Back on February 6, the Washington Post’s Philip Bump put together a list of the Senate votes that then-Sens. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton disagreed on.
He did not, however, actually go into the details of those votes, instead choosing only to highlight Sanders’ opposition to the Troubled Asset Relief Program. This is a curious omission from an otherwise detailed piece. So, with only a few days left until the last Super Tuesday, let’s take a look.
Feb. 8, 2007: On the Nomination PN177: Gen. George W. Casey, Jr., in the Army, to be General. Clinton, Nay. Sanders, Yea.
George W. Casey, Jr. had been the senior coalition commander in Iraq since 2004. He came under fire by the Bush administration twice: first for openly discussing plans to reduce troop levels, then again for his plan to withdraw from Iraq.
This disagreement is thus perfectly consistent with the two candidates’ stances on foreign policy. Clinton, who voted for and spoke at length in favor of the 2003 authorization of the invasion of Iraq, opposed the general’s nomination. Sanders repeatedly called the war a “disaster in terms of the number of dead and wounded,” and stated “we must bring our troops home as soon as possible.”
Mar. 6, 2007: On the Motion to Table S.Amdt. 335 to S.Amdt. 275 to S. 4 (Improving America’s Security Act of 2007). Clinton, Nay. Sanders, Yea.
Mar. 6, 2007: On the Amendment S.Amdt. 333 to S.Amdt. 275 to S. 4 (Improving America’s Security Act of 2007). Clinton, Nay. Sanders, Yea.
Mar. 6, 2007: On the Motion to Table S.Amdt. 338 to S.Amdt. 275 to S. 4 (Improving America’s Security Act of 2007). Clinton, Nay. Sanders, Yea.
This one is a little harder,but in a nutshell S.Amdt 335 converted S.Amdt 275‘s Title II, Homeland Security Grants into Risk-Based Funding for Homeland Security, and further reduced the minimum grant to states from 0.75% to between 0.25-0.45%. S.Amdt 338 was another attempt to pass risk-based funding with reduced minimums.
While it appears Sen. Sanders did not make a statement on the amendment, Vermont’s senior Sen. Leahy did in an argument for S.Amdt 333, which would reverse the reductions of the other amendments:
Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I can explain this easily. It is a bipartisan amendment. I offer it on behalf of myself and Senators Thomas, Stevens, Roberts, Pryor, Sanders, Enzi, Hatch, and Whitehouse to restore the minimum allocation for States under the State Homeland Security Grant Program. Right now, in the underlying bill, it is proposed at .45 percent. Our amendment would restore it to current law which is .75. That means that every State would have, of the homeland security money, at least .75 percent of it.
Mar. 15, 2007: S.Con.Res. 20 (110th): A concurrent resolution expressing the sense of Congress that no funds should be cut off or reduced … Clinton, Yea. Sanders, Nay.
While this was a symbolic resolution, it also runs counter to the narrative that Sen. Sanders always voted to support Iraq War funding. As detailed on People’s War, he repeatedly voted against Iraq War funding, with four exceptions:
The first time Sanders voted ‘yea’ to an Iraq war spending bill came in 2006 when the bill included funding for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. The second time he voted ‘yea’ was when an amendment he inserted into the bill giving a $1 million grant to the Vermont Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA) to help returning veterans cope with their health care and mental health needs upon returning home. The third time he voted ‘yea’ was when the legislation incorporated a massive expansion of G.I. Bill benefits that Sanders co-sponsored and the Bush administration opposed guaranteeing full scholarships to veterans, including activated National Guard troops and reservists, with three years of service attending any public, in-state university and expanded benefits for students at private colleges and for graduate schools. The last time he voted ‘yea’ was when he gave his consent, along with the entire U.S. Senate, to fund the Iraq war’s end as President Barack Obama removed all U.S. troops from the country.
Apr. 25, 2007: On the Amendment S.Amdt. 921 to S. 761 (No short title on file). Clinton, Nay. Sanders, Yea.
This one is a little baffling when you read the proposed amendment, which was part of the effort to repeal the NIST’s Advanced Technology Program.
The Senator from Oklahoma [Mr. Coburn] proposes amendment No. 921. The amendment is as follows: (Purpose: To discontinue the Advanced Technology Program of the National Institute of Standards and Technology) At the appropriate place, insert the following: SEC. __. DISCONTINUATION OF THE ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY PROGRAM. (a) Repeal.--Section 28 of the Act of March 3, 1901 (15 U.S.C. 278n) is repealed. (b) Unobligated Balances.--Any amounts appropriated for the Advanced Technology Program of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which are unobligated as of the effective date of this section, shall be deposited in the General Fund of the Treasury of the United States for debt reduction. (c) Effective Date.--This section shall take effect on the date that is 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.
As Sen. Sanders has not been a crusader against the national debt like his Republican colleagues, there must be a different reason why he voted for this amendment to defund the NIST’s ATP. Perhaps that reason can be found in Sen. Coburn’s argument in favor of the amendment, moments later:
Mr. COBURN. Mr. President, this is an amendment to eliminate the Advanced Technology Program. I see the Senator from Michigan is here, and I am sure she will mount a rigorous defense in regard to it. There are some things people should be aware of. We had an oversight hearing on this program in my Federal Financial Management Subcommittee. We showed it to be ineffective. Between 1990 and 2004, 35 percent of the $2 billion of this program went to Fortune 500 companies--Fortune 500 companies--with 65 percent of the grants under this program never being asked to be funded outside of the program. In other words, they never went to the private sector. Almost two-thirds never attempted to get funding in the private sector. This was a program that was designed to help with technology. It wasn't designed to be a corporate welfare program. In fact, what has happened is that five companies since 1990 have consumed $376 million of this money. Let me tell you who the companies were. They were: General Motors, hardly in need of taxpayer money to fund research; IBM, hardly in need of taxpayer money to fund research; General Electric, hardly in need of taxpayer money to fund research; Minnesota Mining, 3M; and Motorola. Their combined revenues yearly are in excess of $50 billion. We are going to see a large defense of this program, because there have been some instances where it has done some good. I don't deny that. But for the $2 billion we have spent on it, what have we gotten? The House has eliminated this program, by the way. We decreased it over the last 2 years. This is a program that is not working efficiently, is not working effectively, and we are not getting great return for our money.
While science advocates have decried the demise of ATP, and the generally Republican opposition to funding NIST and other scientific research efforts, it appears that Sen. Sanders may have voted based on his historic dislike of corporate welfare, despite it being only 35% of the total ATP grants during that time frame.
May. 7, 2007: On the Cloture Motion S. 1082. Clinton, Yea. Sanders, Nay.
May. 9, 2007: S. 1082 (110th): Food and Drug Administration Revitalization Act. Clinton, Yea. Sanders, Nay.
To understand this, a look at the congressional record for 5/7/2007 is required. In this case, it appears that the Senate was working through a list of amendments to S.1082. About 30 minutes prior to the cloture vote, per Sen. Dorgan’s statement, a list of manager’s amendments were added, which he (and presumably Sen. Sanders) wanted more time to review.
Mr. KENNEDY. Madam President, 30 seconds. I was reminding the membership, as the Senator from West Virginia knows, this bill is going to ensure the safety of our pharmaceutical products. It is going to ensure the safety of our food products. It is going to insist that the FDA promote the latest in terms of science. We need to push the FDA into the 21st century, and this legislation will do it. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Who yields time? The Senator from North Dakota is recognized. Mr. DORGAN. Madam President, I am all for pulling or pushing the FDA into whatever century we determine at this point. I only pointed out that I wish to review some of the managers' package that deals with ginseng, baby turtles, tanning beds, and more, and I want a bit of time--and perhaps others would if they don't know these amendments exist--to take a look at the amendments.
This isn’t exactly an unreasonable request, given the absurdities that often slip in through the amendment process, but of course political expediency comes first for most Senators.
As it turned out, two days later Sen. Sanders was the sole “nay” vote on the final legislation.
May. 16, 2007: On the Cloture Motion S.Amdt. 1135 to H.R. 1495 (Water Resources Development Act of 2007). Clinton, Yea. Sanders, Nay.
As it turns out, this amendment is exemplary of the worst type of amendment: those that serve a political purpose totally unrelated to the bill at hand. In this case, Sen. Mitch McConnell drafted an amendment to continue funding for the Iraq War, and attached it to the Water Resources Development Act. The vote for cloture was simply to prevent lengthy dissent on the floor, which was virtually guaranteed otherwise.
Given the way the original vote for war in Iraq went down, is anyone surprised by how Clinton and Sanders split on this issue?
Amendment No. 1135 Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the pending amendment to the bill be set aside, and on behalf of Senator Cochran, I call up an amendment to the bill, which is at the desk. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. The clerk will report. The legislative clerk read as follows: The Senator from Kentucky [Mr. McConnell], for Mr. Cochran, Mr. Warner, and Mr. Bond, proposes an amendment numbered 1135. Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the reading of the amendment be dispensed with. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. The amendment is as follows: (Purpose: To express the sense of the Senate that Congress must send to the President acceptable legislation to continue funds for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom by not later than May 28, 2007) At the appropriate place, insert the following: SEC. __. SENSE OF THE SENATE ON FUNDING FOR OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM AND OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM.
Jun. 6, 2007: On the Amendment S.Amdt. 1267 to S.Amdt. 1150 to S. 1348 (Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007). Clinton, Nay. Sanders, Yea.
Jun. 7, 2007: On the Cloture Motion S.Amdt. 1150 to S. 1348 (Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007). Clinton, Yea. Sanders, Nay.
Jun. 7, 2007: On the Cloture Motion S. 1348. Clinton, Yea. Sanders, Nay.
Jun. 7, 2007: On the Cloture Motion S.Amdt. 1150 to S. 1348 (Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007). Clinton, Yea. Sanders, Nay.
Sen. Sanders has been repeatedly hammered for his vote against comprehensive immigration reform, and in his defense, he has argued that S.1348 had too many trade-offs compared to the reform act he voted for in 2013. These four votes should give us a better picture:
To remove the requirement that Y-1 nonimmigrant visa holders leave the United States before they are able to renew their visa.
This requirement is one of the driving factors behind deportations. It makes very little sense to force visa holders to return to their country before renewing their visas. How many parents want to have to leave their children behind for several years just to renew a piece of paper?
On the other hand, if one subscribes to the bullshit neoconservative notion that only terrorists let their visas expire, it makes perfect sense. It should therefore come as no surprise that Sen. Clinton voted against this common sense reform, while Sen. Sanders voted for it.The next three votes, on regarding cloture of S.1348 and its amendment S.1150, are in keeping with Sen. Sanders’ preference for allowing debate. Given that he voted in favor of comprehensive immigration reform under a different bill in 2013, it is entirely possible that he would have voted for S.1348 with the right amendments.
Jun. 19, 2007: On the Amendment S.Amdt. 1614 to S.Amdt. 1502 to H.R. 6 (CLEAN Energy Act of 2007). Clinton, Yea. Sanders, Nay.
Jun. 20, 2007: On the Amendment S.Amdt. 1800 to S.Amdt. 1704 to S.Amdt. 1502 to H.R. 6. Clinton, Yea. Sanders, Nay.
Jun. 20, 2007: On the Motion (Motion to Waive C.B.A. re: Inhofe Amdt. No. 1666). Clinton, Nay. Sanders, Yea.
These three votes were all related to H.R.6, the CLEAN Energy Act of 2007.
SA 1614. Mr. TESTER (for himself, Mr. Byrd, Mr. Rockefeller, Mr. Salazar, and Mr. Bingaman) submitted an amendment intended to be proposed to amendment SA 1502 proposed by Mr. Reid to the bill H.R. 6, to reduce our Nation's dependency on foreign oil by investing in clean, renewable, and alternative energy resources, promoting new emerging energy technologies, developing greater efficiency, and creating a Strategic Energy Efficiency and Renewables Reserve to invest in alternative energy, and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows: At the end of title III, add the following: SEC. 3___. COAL INNOVATION DIRECT LOAN PROGRAM. (a) In General.--Title XXXI of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (42 U.S.C. 13571 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following: ``SEC. 3105. COAL INNOVATION DIRECT LOAN PROGRAM. ``(a) Definitions.--In this section: ``(1) Carbon capture.--The term `carbon capture' means the capture, separation, and compression of carbon dioxide that would otherwise be released to the atmosphere at a facility in the production of end products of a project prior to transportation of the carbon dioxide to a long-term storage site.
Sen. Sanders’ Nay vote against this amendment is understandable, given the track record of “clean” coal technology . It’s not very surprising that Sen. Jon Tester of Montana would propose a massively pro-coal amendment, and probably not surprising that Clinton, as a Third Way “moderate”, would support lukewarm reforms bundled with handouts.
In the second vote, Sen. Sanders voted to uphold a tax credit for biodiesel by striking down a Republican amendment that would have removed it from the final bill.
Amendment No. 1800 Under the previous order, there will now be 2 minutes of debate equally divided prior to a vote in relation to amendment No. 1800, offered by the Senator from Arizona, Mr. Kyl. Mr. KYL. Madam President, this amendment very simply changes an IRS interpretation of the 2005 Energy bill that provides a $1-per-gallon tax credit for creation of biodiesel. An interpretation by IRS said that if you take animal fat and add it to the biodiesel--or add it to diesel, you have biodiesel and then get the $1-per-gallon credit. That was not what was intended when this was created. What has happened is all of the animal fat used to do this was already being used by the oleo chemical industry. Folks, for example, who make soap and detergents and the like, are finding the cost of the animal fat, their feed stock, has skyrocketed 100 percent this past year because of the way this has been done. As a result, we are simply changing the interpretation IRS put on it that big oil companies can take advantage of what was not intended to be a tax credit for them, people who are already refining diesel fuel. But rather, those who would create legitimate new diesel fuel from legitimate biomass, the credit remains; nothing changes for that. It simply means the oil companies taking advantage of the credit in an improper way would no longer be able to do so. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Montana is recognized. Mr. BAUCUS. Madam President, the Senator from Arizona seeks to strike the provision of the underlying Finance Committee amendment--frankly, the amendment package which the committee voted to report by a vote of 15 to 5. The underlying amendment before us extends for 2 years the $1- per-gallon credit for renewable diesel, including diesel produced from animal fats. That credit is in current law. It is only 2 years old. We should give it time to work. Under the language in the underlying Finance Committee amendment, we will revisit subsidies for most fuels, including this one, in the year 2010. The bottom line is we want to displace foreign oil imports--that is the goal--and every gallon of renewable diesel produced is a gallon of foreign imports displaced. I urge my colleagues to help decrease foreign oil imports and oppose the Kyl amendment. I yield the remainder of my time. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The question now is on agreeing to the Kyl amendment.
The wording related to the last vote on S.1666 is confusing, but in a nutshell, Sen. Inhofe asked the Senate to waive all points of order (regarding cost-benefit analysis of the amendment).
Mr. DURBIN. I make the point again that there is already a waiver provision in this bill. The Inhofe amendment goes too far in that regard. If it is the appropriate time, I will raise my point of order. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator may make the point of order. Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, I raise a point of order that the pending amendment violates section 201 of Senate Concurrent Resolution 21, the concurrent resolution on the budget for fiscal year 2007. Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, I move to waive the applicable points of order against my amendment and ask for the yeas and nays. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second? There appears to be a sufficient second. The question is on agreeing to the motion. The clerk will call the roll.
It seems unlikely that Sen. Sanders would agree to waive the point of order if he opposed the amendment, as simply voting against the waiver would be enough to kill it – as it happened despite his vote. Clearly, some other reason must have been required.
I will continue to update this piece as I work through the list.