WASHINGTON - Here's how area members of Congress voted on major issues in the week ending Saturday:
Abortion tax policies
Voting 251 for and 175 against, the House on Wednesday sent the Senate a bill (HR3) that would use the U.S. tax code as a tool against abortions except those performed in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother. The bill would bar women from deducting abortion-related medical expenses from their taxable income. The bill also would bar tax credits that employers and others receive for the cost of providing employee medical insurance if the insurance covers abortion services. Additionally, the bill makes the Hyde Amendment permanent law rather than one that needs annual renewal. That amendment, which bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortions except incases of rape or incest or to protect the mother's life, has been federal law since 1976. Abortion is a legal medical procedure under the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.
Phil Roe, R-Tenn., said: ''Abortion is not a business our government should be involved in. Because something is legal doesn't mean you should do it. One of government's core functions is to protect the most innocent among us. I will always fight for the right to life because it is my belief that we are unique creations of God who knows us and loves us even before we are conceived.''
Jackie Speier, D-Calif., said: ''Forget that abortion is a legal procedure. Forget (that) Republicans want limited government when it comes to protecting you in the workplace but big government when it comes to regulating your bedroom. Roe v. Wade was decided 38 years ago. It's the law of the land. This is about whether we should use the tax code as a moral club to impose the religious beliefs of a few members of Congress on the entire nation.''
A yes vote was to pass the bill.
North Dakota: Rep. Rick Berg, R, voted yes.
South Dakota: Rep. Kristi Noem, R, voted yes.
Rape, incest taxes
Voting 192 for and 235 against, the House on Wednesday defeated a Democratic motion to bar the IRS from accessing personal medical records to establish for tax purposes whether a woman was a victim of rape or incest. The motion was in response to language in HR3 (above) that excludes abortion costs as deductible medical expenses on personal income-tax returns except in cases of rape or incest or when the mother's life is at risk.
Jackie Speier, D-Calif., said: ''How can we possibly ask a woman who has suffered an horrific crime to now face scrutiny by an IRS audit?''
Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said ''nothing in this bill allows the IRS any greater access to health information than they have ever had. (Federal privacy protection) is still in place.''
A yes vote backed the motion.
North Dakota: Berg, R, voted no.
South Dakota: Noem, R, voted no.
Voting 238 for and 183 against, the House on Tuesday passed a bill (HR1213) to prohibit spending to establish the state-run exchanges that will become core elements of the new health law starting in 2014. The bill would lower spending by $13 billion over five years and apply the savings to deficit reduction. It would also have the effect of expanding federal involvement in U.S. healthcare, because the law requires the federal government to establish exchanges in states that fail to do so. To date, 49 states and the District of Columbia have received $54 million in federal grants for early planning of their exchanges.
The exchanges targeted by this bill are designed mainly to supply private insurance to the self-employed and employees of small businesses, enabling them and their families to obtain affordable policies that meet federal standards. By assembling large pools of policyholders, the exchanges are designed to spread risk, drive down premium rates and create profitable markets for insurance firms. The exchanges would be closed to employees of large corporations, who would receive their coverage through company plans, and would also exclude those eligible for Medicaid and Medicare. The health law would extend insurance to 36 million uninsured Americans, a large share of whom would obtain their coverage in the exchanges.