Friday, September 14, 2007

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (9/14/07)

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.

(Yes, they're baaack after about a month or so, in which I hope the Dems got an earful from their constituents about caving to Dubya on FISA and the war – not sure why the Inquirer flipped the Senate and House results, but they did.)


Foreign affairs. Senators approved, 81-12, a $34.2 billion foreign affairs budget for 2008, up 8 percent from 2007. The bill, which now goes to conference with the House, would provide $17.3 billion in basic foreign aid, $5.1 billion for combatting HIV/AIDS, and $1.35 billion for U.N. peacekeeping missions.

A yes vote was to pass HR 2764.

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.).
Sounds like it’s “all good” here.

Abortion. The Senate voted, 53-41, to repeal the government's "Mexico City Policy," which bars American aid to any group overseas that performs or promotes abortions, even with its own money. The vote amended HR 2764, above.

A yes vote was to repeal the policy.

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

Not voting: Biden.
This is historic, and something the 109th Congress would never have allowed. The so-called “Mexico City Policy” is a Reagan-era gift to the anti-choice zealots in this country.

The bad news here is that I guarantee that Incurious George will veto this if it reaches his desk, and this isn’t enough of a “yes” margin to override that.

And this vote showed a measure of courage by Bob Casey, though he will “take a step back” shortly.

U.N. Population Fund. Senators voted, 48-45, to continue a Bush administration policy of denying U.S. aid to the U.N. Population Fund because it tolerates China's use of coerced abortions and sterilizations to limit population growth. The vote occurred during debate on HR 2764, above.

A yes vote backed the policy.

Voting yes: Casey.

Voting no: Carper, Lautenberg, Menendez and Specter.

Not voting: Biden.
Ugh…as noted here…

Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said the U.N. Population Fund is trying to give China alternatives to forced abortions and sterilizations. “If we agree to this amendment, then what we are saying is we will turn our backs on the most populous nation in the world,” he said.
So that’s just what we did, and Casey went along with it.

Budget director. Senators confirmed, 69-24, former Rep. Jim Nussle (R., Iowa) as director of the Office of Management and Budget. Nussle, 47, is a former chairman of the House Budget Committee.

A yes vote was to confirm Nussle.

Voting yes: Carper, Casey and Specter.

Voting no: Biden, Lautenberg and Menendez.
This is another mistake; as noted from the prior link…

Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., said: “President Bush needs a budget director who is willing to compromise with those of us in Congress who are fighting for the needs of working families and are not here to represent the wealthiest people in this country and the largest corporations. Unfortunately, there is nothing in former Congressman Jim Nussle’s background to suggest he is that person.”
Indeed – I got into the issues with Nussle a little while ago here.

Basically, though former OMB director Rob Portman was a loyal Bushie, he seemed to understand how to work with Congress. Unfortunately, Nussle is an ideological fellow traveler who doesn’t seem to even possess basic competence on budgetary matters…

During the six years he served as Chairman of the House Budget Committee, (Nussle) failed twice to reach agreement with the Senate on a joint resolution. A third agreement he forced on the Senate was so controversial that it barely cleared the House and was never called up for a vote in the Senate.

Nussle’s latest train wreck began a year ago when he failed to find any way to reach compromise with his Senate counterpart, Republican Judd Gregg of New Hampshire. As a result, the House and Senate proceeded through the appropriations process with two quite different sets of spending restraints—a fact that directly led to a near-total breakdown in the budget process, leaving the job of funding most of the federal government to the new Congress when it convened this past January.
Kind of makes you wonder how he received confirmation by such a wide margin (and those Vermonters sure are smart, aren’t they?). And I understand Specter's GOP fealty here - though I don't agree with it - but why would Casey cave again along with "Lieberdem extraordinaire" Carper?


Tribal housing. The House passed, 333-75, a bill to provide $2.2 billion between 2008 and 2012 for housing for American Indians living on tribal grounds.

A yes vote was to pass HR 2786.

Voting yes: Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), H. James Saxton (R., N.J.), Allyson Schwartz (D., Pa.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.) and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

Voting no: Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.).

Not voting: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.).
So just remember this, any Native Americans who may be reading this and also reside in PA’s 16th U.S. congressional district on tribal grounds; Joe Pitts doesn’t like you either (consider yourselves added to a looooooooong list.)

This week, the Senate debated fiscal 2008 budgets for the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development.

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