Friday, May 11, 2007

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (5/11/07)

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.

House

Bush Iraq veto. Voting 222-203, the House on Wednesday failed to reach a two-thirds majority for overriding President Bush's veto of a bill (HR 1591) that required the withdrawal of most U.S. troops from Iraq starting by Oct. 1. The bill, which set no mandatory date for completing the pullout, would appropriate about $100 billion for combat operations and other military purposes and nearly $25 billion for nonwar programs.

A yes vote was to override the veto.

Voting yes: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Patrick Murphy (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.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), H. James Saxton (R., N.J.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).
Typical Repug party-line bullshit (sorry for the bad word, but when it comes to the Iraq war, I can’t think of a better one).

Hate crimes prosecutions. Members voted Wednesday, 237-180, to expand the federal law against hate crimes to include offenses based on sexual orientation, gender or disability. The bill (HR 1592), which awaits Senate action, authorizes federal grants and law-enforcement resources to help state and local officials combat hate crimes. The law targets crimes of violence, not speech.

A yes vote was to expand the hate-crimes law.

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

Voting no: Pitts and Smith.

Not voting: Fattah
Once again, Joe Pitts emerges as an utter buffoon (so laughably easy to do the right thing here), and votes like this are the reason why I will always be wary of Chris Smith no matter how many favorable votes he may cast on behalf of our veterans (though he and his fellow Repug enablers have no trouble sentencing our current military to hell on earth for no good reason in Iraq, as we know).

Head Start renewal. The House on Wednesday approved, 365-48, a five-year renewal of the Head Start antipoverty program for children of ages 3 to 5 and the Early Head Start program for infants, toddlers and pregnant women.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

Voting no: Pitts.

Not voting: Brady and Fattah.
Add infants, toddlers, and pregnant women to the groups of Americans who will never receive any support whatsoever in this lifetime from Joe Pitts.

Religion-based hiring. Voting 195-222, the House on Wednesday refused to strip HR 1429 (above) of language that prohibits Head Start programs from using religion as a basis for hiring and firing staff members.

A yes vote backed religion-based Head Start hiring.

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

Voting no: Andrews, Holden, Murphy, Schwartz and Sestak.

Not voting: Brady and Fattah.
I’m sure, in some afterlife somewhere, Tom├ís de Torquemada is sighing in despair at this moment (you can read about him here – sounds like the Repugs want to “party like it’s 1498”).

Senate

Prescription drug imports. The Senate voted Thursday, 63-28, to advance a measure permitting U.S. citizens to import Food and Drug Administration- approved prescription drugs from countries such as Canada without interference from the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. This occurred during debate on a pending bill expanding FDA authority (S 1082).

A yes vote backed the amendment.

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

Not voting: Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D., Del.)
Interesting vote for Biden to miss, by the way.

And I’m going to “jump the gun” a bit into next week’s Area Votes in Congress writeup here and note that the Senate voted 93-1 this week to pass a bill to clean up the drug testing process as part of an effort to make the FDA get its collective act together (yet another government agency nearly ruined by Bushco).

The reason I’m noting this is that a casualty of the bill was the measure enabling consumers to buy drugs from foreign suppliers, and that is why Bennie Sanders of Vermont voted against it – God bless him.

I suppose I should blame Ted Kennedy for that, but I don’t. He needed a veto-proof majority in the event that President Stupid Head decided that he didn’t like this bill that straightens out the FDA in a number of ways, and eliminating this provision was the only way to get it (boy, for a guy who gave everything a free pass until now, Dubya seems to have that veto pen at the ready all the time). Kennedy said he would return to the issue of allowing us to buy drugs offshore, and I believe him.

This week, the House took up homeland security and intelligence budgets and a measure to fund local police hiring. And as I already pointed out, The Senate continued to debate expanded authority for the Food and Drug Administration.

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