WASHINGTON - Here is how Philadelphia-area senators voted on major issues last week (House in recess):
Oil-industry tax breaks. Voting 52-48, the Senate failed to reach 60 votes needed to advance a Democratic-sponsored bill (S 940) to end several tax breaks for the five largest oil and gas companies, with the savings of $21 billion over 10 years applied to deficit reduction. The bill would stop BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell from taking advantage of a deduction originally designed to spur exports by U.S. manufacturing firms, not oil companies.
A yes vote was to pass the bill.
Voting yes: Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Chris Coons (D., Del.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), and Robert Menendez (D., N.J.).
Voting no: Pat Toomey (R., Pa.).
Expedited oil drilling. Voting 42-57, the Senate defeated a GOP-sponsored bill (S 953) requiring the Department of the Interior to act within 60 days on several dozen applications for deepwater oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Many of these applications have been put on hold in response to last year's BP-Deepwater Horizon spill. The bill also sets deadlines for the administration to auction certain outer continental shelf leases in the gulf and off the Atlantic Coast that have been delayed because of the spill.
Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) said the lesson of the BP-Deepwater Horizon spill was that "we can pursue drilling in certain areas, but it must be done safely or else we spend billions afterward cleaning up the mess. I don't want to clean up the oil companies' messes. I don't want to put future generations of Americans at risk in terms of the conservation of their environment."
A yes vote was to advance the bill.
Voting yes: Toomey.
Voting no: Carper, Casey, Coons, Lautenberg, and Menendez.
GOP judicial filibuster. Voting 52-43, the Senate failed to reach 60 votes needed to end a GOP filibuster against the nomination of Goodwin Liu as a judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, based in San Francisco. This was the first defeat of one of President Obama's judicial nominees.
Liu, 40, son of Taiwanese immigrants, is a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley and former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Critics portrayed him as an inexperienced ideologue, while backers noted qualifications such as the American Bar Association's highest rating for a judicial nominee.
A yes vote was to advance the nomination.
Voting yes: Carper, Casey, Coons, Lautenberg, and Menendez.
Voting no: Toomey.
This week. Both chambers will take up a bill to renew certain sections of the USA Patriot Act.