Friday, October 05, 2007

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (10/5/07)

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.


Children's health care. The House passed, 265-159, and sent to the Senate a five-year renewal of the State Children's Health Insurance Program set to cost $60 billion, up $35 billion from current spending on the program designed mainly to insure needy youth not covered by Medicaid.

A yes vote was to pass HR 976.

Voting yes: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), 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.), Allyson Schwartz (D., Pa.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.) and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

Voting no: Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.) and H. James Saxton (R., N.J.).
And as noted here, Saxton was targeted immediately for this vote, as well he should be.

And I actually can’t think of a word to describe how truly pathetic Joe Pitts is for this vote – he's usually a joke, but this isn’t funny at all.

And the really sad part is that the bill didn’t pass with a veto-proof majority.

This tells you how the House voted (and by voting No, Dennis Kucinich immediately destroyed the shred of credibility he had with me).

Popcorn additive. The House passed, 260-154, and sent to the Senate a bill that would begin federal workplace regulation of the food additive diacetyl, which has been linked to lung diseases in some workers who handle microwave popcorn.
A yes vote was to pass HR 2693.

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

Voting no: Castle, Pitts.
I know this rap isn’t completely fair to the House (aimed more at the Senate), but how stupid does Congress look when it can pass a bill regulating a popcorn additive, but it can’t pass a bill to cut off funding for the Iraq war and start redeploying our people out of there?

Flood insurance. The House passed, 263-146, and sent to the Senate a bill to renew the National Flood Insurance Program and expand it by raising overall coverage limits and adding coverage for such categories as windstorm damage and business interruption.

A yes vote was to pass HR 3121.

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

Voting no: Castle and Pitts.
So in addition to organized labor, families, kids, the environment, our military and many, many other constituencies, Joe Pitts doesn’t like flood victims either (and I don’t know what’s going on with Mike Castle, but it seems like he’s completely gone over to “the dark side” as well).

God, I hope Lois Herr runs again in PA-16 for next year. If not, I hope someone lets me know who does.


Children's health care. The Senate passed, 67-29, the renewal and expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (HR 976, above). The bill now goes to President Bush, who has threatened to veto it.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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.).
At least it passed in the Senate with enough votes to survive the eventuality of the big red “X” that gets scrawled all over it from the veto crayon of President Brainless.

Partitioning Iraq. Senators endorsed, 75-23, a call to split Iraq into three self-governing regions - Kurdistan, in the north, a Sunni entity based in the west and a Shiite entity in the south. The nonbinding vote took place during debate of the 2008 defense budget (HR 1585), which remained in debate.

All Philadelphia-area senators voted for the partition proposal.

Iran policy. Senators adopted, 76-22, a call for "the prudent and calibrated use of all instruments of U.S. power" in confronting Iran. The nonbinding vote added the wording to HR 1585, above.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

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

Voting no: Biden.
This was the so-called Kyl-Lieberman amendment that provided something that could approximate a legal basis for an attack on Iran, just to let you know. As stated from this link, it officially designates Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization, subject to the 2002 Authorization To Use Force (with said authorization used to launch the Iraq war on March 19, 2003).

Such are the games our politicians play (especially the Repugs).

Sweet dreams, everyone.

One more thing: kudos to Joe Biden for recognizing this for what it is (for his other faults, I have to admit that he’s completely figured out Bushco’s neocon overseas agenda and all that is associated with it).

Update 10/7: As he does with so many other issues, John Edwards gets it on this one, though apparently (based on her vote) HRC didn't (or maybe didn't want to admit that she did).

Hate crimes. The Senate voted, 60-39, to expand the federal law against hate crimes to include offenses based on sexual orientation, gender or disability, as well as the existing categories of national origin, religion and race. The vote added the legislation to HR 1585, above.

All Philadelphia-area senators backed the amendment
This week, the House took up bills on overseas contracting fraud and mortgage-debt forgiveness, while the Senate continued to debate the 2008 defense budget and Iraq policy.

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