Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (6/13)

Here is how Philadelphia-area members of Congress were recorded on major roll-call votes last week (as noted in last Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer).

Senate

Marriage amendment. Senators failed, 49-48, to reach the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster against a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage.

A yes vote was to end debate and move to a vote on the amendment.

Voting yes: Rick Santorum (R., Pa.).

Voting no: Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D., Del.), Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) and Arlen Specter (R., Pa.).
Not much to think about here (little Ricky hearts “the base” again).

Estate tax. Senators failed, 57-41, to reach the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster and advance a bill (HR 8) to permanently repeal the estate tax in 2011.

A yes vote backed the estate-tax repeal.

Voting yes: Santorum and Specter.

Voting no: Biden, Carper, Lautenberg and Menendez.
Arlen Specter should read this to find a clue about why he should have voted no on this (I guess he figured people wouldn’t pay attention while he pretended to hold Cheney’s feet to the fire over the NSA domestic spying). But I guess that’s what “moderates” do.

House

Homeland Security. The House defeated, 207-191, a bid by Democrats to add $750 million for Department of Homeland Security grants to cities at high risk of being attacked. The vote occurred during debate on the department's 2007 budget (HR 5441); the money would have been raised by scaling back tax cuts for the wealthy.

A yes vote was to block the amendment.

Voting yes: Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Michael G. Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), H. James Saxton (R., N.J.), Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.) and Curt Weldon (R., Pa.).

Voting no: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.) and Allyson Schwartz (D., Pa.).
Has it occurred to our illustrious 8th district rep Mikey Fitz that many of the residents whom he represents work in New York City?

Once more, here is food for thought on this one.

Sanctuary policies. Members voted, 218-179, to deny Department of Homeland Security funds to states or cities with a "sanctuary policy" under which illegal immigrants can report crimes without fear of being turned in to the U.S. government. The vote occurred during debate on HR 5441 (above).

A yes vote backed the denial of funds. (HR 5441)

Voting yes: Dent, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Pitts, Saxton and Smith.

Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Castle, Fattah and Schwartz.

Not voting: Weldon.
What fine “Christian” individuals people like Mikey Fitz and Chris Smith are for this vote! I hope I don’t sound too trite, but I would argue that this goes against the teachings of the church whose faith they purport to represent.

Also, I don’t ever want to hear anyone tell me that the Repug party is supposedly the party of “states rights” again because of votes like this (basically telling the states to change their policy on this by withholding funds). With BILLIONS going down the drain in tax giveaways to the wealthy and corporations, our august Repug congress is going to “pinch pennies” with measures such as this?

So basically, this will encourage crimes to be committed against illegals with impunity because they won’t be able to report them for fear of deportation.

What country am I living in again?

Refinery construction. The House passed, 238-179, and sent to the Senate a bill (HR 5254) expanding federal power to speed approval of federal and nonfederal permits for building oil refineries and pipelines.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Castle, Dent, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Pitts, Saxton, Smith and Weldon.

Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Fattah, Fitzpatrick and Schwartz.

Refinery alternative. The House defeated, 223-195, a Democratic alternative to HR 5254 (above) that sought to establish an Oil Refinery Reserve. The plan was to build government-run refineries that would be brought to full capacity during emergencies to stabilize commercial markets.

A yes vote was to establish an Oil Refinery Reserve.

Voting yes: Andrews, Brady, Fattah, Holden and Schwartz.

Voting no: Castle, Dent, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Pitts, Saxton, Smith and Weldon.
It sounds like this was a case of “dueling legislation” that broke along party lines. All I can determine about HR5254 was that there was some procedural modification to it last month, and that put it on a “fast track” for an up-and-down vote. Apparently, it involves some kind of modifications to the approval process that would allow the energy companies to build refineries faster in the hope of increasing supply to lower the price. The Democratic alternative sounded like it would have had a better shot at ensuring lower prices for gas for the vast majority of people in this country, which meant of course that the Repugs had to defeat it.

Broadcast indecency. The House passed, 379-35, and sent to President Bush a bill providing for a substantial increase in maximum Federal Communications Commission fines on broadcasters who air indecent material. The bill (S 193) does not define indecency; maximum fines will go from $32,500 to $325,000 per incident.

All Philadelphia-area representatives voted for the bill.
I’ve already commented on what a joke this legislation is.

Mine safety. The House passed, 381-37, and sent to President Bush a bill (S 2803) that sets new rules to give trapped coal miners a better chance of survival and increases financial penalties on operators who violate safety rules.

In part, the bill raises from one to two hours the required oxygen supply along escape routes; sets higher reliability standards for emergency oxygen packs; and gives companies three years to establish wireless underground-to-surface communications.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Brady, Castle, Dent, Fattah, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Pitts, Saxton, Schwartz, Smith and Weldon.

Voting no: Andrews.
I cannot possibly imagine why Rob Andrews voted no on this. I’ve done some checking and I haven’t been able to find anything on it yet. I also cannot imagine why it is necessary for the government to pass a law telling coal operators to do whatever they can to protect their people, which they should be doing anyway under the strictest possible penalties.

Internet services. The House passed, 321-101, and sent to the Senate a bill (HR 5252) enabling the Federal Communications Commission to supersede local authority in the award of franchises for delivering video, voice, broadband and other Internet services to the public.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Andrews, Castle, Dent, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Pitts, Saxton, Schwartz, Smith and Weldon.

Voting no: Brady, Fattah and Holden.
Here’s the deal on this: the Repugs want to allow the FCC to do all it can in an effort to totally kill any kind of local netroots political activity that primarily favors the Democrats, with Mikey Fitz and his fraud legislation to shut off MySpace to kids at schools and libraries leading the charge; this is but a part of that process. The argument we’re going to be hearing about this (and indeed, a commenter tried this last week) is that this will support faster downloads of online content. Don’t believe for a second that THAT is their goal. I only wish that Allyson Schwartz had realized that (and again, another mysterious vote by Rob Andrews).

As reported in the Inquirer, this week the House will take up 2007 spending bills, and the Senate will debate the 2007 defense budget. Both chambers plan final votes on a bill providing $94.5 billion for war and hurricane recovery.

3 comments:

Paul said...

Congress fails to understand that parents and individuals already have the TV ratings and content-blocking tools to make and enforce TV viewing decisions, both for their children and themselves. This makes government regulation of TV unnecessary and undesirable.

Moreover, the assault on creative artists' freedom of speech is an absolute outrage. TV shows like "All In The Family" and "Seinfeld" might never have been aired had this pack of FCC censors been in power during the '70's, '80's, and '90's.

Check out TV Watch, at www.televisionwatch.org, for a common-sense voice of reason in this debate.

doomsy said...

I'll take a look - thanks for the tip and the comment.

Paul said...

You're very welcome, Doomsy - have a great day!