. Excluding emergency spending, H.R. 2997 would represent a $2.7 billion increase from the 2009 appropriations level. More than 80 percent of the funds for H.R. 2997 would be reserved for mandatory programs such as food stamps and crop support. The Senate adopted the conference report (thus sending it to the President) on October 8, 2009 by a vote of 76-22 (Roll Call 318). Federal aid to farmers and federal food aid to individuals are not authorized by the Constitution. Senator Alexander voted FOR this.
The final version (conference report) of this 2010 spending bill (H.R. 3183) to appropriate $34 billion for energy and water projects. The funds would provide $27.1 billion for the Energy Department, $5.4 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers, and $1.1 billion for the Interior Department’s Bureau of Reclamation. The Senate adopted the conference report (thus sending it to the President) on October 15, 2009 by a vote of 80-17 (Roll Call 322). The Department of Energy is not authorized by the Constitution. Senator Alexander voted FOR this.
The final version (conference report) of the $32.3 billion Interior-Environment appropriations bill for fiscal 2010 (H.R. 2996). The bill would provide $11 billion for the Interior Department, $10.3 billion for the EPA, $3.5 billion for the Forest Service, and $4.1 billion for the Indian Health Service. Additionally, H.R. 2996 would authorize $168 million each for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and provide $761 million to the Smithsonian Institution. The spending in H.R. 2996 is about $4.7 billion, or roughly 17 percent, more than what was received in fiscal 2009 for the same programs. Representative Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) argued that the increased spending is “irresponsible, especially in light of the fact Congress must soon consider legislation to increase our national debt limit ”The Senate adopted the conference report (thus sending it to the President) on October 29, 2009 by a vote of 72-28 (Roll Call 331). The majority of funding in the bill is unconstitutional and wasteful. Senator Alexander voted FOR this.
Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations.
This legislation (H.R. 2847) would appropriate $65.1 billion in fiscal 2010 for the Commerce and Justice Departments, and agencies including NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Census Bureau. Congressional Quarterly reported that the bill’s $64.9 billion in discretionary funding is “nearly 13 percent more than was appropriated for such programs in fiscal 2009.” The Senate passed H.R. 2847 on November 5, 2009 by a vote of 71-28 (Roll Call 340). Spending needs to be cut, not increased. Alexander voted FOR this.
On January 28, 2010, the Senate voted 70 to 30 to confirm Ben Bernanke to a second four-year term as Federal Reserve Chairman (Roll Call 16). With Bernanke at the helm, the Fed, which can create money out of thin air, has pumped trillions of newly created fiat (unbacked) dollars into the economy, even though this reckless expansion of the money supply (inflation) will diminish the value of the dollar and further hurt the economy in the long run. Bernanke’s Fed has also kept interest rates artificially low, encouraging excessive borrowing and mal-investments. And Bernanke has called for the Fed — which already possesses the power to create booms and busts through its control of the money supply and interest rates — to be given new powers to manage the financial sector. The economic havoc Bernanke is accountable for at the Fed which is a central bank that should not even exist. Alexander voted FOR this.
Audit the Fed.
During consideration of the financial regulatory reform bill (S. 3217), Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) offered an amendment to audit the Federal Reserve. The Senate rejected the Vitter amendment on May 11, 2010by a vote of 37-62 (Roll Call 138), after unanimously adopting a watered-down audit-the-Fed amendment offered by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Sanders had much earlier introduced legislation in the Senate that mirrored the audit-the-Fed legislation in the House championed by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). When Sanders caved and offered his watered-down amendment, Vitter stepped in and offered an amendment for a full Fed audit along the lines of Paul’s (and Sanders’ earlier) proposal. The Sanders amendment allows for a onetime audit of the Fed’s emergency actions taken in response to the 2008 financial crisis. However, unlike the Vitter amendment, the Sanders amendment (in Paul’s words) “exempts monetary policy decisions, discount window operations, and agreements with foreign central banks from [GAO] audit. ”The vote on the Vitter amendment is used here to rate Senators on their position on auditing the Fed. The American people need to know what the Fed is doing and because this may represent a first step in eliminating the unconstitutional Federal Reserve. Alexander voted AGAINST this.
This legislation (H.R. 4899) to appropriate an additional $58.8 billion in “emergency” supplemental spending, most of it for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Senate passed the bill on May 27, 2010 by a vote of 67-28 (Roll Call 176). The spending is over and above what the federal government already budgeted for the current fiscal year, Congress never declared war against Iraq and Afghanistan, and some of the spending (e.g., foreign aid) is unconstitutional. Senator Alexander voted FOR this.
Subsidized Airline Service.
During consideration of the FAA reauthorization bill (S. 223), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) offered an amendment to end the Essential Air Service program, which provides subsidies to airlines to maintain otherwise unprofitable commercial airline service to certain small communities. The Senate tabled (killed) the McCain amendment on February 17, 2011 by a vote of 61 to 38 (Roll Call 21). The federal government has no constitutional authority to subsidize private airlines, and the free market should be allowed to determine which communities commercial airlines service, as well as the cost and extent of that service. Senator Alexander voted AGAINST this amendment.
Authority for Military Action.
During consideration of a small-business bill (S. 493), Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) moved to send the bill to the Foreign Relations Committee with instructions to insert his amendment expressing the sense of the Senate that “the President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” Paul’s amendment was in response to President Obama undertaking U.S. military action in Libya without congressional authorization. The Senate tabled (killed) Rand Paul’s motion on April 5, 2011 by a vote of 90 to 10 (Roll Call 50). The U.S. Constitution assigns to Congress the power “to declare war.” Senator Alexander voted FOR tabling (killing) this motion.
Patriot Act (Firearms Purchase Records).
During consideration of the Patriot Act extension bill (S. 990), Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who opposes the Patriot Act on Constitutional grounds, offered an amendment that would have banned the use of Patriot Act searches for American citizens’ firearms records without the Fourth Amendment’s protections of probable cause, warrants, and particularity. Gun Owners of America, which supported this amendment, warned: “Without Paul’s exemption, it is possible that the BATFE could go to a secret (FISA) court, and, in a one party (ex parte) proceeding, obtain an order to produce every 4473 [firearms transaction record] in the country, ostensibly because a ‘terrorism investigation’ requires it. If such an action were taken, the government would have a list of every gun buyer in the country going back decades.” The Senate tabled (killed) Rand Paul’s amendment on May 26, 2011 by a vote of 85 to 10 (Roll Call 82). Paul’s amendment would have prevented the Patriot Act from being used to violate the rights of gun owners. Senator Alexander voted FOR tabling (killing) this amendment.
Patriot Act Extension.
This legislation (S. 990) extended for four years three Patriot Act provisions that were set to expire — the “roving wiretap,” “financial records,” and “lone wolf” provisions that allows the federal government to wiretap any number of a suspect’s telephone/Internet connections without specifying what they will find or how many connections will be tapped; the “financial records” provision that allows the feds to seize “any tangible thing” that has “relevance” to an investigation; and the “lone wolf” provision that allows spying on non-U.S. citizens without a warrant. These provisions violate the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which requires that no warrants be issued “but upon probable cause” (a much higher
standard than “relevance”), and that warrants must contain language “particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” The Patriot Act even allows the FBI to issue warrants called “National Security Letters” without going to a judge, though this provision was not set to expire and therefore was not part of this legislation. The Senate passed S. 990 on May 26, 2011 by a vote of 72 to 23 (Roll Call 84). The extended provisions, and the Patriot Act as a whole, violate the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Senator Alexander voted FOR this bill.
This legislation (S. 365) increased the debt limit while creating a process for cutting future deficit projections. It provided for an immediate $400 billion increase in the national debt limit, while allowing the President to raise the ceiling an additional $500 billion unless Congress passes a resolution of disapproval. This legislation also established a process for reducing future cumulative deficit projections by up to $2.4 trillion for fiscal years 2012 through 2021, including the establishment of a supercommittee tasked with recommending cuts totaling up to $1.5 trillion for the 10-year period. If the supercommittee were to fail in recommending at least $1.2 trillion in cuts (and, as we know, the supercommittee failed to recommend any cuts), then the legislation would trigger automatic cuts totaling up to $1.2 trillion over 10 years. The debt-raising/deficit-cutting package created the appearance that Congress was doing something to rein in out-of-control spending. But in reality, the total national debt would still increase even if the entire dollar amount of cuts called for in the legislation were identified and enacted, since the cuts are not cuts in the absolute sense but cuts in future budget projections. The national debt would continue to go up, but not as fast as before, for the simple reason that cutting (say) $1.2 trillion over 10 years will not offset projected annual $1 trillion-plus deficits. The Senate agreed to the House-passed version of the bill on August 2, 2011 by a vote of 74 to 26 (Roll Call 123). The debt deal allows both the national debt and spending to continue their upward trajectories. Senator Alexander voted FOR this legislation.
Trade Promotion Authority.
During consideration of the trade-preferences bill, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) introduced an amendment to reinstitute trade promotion authority through 2013 for the purpose of expediting approval of trade bills. The authority, which was called “fast track” when initially instituted, had expired in 2007. The fast-track procedure requires that Congress must not amend or filibuster trade agreements submitted to them by the President, and must either approve or disapprove of the agreements within 90 days of submission. Renewing trade promotion authority is considered crucial for picking up the pace for approving future free-trade agreements such as the South Korea trade agreement. The Senate rejected McConnell’s amendment on September 20, 2011 by a vote of 45 to 55 (Roll Call 141). Trade promotion authority limits the ability of Congress to deliberate and legislate. Moreover, treaties should need a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate for approval. Senator Alexander voted FOR this legislation.
Senate Joint Resolution 27 would nullify the EPA’s cross-state pollution rules targeting sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide power plant emissions. The House had already passed related legislation that would delay implementation of the EPA rules but not actually eliminate them. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) moved to proceed to the resolution, but the Senate rejected his motion November 10 by a vote of 41 to 56 — thereby thwarting the attempt to stop the EPA cross-state pollution rules (Roll Call 201). These rules will further damage the economy and also because the federal government has no constitutional authority to regulate power plant emissions. Senator Alexander voted AGAINST this motion.
This so-called “minibus” bill (H.R. 2112) — which combined into a single package three of the regular appropriations bills for fiscal 2012. Just the “discretionary” spending in the minibus for the three-bill package totaled $128.1 billion. In addition, there is the spending that the government deems “mandatory.” In the case of the Agriculture bill that was incorporated into the minibus, for instance, the appropriations include $116.8 billion in mandatory spending in addition to $19.8 billion in discretionary spending. The so-called mandatory spending in the Agriculture bill includes nearly $99 billion for food and nutrition programs. The Senate passed the final version (conference report) of this legislation on November 17, 2011 by a vote of 70 to 30 (Roll Call 208). Congress has no constitutional authority to fund many of the programs in the bill, including the farm programs, food programs, and housing (under HUD). Senator Alexander voted FOR this legislation.
Detainee-related language in the Defense authorization bill (S. 1867) was written in such a sweeping way that even the United States can be considered part of the battlefield in the global war against terror — and even American citizens accused of being terrorists can be apprehended by the U.S. military and detained indefinitely without habeas corpus and without even being tried and found guilty in a court of law. Several attempts were made to revise the language, including an amendment offered by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to prohibit U.S. citizens from being held indefinitely without being charged or given a trial. The Senate rejected this amendment on December 1 by a vote of 45 to 55 (Roll Call 214). The War on Terror must not be allowed to destroy legal protections stretching back to the Magna Carta. Senator Alexander voted AGAINST this amendment.
This catch-all legislative package (H.R. 2055), which would provide $915 billion in discretionary appropriations for fiscal 2012, is comprised of nine appropriations bills for fiscal 2012 that Congress failed to complete separately — Defense ($518.8 billion), Energy-Water ($32.1 billion), Financial Services ($21.5 billion), Homeland Security ($41.3 billion), Interior-Environment ($29.2 billion), Labor-HHS-Education ($156.3 billion), Legislative Branch ($4.3 billion), State-Foreign Operations ($33.5 billion), and Military Construction-VA ($73.7 billion). The Senate adopted the final version of this legislation (known as a conference report) on December 17, 2011 by a vote of 67 to 32 (Roll Call 235). Many of the bill’s spending programs — e.g., education, housing, foreign aid, etc. — are unconstitutional, and the country is running trillion-dollar annual deficits. Senator Alexander voted FOR this bill.
This legislation (H.R. 2072) reauthorized the U.S. Export-Import Bank for two years and increased the agency’s lending cap from $100 billion to $140 billion. The bank issues loans and loan guarantees to foreign governments or companies for the purchase of U.S. products. The Senate passed H.R. 2072 on May 15, 2012 by a vote of 78 to 20 (Roll Call 96). The federal government has no constitutional authority risking taxpayers’ money to provide loans the private sector considers too risky to provide. Senator Alexander voted FOR this bill.
FDA Regulation of Food & Di-etary Supplements.
During consideration of the FDA user-fee authorization bill (S. 3187), Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) offered an amendment to prohibit FDA from regulating food or dietary supplements as drugs and censoring product health claims. Paul’s amendment would also “prohibit employees of the Food and Drug Administration from carrying firearms and making arrests without warrants.” The Senate tabled (killed) Paul’s amendment on May 24, 2012 by a vote of 78 to 15 (Roll Call 107). The FDA censorship of health claims is a violation of the right to free speech protected by the First Amendment, and the federal government is using armed agents to enforce unconstitutional regulations — e.g., against the selling of raw milk. Senator Alexander voted FOR killing this amendment.
After the Environmental Protection Agency established the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards that cap toxin emissions from coal-fired power plants, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) sponsored a joint resolution (S. J. Res. 37) to nullify the regulations. Sen. Inhofe said the “EPA’s Utility MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) is designed to destroy jobs by killing off the coal industry. EPA admits itself that the Utility MACT rule would cost an unprecedented $11 billion to implement. Of course these costs will come in the form of higher electricity rates for every American.... The Utility MACT would destroy over 1 million jobs and cost the American economy billions of dollars.” A motion to proceed to consideration of the measure was defeated on June 20, 2012 by a vote of 46 to 53 (Roll Call 139). The EPA is an unconstitutional agency created by executive order, and while the Commerce Clause allows Congress to regulate trade between states, federal agencies do not have constitutional authority to impose environmental regulations on industry. Moreover, the regulations will lead to the premature closure of many power plants, leading to more expensive, less reliable electricity for consumers. Senator voted AGAINST this resolution.
Forest Legacy Program.
During consideration of the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 (S. 3240), Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) offered an amendment to repeal the Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program. Regarding the need for his amendment, Sen. Lee stated: “The Federal Government owns about two-thirds of the land in my own State. It owns nearly 30 percent of the land mass within the territorial boundaries of the United States. We do a lot to conserve that land. But when we use this money — money estimated to amount to about $200 million a year in authorization, about $1 billion over a 5-year period — we are using that money to take land out of use. We are using that money to pay people not to use their land for anything. Whenever we look for areas in which we can save money, one area is to not pay people not to use their land.” According to the Forest Service’s website: “The Forest Legacy Program (FLP), a Federal program in partnership with States, supports State efforts to protect environmentally sensitive forest lands.... To maximize the public benefits it achieves, the program focuses on the acquisition of partial interests in privately owned forest lands. FLP helps the States develop and carry out their forest conservation plans. It encourages and supports acquisition of conservation easements, legally binding agreements transferring a negotiated set of property rights from one party to another, without removing the property from private ownership. Most FLP conservation easements restrict development, require sustainable forestry practices, and protect other values.” The Senate rejected Senator Lee’s amendment to S. 3240 on June 20, 2012 by a vote of 21 to 77 (Roll Call 147). The Constitution does not grant Congress the legislative power to acquire ownership of or conservation easement rights over large tracts of land within the states. Senator Alexander voted AGAINST this amendment.
The Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2012 (S. 3240) would authorize federal farm and food assistance programs for five years. The programs include crop subsidies, food stamps, and foreign food aid. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the programs authorized by the bill would cost $969 billion if implemented over the next 10 years.The Senate passed S. 3240 on June 21, 2012 by a vote of 64 to 35 (Roll Call 164). Federal agricultural subsidies and food aid are unconstitutional. Senator Alexander voted FOR this bill.
House Joint Resolution 117 would provide continuing appropriations for the federal government from October 1, 2012 through March 27, 2013. This would amount to an annualized rate of $1.047 trillion in “discretionary” spending for regular appropriations, and would include a 0.6 percent increase in funding for most federal programs and agencies. This continuing resolution would also provide nearly $100 billion in war funding and $6.4 billion in advance disaster relief funds.
To put this appropriations bill into perspective, consider what the Congressional Budget Office reported on August 22, 2012: “For fiscal year 2012 (which ends on September 30), the federal budget deficit will total $1.1 trillion, CBO estimates, marking the fourth year in a row with a deficit of more than $1 trillion.” This deficit is based on the CBO’s estimates of $2.435 trillion in federal revenue and $3.563 trillion in federal outlays for fiscal 2012. Therefore, 32 percent of every federal dollar spent in 2012 had to be borrowed. For 2011, 2010, and 2009 the shortfall has been 36, 37, and 40 percent