The Free Press, Mankato, MN

February 15, 2013

Congress: How they voted, week ended Feb. 15

Voterama in Congress

WASHINGTON — Here's how area members of Congress voted on major issues in the week ending Feb. 15.


FEDERAL WORKERS' PAY FREEZE: Voting 261 for and 154 against, the House on Feb. 15 passed a Republican bill (HR 273) to freeze federal workers' pay through Dec. 31, thus denying a 0.5 percent increase set for March 27.

This would extend a pay freeze that began in January 2011 for the two million U.S. civil servants. The bill also would extend until year's end a pay freeze for members of Congress that started in January 2009.

Doug Collins, R-Ga., said: "This is not about federal workers, this is about financial reality....I cannot support the government taking on more debt to give raises to members of Congress and federal employees at this time."

Jim McGovern, D-Mass., called the bill "a rotten, rotten thing to do" to civil servants such as those at the National Institutes of Health, Drug Enforcement Agency and Central Intelligence Agency. "And for what? To score some cheap political points."

A yes vote was to pass the bill. Voting yes: Tim Walz, D-1, John Kline, R-2, Erik Paulsen, R-3, Michele Bachmann, R-6 

Voting no: Betty McCollum, D-4, Keith Ellison, D-5, Collin Peterson, D-7, Rick Nolan, D-8 


FILIBUSTER AGAINST CHUCK HAGEL: By a vote of 58 for and 40 against, the Senate on Feb. 14 failed to reach 60 votes for ending a Republican filibuster against the nomination of Chuck Hagel as the nation's 24th secretary of defense.

Hagel, 66, served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam in 1967-68, receiving two Purple Hearts as an infantry squad leader, and was a Republican senator from Nebraska for two terms ending in 2008.

He has drawn opposition from Republicans unhappy with his comments on U.S. policies toward Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel and who also object to the administration's handling of the terrorist attack last October on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and its aftermath.

Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said: "This is a critical time for national defense. It is a critical time for our country. We need to get on and approve the nomination so (Hagel) can get on with his duties as secretary of defense.

John McCain, R-Ariz., said Hagel's positions "on the principal national security issues facing our country -- the Iranian nuclear program, the resurgent Islamist terrorist threat in North Africa and the Middle East --indicate to me a disqualifying lack of professional judgment."

A yes vote was to advance the nomination.

Voting yes: Al Franken, D, Amy Klobuchar, D