Friday, May 23, 2008

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (5/23/08)

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.


Farm bill. Members passed, 318-106, the conference report on a five-year, $289 billion farm bill renewing subsidies for major crops while funding nutrition, conservation programs.

A yes vote was to pass HR 2419.

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 Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), and Joe Sestak (D., Pa.).

Voting no: Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Charles W. Dent (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.).

Not voting: Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.).
Is there too much fat in the farm bill? Probably (I'm not an expert in that area), but as noted here (echoing the Inky a bit)…

About two-thirds of the bill would pay for domestic nutrition programs such as food stamps and emergency food aid for the needy. An additional $40 billion is for farm subsidies, while almost $30 billion would go to farmers to idle their land and to other environmental programs.
And as far as Bushco crying about how much it costs (and what’s the latest tab on the Iraq war, by the way?)…

Congressional negotiators met for weeks in an effort to come closer to the White House on the amount of money to be paid to wealthy farmers -- one of the chief sticking points with the administration. But drastic cuts to subsidies were not possible, lawmakers said, because of the clout of Southern lawmakers who represent rice and cotton farms that are more expensive to run.

"This bill has reform in it," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "Could we have done more? Perhaps. But if we'd done more we wouldn't have gotten a bill."

The legislation would make small cuts to direct payments that are distributed to some farmers no matter how much they grow. The farm bill also would eliminate some federal payments to individuals with more than $750,000 in annual farm income - or married farmers who make more than $1.5 million.

Individuals who make more than $500,000 or couples who make more than $1 million jointly in nonfarm income also would not be eligible for subsidies.
And as the CNNMoney story notes, this is only the second bill to survive a veto from President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History (a water projects bill was the other).

And apparently, there was a minor snafu related to the House override vote, as noted in this Kagro X post that is positively dripping with snark (Captain Suntan – love it!).

Strategic oil reserve. Members voted, 385-25, to require the administration to stop filling the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for the rest of the year or until the price of crude oil drops below $75 a barrel.

A yes vote was to pass HR 6022.

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

Not voting: Andrews and Gerlach.
Not much to think about here.

New GI Bill. Members established, 256-166, a GI Bill to pay post-9/11 veterans' college costs and use tax hikes on individual incomes over $500,000 and joint incomes over $1 million to pay for the program.

A yes vote was to also approve new domestic spending measures (HR 2642).

Voting yes: Andrews, Brady, Castle, Dent, Fattah, Holden, LoBiondo, Murphy, Schwartz, Sestak, Smith.

Voting no: Pitts, Saxton.

Not voting: Gerlach
This is the House companion bill introduced by Dem Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia to S22 introduced by Jim Webb, as noted here (which Dubya and John W. McBush refuse to support, of course).

And apparently, Pancake Joe Pitts also believes that those who have devoted 3-6 years of their lives to serving our country deserve nothing beyond the insufficient status quo, as noted here (and to help Bruce Slater, click here).

War funding. Members defeated, 141-149, an amendment to HR 2642 that sought to appropriate $162.5 billion for additional war costs in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many GOP members sat out the vote to protest being frozen out of deliberations.

A yes vote was to approve the war funding.

Voting yes: Castle, Dent, Holden, LoBiondo, Schwartz, and Sestak.

Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Fattah, and Murphy.

Voting present: Pitts, Saxton, and Smith.

Not voting: Gerlach.
Yep, this was the little parliamentary game that the Repugs played in the wake of their congressional loss in Mississippi, deciding to sink the war funding bill without having the intestinal fortitude to oppose it, as noted here from last week.


Farm bill. The Senate voted, 81-15, to join the House in passing a five-year farm bill renewing subsidies for growers of major crops.

A yes vote was to pass the bill (HR 2419).

Voting yes: Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D., Del.), Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.) and Arlen Specter (R., Pa.).
Again, this was hardly perfect legislation, but our elected men and women in Congress are keenly aware of their fate if they oppose it (including Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao, as noted here).

Strategic oil reserve. Senators voted, 97-1, to join the House in requiring the administration to suspend its filling of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve until the end of the year or when crude oil drops below $75 a barrel for 90 days.

A yes vote backed the requirement (S 2284).

Voting yes: Biden, Carper, Casey, Menendez, Lautenberg, and Specter.
By the way, as noted here, the departing Colorado wingnut Wayne Allard was the only “No” vote (just out of curiosity).

This week, the House was scheduled to take up the 2009 defense budget.


madame voltaire said...

It is always enlightening to read the roll call on votes because I find the votes often do not match the rhetoric coming from their mouths.
What irks me greatly are those who do not vote.
In a representative government those elected are empowered to vote on our behalf, to vote in the best interest of the country and all its citizens. Regardless of the constituency, one vote affects all the citizens, and a vote not cast is an absence of representation.
They get paid very well to do the job, not showing up for votes or being there and not voting is not acceptable.

doomsy said...

I absolutely agree - thanks for checking in.