Friday, October 06, 2006

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (10/06)

As reported in last Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer, here is how Philadelphia-area members of Congress were recorded on major roll-call votes last week.

(It was a really, REALLY bad week, boys and girls…)


Intelligence findings. The House defeated, 217-171, a Democratic motion for a closed House session to consider a new National Intelligence Estimate that concludes U.S. involvement in Iraq has helped fuel the spread of global terrorism.

A yes vote backed the motion.

Voting yes: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.) and Allyson Schwartz (D., Pa.).

Voting no: Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Michael G. Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), H. James Saxton (R., N.J.) and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).
Straight party-line B.S. from the Repugs on the most important issue facing this country (and here's more from Frank Rich - hat tip to The Unknown Candidate).

Not voting: Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) and Curt Weldon (R., Pa.). Castle missed all votes last week because he is recovering from two minor strokes; he was released from Christiana Hospital in Newark on Wednesday.
I’d heard about this – our prayers and best wishes go out to Rep. Castle for a full recovery (and this is a hell of a vote for Crazy Curt to miss).

Interrogation rules. The House passed, 253-168, and sent to the Senate a bill that sets rules for interrogating terrorism suspects and trying them before military panels. The bill (HR 6166) affirms the Geneva Conventions but allows broad presidential leeway to determine interrogation techniques.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

Voting no: Brady, Fattah and Schwartz.
Along with just about every left wing blogger in the known world, I posted on this here and here last week (and Molly Ivins also had a good commentary on this).

Domestic spying. The House passed, 232-191, and sent to the Senate a bill to codify the administration's program of domestic eavesdropping without Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants. The bill (HR 5825) would permit spying on terrorism suspects in the United States for 90 days without FISA warrants.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Fattah, Holden and Schwartz.
The bill also permitted spying on American citizens who, in all probability, have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism or ever would, by the way.

Surveillance limits. The House rejected, 221-202, an alternative to HR 5825 (above) that sought a seven-day rather than 90-day limit on domestic eavesdropping without court warrants.

A yes vote backed a stricter limit on warrantless spying on terrorism suspects in the United States.

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

Voting no: Dent, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Pitts, Saxton, Smith and Weldon.
As far as the Repugs are concerned, they can do a hell of a lot more data mining to determine our medical histories, ancestries and party affiliations, among other information, in 90 days than they can in seven.

Minors' abortions. The House passed, 264-153, and sent to the Senate a bill (S 403) that would make it a federal crime to transport a minor across state lines for an abortion to evade a parental notification law in her home state, except when the abortion is necessary to save her life.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Fattah and Schwartz.
I’m sure the Dobsonites were smiling over this; I commented that, as a parent, I definitely would want to know about what my son or daughter were up to in a situation like this, but I don’t consider this a common-sense counterbalance to the draconian anti-choice laws in other states that have passed or are being argued or contemplated at this moment (but just remember, the Dems are the party of “big government,” not the Repugs…).

And another interesting "yes" vote for Tim Holden, by the way...

Religion lawsuits. The House passed, 244-173, and sent to the Senate a bill (HR 2679) that would prohibit courts from reimbursing the legal costs of plaintiffs who prevail in lawsuits against governments over taxpayer-funded religious displays, such as Nativity scenes.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Fattah, Holden and Schwartz.
Typically gutless, mean-spirited Repug crap here…what possible purpose could a bill like this serve except to poke a finger in the eye, metaphorically speaking, at anyone who may have a legitimate grievance about whether or not the separation of church and state is observed in our government?

I hereby make a prediction: one day, a court will rule this bill (assuming it is ever signed into law) to be unconstitutional.

Defense spending. The House approved, 394-22, the conference report on a bill (HR 5631) appropriating nearly $448 billion for the Department of Defense in fiscal 2007, including $70 billion for at least six months' actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Senate later approved the bill, 100-0, sending it to President Bush.

All Philadelphia-area representatives and senators voted for the bill, except Castle, who did not vote.


Tribunals, interrogations. The Senate passed, 65-34, a bill setting rules for the imprisonment and trial of individuals regarded as U.S. enemies in the fight against terrorism. The bill (S 3930) was nearly identical to HR 6166 (above), and a combined measure was sent to President Bush for his signature.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), Rick Santorum (R., Pa.) and Arlen Specter (R., Pa.).

Voting no: Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D., Del.).
Kudos to Biden for standing tall, and Carper wimps out as usual…I know this vote will help Menendez on balance in his fight against Baby Kean, but this was not a distinguished moment at all for Frank Lautenberg.

Terrorism suspects. The Senate rejected, 54-43, a bill proposed by the Armed Services Committee on the treatment of "enemy combatants." In part, the committee bill required strict adherence to the Geneva Conventions, prohibited prisoner abuse and included the right of suspects to examine and respond to all evidence presented against them. This vote made way for passage of a bill (S 3930, above) backed by the administration that authorized harsher treatment and fewer rights for terrorism suspects.

A yes vote backed the committee bill.

Voting yes: Biden, Carper, Lautenberg and Menendez.

Voting no: Santorum and Specter.
As of this vote, I don’t ever want to hear again about how Arlen Specter is a “moderate.” In his latest two-step, he supported the habeas corpus rights of prisoners (see below), but when the proposal was rejected, he voted for this travesty anyway, marching in party lockstep as usual. He showed all of the strength and toughness of a bowl of overcooked vermicelli on this one.

Habeas corpus. The Senate rejected, 51-48, a proposal to establish habeas corpus rights for prisoners in S 3930 (above). This vote affirmed the bill's stripping federal courts of habeas corpus jurisdiction in terrorism prisoners' cases.

A yes vote backed the habeas corpus right for terrorism suspects.

Voting yes: Biden, Carper, Lautenberg, Menendez and Specter.

Voting no: Santorum.
Votes like this are the reason why Little Ricky is losing to Mr. Casey Jr.

Ahead. Congress is in recess until Nov. 13.

For information on how to contact your member of Congress, go
What you have just read is the transcript of one of the most inglorious weeks in U.S. Congressional history, roughly approximating Dubya’s heinous 2003 State Of The Union address in terms of the damage it has wrought to our republic.

Though this does not quite mark the conclusion of the 109th Congress, it marks the end of major legislation given the distinct possibility that this body will be recomposed for the legislative session beginning next January.

And after watching this circus unfold for the last few months, I can think of no reason whatsoever why all of us should not do everything in our power to replace those responsible on November 7th.

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