Each Senate vote used in the ratings is described separately and is identifi ed by a number that corresponds to the numbers at the top of the columns of tabular information.
Key to Symbols
|+||"Correct" vote, supporting the Chamber's position||'07%||Percentage of correct votes of total cast by member on Chamber-selected issues during 2007, the second session of the 110th Congress.|
|-||"Wrong" vote, contrary to the Chamber's position|
|?||No recorded vote||CUM%||Average annual percentage of correct votes cast by member on Chamber-selected issues since the Chamber began rating members in 1965, or since that member's first year in Congress, through 2007.|
|S||Speaker did not vote|
|*||Seat vacant on date of the vote||Note: The percentage calculations were made using only + and - votes. The ?, S, and P votes were not included in the calculations.|
|NA||Insufficient votes cast|
(1) Punitive Energy Taxes—H.R. 6
In a signifi cant victory for the Chamber, the Senate failed to garner the 60 votes necessary to end debate on an amendment to H.R. 6, the CLEAN Energy Act of 2007, that would have levied punitive taxes on the oil and natural gas sector. As a result of this 57-36 vote, the tax increases were not included in the Senate energy package passed on June 21.
The tax increase would have exceeded $32 billion and would have singled out the oil and natural gas industry for punitive tax treatment to pay for unproven alternative energy technologies that are not yet economically viable. Moreover, the tax increases likely would have been passed onto consumers, leading to higher prices for gasoline and home heating.
Throughout 2007, the Chamber strongly opposed several schemes considered in the House and Senate to target the oil and natural gas sector for new taxes. Fortunately, no punitive tax increases were included in energy policy legislation, ultimately signed into law by President Bush on December 19.
(2) Energy Bill—H.R. 6
In a victory for the Chamber, the Senate on December 7 failed to garner the 60 votes necessary to end debate on H.R. 6, the Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protec-tion, and Energy Effi ciency Act, which was at the time seriously fl awed and unnecessarily anti-business energy legislation. The vote was 53-42.
The version of H.R. 6 voted on December 7 would have established an unworkable 15 percent nationwide renewable electricity mandate and a $21 billion tax component that singled out the oil and natural gas industry for punitive tax increases.
H.R. 6 was ultimately signed into law without the punitive tax increases or renewable electricity mandate.
(3) Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act—H.R. 3074
In September, the Senate passed H.R. 3074, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 88-7, with the Chamber's full support. This legislation provides the necessary funding to ensure that the U.S. transportation system is the safest and most effi cient in the world.
The business community depends on a safe, reliable transportation system to remain competitive and productive. H.R. 3074 addresses the enormous demands of the U.S. transportation infrastructure system by providing funding for highway and transit programs authorized by the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Effi cient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). In addition, it provides full funding for the Federal Aviation Administration to improve the safety, performance, and capacity of the nation's aviation system.
This bill was ultimately folded into the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 and signed into law by the president on December 26.
(4) Water Resources Development Act— H.R. 1495
In September, the Senate agreed to the conference report to H.R. 1495, the Water Resources Development Act, 81-12, with the full support of the Chamber.
This comprehensive water resources legislation is long overdue and provides the coordinated federal agenda needed to better protect the United States against severe weather and fl ooding and to facilitate commerce at the nation's waterways and ports. H.R. 1495 provides the Army Corps of Engineers with the resources needed to undertake hundreds of flood control, navigation, and environmental mitigation projects over the next two years and ensures that transportation demands are met.
The president vetoed the legislation in November.
(5) Water Resources Development Act Veto Override—H.R. 1495
Following House action to override the president's veto, the Senate on December 8 voted 79-14 to override the veto. The measure became law. The Water Resources Development Act—typically authorized on a two-year basis—is an important Chamber priority and had not been reauthorized since 2000.
(6) Prescription Drug Reimportation—S. 1082
The Chamber—a long-standing opponent of legislation to authorize the unregulated reimportation of medicines from foreign sources—supported a compromise amendment to S. 1082, the Food and Drug Administration Revitalization Act, that would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to certify public health and safety before allowing any reimportation of pharmaceuticals into the United States. This compromise, which was approved 49-40, prevented an amendment from being included in S. 1082 that would have allowed unregulated drug reimportation.
Reimported prescription drugs raise serious concerns about drug safety and counterfeiting. While the Chamber recognizes the need to make prescription drugs more accessible, reimportation legislation could eliminate the ability of drug manufacturers to ensure the integrity of their products and could expose Americans to mislabeled, tainted, or expired medications.
No reimportation provisions were included in subsequent legislation that ultimately became law.
(7) Temporary Worker Program—S. 1348
Despite strong opposition by the Chamber, the Senate, by a vote of 74-24, agreed to an amendment to S. 1348, the Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Reform Act, that would have cut the number of temporary workers in a future essential worker program from 400,000 to 200,000 a year.
The Chamber supports a temporary worker program that realistically takes into account the needs of the economy in setting the number of visas to be granted. Ultimately, the Senate was unable to garner the support necessary to limit debate and bring S. 1348 to a final vote, and this amendment was not passed into law.
(8) Comprehensive Immigration Reform—S. 1639
On June 26, despite the full support of the Chamber, the Senate rejected a procedural motion to proceed with debate on S. 1639, the Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Reform Act of 2007. While this legislation was not perfect, it laid the foundation for vitally needed comprehensive immigration reform.
American citizens and businesses need a practical plan to fi x the nation's dysfunctional immigration laws. The current system is clearly broken, and states are reacting to the lack of action at the federal level with a patchwork of immigration laws and enforcement that is detrimental to America's competitiveness.
The Senate was unable to limit debate and bring S. 1639 to a fi nal vote. The Chamber will continue to press for comprehensive immigration reform in the second session of the 110th Congress.
(9) H1-B Visa Cap—H.R. 2669
In July, by a vote of 55-40, the Senate failed to attain the 60 votes necessary to waive the Budget Act to proceed with consideration of an amendment to H.R. 2669, the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007.
The Chamber strongly supported the amendment, which would have provided temporary relief for companies in need of highly skilled workers by raising the H1-B visa cap to 115,000 for 2008.
The Chamber represents numerous companies and organizations that need to bring highly skilled workers into the United States each year. It is imperative to reform the H1-B visa program and the employment-based green card system to ensure that American businesses remain competitive.
(10) Employee Free Choice Act—H.R. 800
The Chamber strongly opposed a procedural motion in the Senate, which failed 51-48, to proceed with consideration of H.R. 800, the Employee Free Choice Act.
This legislation would have upended the democratic process by which employees determine whether they wish to be represented by a particular union. The National Labor Relations Act (NRLA), enacted more than 70 years ago, established a secret ballot system that protected the interests of unions, employers, and employees and ensured that the process was free from coercion and intimidation. If enacted, H.R. 800 would have amended NRLA to give unions the right to achieve recognition through a card check process, thus permitting labor unions to avoid secret ballot elections.
Although this legislation was ultimately defeated, it is a major priority for unions and will undoubtedly come up again in future sessions of Congress. The Chamber will continue to fi ght this legislation to make certain employees maintain their rights to the time-honored secret ballot process and are free from intimidation and coercion by the unions.
(11) U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement— H.R. 3688
W ith strong support from the Chamber, the Senate passed H.R. 3688, the United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act by a 77-18 vote in December after approval by the House. This trade agreement brings tangible commercial benefi ts to American workers, farmers, and firms while advancing key U.S. foreign policy interests.
The agreement provides a level playing fi eld for American workers and farmers, ensuring that the United States gets liberalized access to the dynamic Peruvian market. Currently, most Peruvian products enter the U.S. market duty free, while American exports face an average tariff of 11 percent for manufactured goods and 16 percent for agricultural goods. This agreement corrects this unfair trade imbalance by eliminating nearly all tariffs on U.S. exports to Peru within a few years. The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that this agreement will add $1.1 billion to U.S. exports and $2.1 billion to U.S. GDP.
The president signed this legislation into law in December.