As part of the ongoing series to introduce New York State voters to the relatively unknown appointed Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who is up for re-election this year, I have created a selection of her voting record. The goal of this is not to pick a side, but to make voters aware of exactly what Senator Gillibrand believed at specific times in her elected positions as opposed to the inevitable polispeak spin that are re-election campaigns.
Senator Gillibrand served as the Representative for New York’s 20th District (2006 – 2009) prior to being appointed to the Senate by non-elected Gov. Patterson in 2009. The overall voting record will reflect the total time in office. Records of votes can be found at Project Vote Smart.
The most prevelant issue on the minds of New Yorkers today is jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the unemployment rate for New York State as of October 2009 is 8.7% unadjusted. The latest data about the Binghamton area shows an unemployment rate of 8.2% as of November 2009This figure does not include those no longer receiving unemployment assistance from the Government, which does not mean they have, or have not, become employed.
Senator Gillibrand has voted on this issue as follows:
Emergency Extended Unemployment Compensation – October 2008, voted Yes, Passed House – bill that extends emergency unemployment compensation
Similar Bills in the Senate, or since 2008 in the House, were also voted on by Senator Gillibrand and have the same voting record.
Related to this issue is the question of Housing. It is likely the 2nd highest concern among New Yorkers statewide. The rate of foreclosures for New York ranks the state as 39th in the nation (as of the 3rd quarter 2009). While this is hardly the worst news, it provides little consolation for those affected, which is 1 in every 521 homes.
On this subject Senator Gillibrand made the following votes:
Expanding American Homeownership Act of 2007 – November 2007, voted Yes, passed House – a bill that expands mortgage insurance programs under the National Housing Act.
Key point – Establishes the Affordable Housing Fund to provide grants that make rent and home ownership more affordable for low-income families (Sec. 31).
-Establishes a pilot program to allow mortgagors with insufficient credit histories to obtain an alternative credit rating based on rent, utilities, and insurance payment histories (Sec. 25).
Mortgage Reform and Anti-Subprime Lending Act – November 2007, voted Yes, passed House – a bill that standardizes licensing requirements for mortgage loan originators and requires the maximum costs of a mortgage loan to be stated in the contract.
Housing Foreclosure Assistance Programs – May 2008, voted Yes, adopted by House – an amendment to HR 3221 that would set up a Federal Housing Administration refinance program, make changes to the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), make changes to and increase oversight and regulation of housing-related government sponsored entities, and enact other provisions related to housing.
Key point – Raises limits on loans that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can purchase from $93,750 to $417,000 for a single-family residence, from $120,000 to $533,850 for a two-family residence, from $145,000 to $645,300 for a three-family residence, and from $180,000 to $801,950 for a four-family residence (Sec. 333).
** Note that this appears to be a conflict. Expanded home ownership for low-income families was a leading factor in the sub-prime mortgage crisis that lead to the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the overall recession.
The next logical area of votes to note would be the economy.
Pay-As-You-Go Rule – January 2007, voted Yes, passed House – require that any tax cuts must be offset by either a different tax increase or spending cut, and to require certain listings of congressional earmarks and limited tax and tariff benefits.
Hollywood Productions Tax Credit – February 2009, voted NO, Adopted Senate – an amendment that removes a tax credit for film and television production from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Public Debt Amendment – March 2009, did not vote, Rejected Senate – To prohibit the consideration of any budget resolution, or amendment thereto, or conference report thereon, that shows an increase in the public debt, for the period of the current fiscal year through the next 10 years, equal to or greater than the debt accumulated from 1789 to January 20, 2009.
Supplemental Appropriations for the Cash for Clunkers Program – August 2009, voted Yes, passed Senate – a bill that appropriates an additional $2 billion for support of the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program, whereby consumers can receive a subsidy when they trade in an old vehicle for a new, more fuel-efficient one.
Prohibiting Funding for ACORN – November 2009, voted NO, Adopted Senate – an amendment to HR 3288 that prohibits funds made available under the bill from being used to directly or indirectly fund the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).
**Note – certain votes seem to be in conflict, such as limiting the Public Debt and Pay As You Go.
Another area of heated debate is healthcare. An issue that Congressional democrats are pushing forward, and the public is against (according to national polls over the past 6 months).
Medicare Bill – July 2007, voted Yes, override VETO passed House – a bill that extends and expands Medicare coverage for various programs and revises regulations regarding Medicare fee-for-service programs.
Funding to Combat AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis – July 2007, voted Yes, passed House – a bill that authorizes $48 billion to the Global Fund for assistance to certain countries for combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis for the five-year period of 2009 through 2013.
Prohibiting Federal Funds for Abortion Services – December 2009, voted Yes, Failed Senate – a motion to table an amendment to S Amdt 2786 to HR 3590 that prohibits funds authorized or appropriated by the bill from being used to pay for abortions or to cover any part of the costs of a health plan that includes abortion coverage, unless the woman would be placed in danger of death without the performance of an abortion or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
Health Care and Insurance Law Amendments – December 2009, voted Yes, passed Senate – Project Vote Smart staff and volunteers are working hard to produce a clear and accurate summary of the contents of the bill. Status and nature of the Bill is unknown.
**Note there are apparent conflicts in this voting record with what is claimed to currently be in the Health Care Reform Bill in Congress.
And lastly other assorted votes that might be of importance (but again are not a full list of Senator Gillibrand’s voting record).
Requiring Reports from the Defense Department to Congress Regarding Withdrawal from Iraq – October 2007, voted Yes, passed House – to urge the Department of Defense to perform comprehensive planning for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq and to require the Secretary of Defense to submit reports to Congress and meet with Congress regarding these withdrawal plans.
Assistance for Mexico and Central America for Anti-Drug Programs – June 2008, did not vote, passed House – a bill that provides assistance for anti-drug programs in Mexico and Central America through 2010 and authorizes $1.54 billion.
Requiring Reinforced Border Fencing – July 2009, voted NO, adopted Senate – to approve an amendment to regulate the construction of at least 700 miles of fencing along the US/Mexico border.
State and Federal Medical Marijuana Law Enforcement and Implementation – July 2007, voted NO, Rejected House – an amendment that states the funds in HR 3093 will not be used by the Department of Justice to prevent the states of Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington from implementing their state laws regarding the distribution, possession, and cultivation of medical marijuana.
Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice – August 2009, voted Yes, confirmed Senate – to confirm President Barack Obama’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to be Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
U.S. Military Commanders to Testify Before Congress – October 2009, voted NO, Rejected Senate – to adopt an amendment to HR 3326 that requires certain United States Military Commanders and other officials to provide Congressional testimony on meeting U.S. military objectives in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
**Note that conflicts seem to appear in reference to the military votes.
This is not a full list of all the votes of Senator Gillibrand’s history. But this cross-section represents the voting record history. It gives an indication of potential future votes, changes in voting patterns, and is factual.
There are various interpertations that can be made of this voting record. It is up to the voter to determine what they feel is important, and weigh this record versus any potential opponents history and campaign promises before voting.