Friday, April 11, 2008

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (4/11/08)

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 (back from a brief hiatus)...


HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB. By a vote of 308-116, the House authorized spending $50 billion over five years for U.S. support of global programs to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. The bill discontinues a mandate that one-third of AIDS spending be allocated to abstinence programs.

A yes vote was to pass the bill (HR 5501).

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.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), Allyson Schwartz (D., Pa.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.) and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

Voting no: Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.) and Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.).
Abstinence programs don’t work anywhere, and certainly not in sub-Saharan Africa, so the logical move is to remove funding for one of Dubya’s pet projects (yet another in a long line of failures). Given that, you just knew Pancake Joe Pitts was going to nix that common sense idea, didn’t you?

And by the way, to help Bruce Slater, click here.

HIV/AIDS funding cut. By a vote of 175-248, the House refused to cut the spending authorization in HR 5501 (above) from $50 billion to $30 billion over five years.

A yes vote backed a 40 percent spending cut.

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

Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Fattah, Holden, Murphy, Schwartz, Sestak and Smith.
Typical petty, cheap Repugs and their one-upsmanship (and another gutsy vote by Chris Smith, realizing that trying to save lives in some of the most destitute places on earth is more important than partisan politics)…


Mortgage counseling. In a 44-40 vote, the Senate failed to reach the 60 votes needed to double funding in a House bill (HR 3221) for mortgage counseling by nonprofit agencies. The amendment sought to increase the outlay from $100 million to $200 million in order to extend counseling to an additional 250,000 holders of problem mortgages.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

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

Not voting: Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D., Del.) and Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.).
And just as a reminder, that “60 vote needed for passage” rule is needed because that is the vote total that prevents the automatic filibuster by the Repugs against any Senate action they don’t like (e.g., 60 votes weren’t needed to confirm Mukasey as AG). As a result, the Repugs have already set a record for filibusters in this, the 110th Congress.

And as the Repugs quibble about whether or not homeowners caught in the subprime mortgage debacle should get $100 million or $200 million for counseling, I would ask that you keep in mind that the Iraq war is costing about $411 million a day (here).

Subprime loans, bankruptcy. Voting 58-36, the Senate killed a measure that sought to give bankruptcy judges authority to change the terms of subprime mortgages on primary residences. The proposal, offered as an amendment to a housing-related bill being debated in the House (HR 3221), would have given the judges power to cut interest rates and principal to help borrowers keep their homes.

A yes vote was to kill the amendment.

Voting yes: Carper and Specter.

Voting no: Biden, Casey, Lautenberg and Menendez.
Here is more on HR 3221; if Carper has a spine, he’ll make it official and change parties to Republican at the end of this session (votes to increase funds for mortgage counseling, then votes against allowing a judge to restructure the terms so it can be paid off - unbelievable; and by the way, he voted for the Bankruptcy Bill, of course).

And as always, screw you, Arlen.

Gulf Coast aid. Voting 74-5, the Senate expanded HR 3221 (above) to include a projected $1 billion for homeowners suffering major losses in Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The amendment would fund grants of up to $150,000 designed to narrow the gap between insurance payments and home values.

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.

Voting yes: Biden, Carper, Casey and Menendez.

Not voting: Lautenberg and Specter.
And as we consider the question of $150,000 for homeowners suffering from Katrina and Rita, keep in mind – again – that the Iraq war is costing about $411 million a day (here - and the five cretins who actually voted against this were Jon Kyl, Judd Gregg, Jim DeMint, Bob Corker, and John Barrasso, from here – and I don’t need to mention their political party, do I?).

This week, the House took up a bill on ocean pollution near shorelines, while the Senate continued to debate a housing bill.

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