Monday, August 13, 2012

Getting to Know Paul Ryan

Now that Paul Ryan has been declared as the Republican candidate for Vice President, I thought that it was time to take a quick look at his voting record.  Fortunately, Project Vote Smart did all of the heavy lifting for me!  While I realize that most of my American readers are well acquainted with Mr. Paul's leanings, readers outside of the U.S. are less likely to be aware of his stance on some of the hot button issues.

Project Vote Smart allows users to sort the voting records for Mr. Ryan organized by issue.  Let's look at a handful of issues and how Mr. Ryan voted.

1.) Campaign Finance and Election Issues:

Bill HR 5175 - Campaign Finance Disclosure Requirements - Voted NAY 
Bill Passed June 24, 2010 - 239 to 160

This bill established new disclosure requirements for political advertisements transmitted through radio and television that are not authorized by a candidate or political committee.  Individuals and organizations that are significant funders (greater than $10,000) that pay for the communication must state their name and organization name during the political advertisement.  Even more interestingly, HR 5175 also prohibits individuals that hold or seek to hold leases for drilling for oil and gas in the Outer Continental Shelf from directly or indirectly contributing to any political party, committee or candidate for public office or to fund any electioneering communication.

Bill HR 2356 - Campaign Reform Act of 2001 - Voted NAY
Bill Passed February 14, 2002 - 240 to 189

This bill reformed the ways that politicians could raise money, banning soft money contributions to national politics and limited contributions to candidates for Senate and House elections and raised the limit on contributions that individuals could make to PACs and political parties.  Bill HR 536 also prohibited corporate and labor union funds from purchasing and running issue ads that specified individual candidates 60 days prior to an election.

2.) Environmental Issues:

Bill HR 3534 - Offshore Drilling Regulations and Other Energy Law Amendments - Voted NAY
Bill Passed July 30, 2010 - 209 to 193

This bill established various bureaus within the Department of the Interior and amended regulations for non-renewable resource management in light of the BP Macondo Gulf of Mexico blowout.  Among many proposals, Bill HR 3454 established a fine of $200 million for every 1 million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico, required blowout preventers to have two sets of blind shear rams and established that a company that bid or requested a permit to drill on the outer continental shelf that had caused more than 10 fatalities at its facilities or was in violation of the Clean Air Act or Federal Water Pollution Control Act would be prohibited from either bidding or operating.

3.) Abortion Issues:

Bill HR 3 - Prohibiting Taxpayer Funding of Abortion - Voted YEA
Bill Passed  May 4, 2011 - 251 to 175

This bill prohibits any federal funds from being used for the purpose of providing abortions except in the case of incest, rape or the life of the pregnant woman is at risk.  The bill goes further to prohibit the recipients of an abortion from using the medical expenses associated with an abortion as a tax deduction.

4.) Gun Control:

Amendment 215 - 24 Hour Background Check Amendment - Voted YEA
Amendment adopted June 18, 1999 - 218 to 211

This amendment reduced the time required for a firearms acquisition background check to 24 hours.  It also increased the penalty for committing a crime using a gun with a large capacity magazine to a minimum of 15 years.  Amendment 216 which was rejected by the House on the same day (Mr. Ryan voted NAY), proposed to increase the time allotted for background checks to 72 hours.

5.) Gay Rights:

Amendment 356 - Adoption Restrictions Amendment - Voted YEA
Amendment rejected July 29, 1999 - 213 to 215

This amendment would have banned federal funding in the District of Columbia for couples who wanted to adopt a child but who were not related by blood or marriage.

6.) Stem Cell Research:

Bill Passed June 7, 2007 - 247 to 176

This bill required the Secretary of Health and Human Services to support research that utilized human embryonic stem cells, regardless of the date that the cells were derived from a human embryo.  The ethical requirements in the bill stated that the stem cells used must be derived from embryos that were donated to in-vitro fertilization clinics for the purpose of fertility treatments and that they were deemed in excess of the clinical need for individual treatment and that said embryos would otherwise be discarded.  As well, the individual donating the embryos did so without receiving compensation.

While most voters already have a sense of Mr. Ryan's political and moral leanings, I always find it fascinating to dig a little deeper into the voting background of our politicians to see, in black and white, how they really function on a wide variety of issues that impact all of us.  

As this election cycle endlessly winds on, I will continue to visit the Vote Smart website to see if I can glean anything else that sheds some light on the darkness that is D.C.

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