Thursday, April 05, 2007

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (4/5/07)

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.


Federal budget. The House approved, 216-210, a five-year Democratic budget (HCR 99) that for 2008 projects $2.9 trillion in spending, a $213 billion deficit, increased domestic spending, and full funding of President Bush's defense budget.
A yes vote was to pass the budget.

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

Voting no: Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), H. James Saxton (R., N.J.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).
Patrick Murphy’s No vote, of course, was the big news last week in these parts. He believed that this budget was still too much of a giveway and that the House had to do more to get its fiscal act together, so to speak. I give him credit for this (I believe there’s a Courier Times link out there somewhere quoting him on this, but I can’t track it down at the moment).

And by the way, as you can see from the vote total, this wasn’t a situation like the ones we encountered during the infamous 109th Congress where Mikey Fitzpatrick would cast a vote against the Repugs to look “independent” while the vote total came out substantially in favor of the legislation anyway. This bill could have easily failed to pass.

I don’t see eye to eye with the “Blue Dog” democrats on some issues (Patrick being a member of that coalition, let’s not forget), but on the budget, I am absolutely on their side in this case.

Also, for more information, Thomas Schatz of Citizens Against Government Waste wrote a column that appeared in the New York Times earlier this week, and though I disagree with a few of his designations of “pork” expenditures (Low Income Home Energy Assistance and TSA funding for an explosives detection system are OK by me), I think this is still interesting reading.

U.S. attorneys. The House passed, 329-78, and sent to President Bush a measure that repeals a USA Patriot Act provision used by the administration to appoint U.S. attorneys without Senate confirmation. The bill (HR 580) closes a loophole central to the ongoing dispute over the administration's firing of U.S. attorneys.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Andrews, Castle, Dent, Fattah, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Murphy, Pitts, Saxton, Schwartz, Sestak and Smith.

Not voting: Brady.
The news to me here is that Joe Pitts actually voted yes.

Soldiers' treatment. The House passed, 426-0, and sent to the Senate a bill (HR 1538) to require the military to improve its care of the wounded by steps such as upgrading outpatient treatment, cutting red tape, and easing patients' transition from Pentagon control to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

All Philadelphia-area representatives voted for the bill except Fattah, who did not vote.
Probably still too busy trying to weasel out of making his financial statements public because his wife is a T.V. anchor and he's running for mayor of Philadelphia (try making sense of that one – I can’t).

Transportation security. The House passed, 299-124, a bill authorizing $7.3 billion over four years mainly for grants to protect mass-transit and inter-city rail and bus systems from terrorist attacks. The bill (HR 1401) now goes to conference with the Senate.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Brady, Castle, Dent, Fattah, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Murphy, Saxton, Schwartz, Sestak and Smith.

Voting no: Pitts.

Not voting: Andrews.
I guess, in a perverse way, it’s good to see Pitts return to form. I was getting scared for a minute.


War funding, withdrawal. The Senate passed, 51-47, a bill to appropriate $96 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan over six months, $4.3 billion for veterans' care, and $19 billion for domestic programs. The bill (HR 1591) requires the administration to begin U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq within four months of enactment and sets a nonbinding target of March 31, 2008, for redeploying all but a residual force. It now goes to conference with the House.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D., Del.), Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.) and Robert Menendez (D., N.J.).

Voting no: Arlen Specter (R., Pa.).
Screw you, Arlen.

Farm aid. Senators refused, 74-23, to strip HR 1591 (above) of nonemergency farm spending while keeping $3.7 billion in the bill for emergency crop and livestock aid.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Voting yes: Carper.

Voting no: Biden, Casey, Lautenberg, Menendez and Santorum.
(Uh, Inky, don’t you mean Specter? Little Ricky isn’t in the Senate anymore…smirk).

I’ll try to track down Willie Nelson and ask him to call Carper. Does Delaware’s Lieberman wannabe hate our farmers or something? Why the hell would Carper vote for an amendment to a bill sponsored by Repug Tom Coburn of Oklahoma anyway?

The Senate is now in recess until April 11, and the House until April 16.

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