Friday, May 01, 2009

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (5/1/09)

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.


U.S. water policy. Members voted 413-10 to improve the work of the 20-plus agencies concerned with ensuring that the United States has adequate water supplies and clean drinking water.

A yes vote was to pass a bill (HR 1145) that creates a White House office to streamline and focus U.S. water policy.

Voting yes: John Adler (D., N.J.), 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.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).
As noted here (NY Times content), the sponsor was Dem Barton Gordon of Tennessee (and the 10 No votes were all Repugs – surprised?). Also, new EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has promised to work with congress to update the Clean Water Act, which has been weakened by two recent rulings of the Supreme Court of Hangin’ Judge JR (as the Times notes here – and as noted here, that court is about to lose a member in a move that wasn’t unexpected).

Community police funds. Members passed, 342-78, a bill (HR 1139) to expand the Clinton-era COPS program, which provides U.S. grants for the hiring of local police officers.

A yes vote was to authorize grants for purposes such as hiring prosecutors and helping schools fight drugs and gangs.

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

Voting no: Pitts.
No drugs, gangs, or police shortages in PA-16, I guess – how lucky can they get?


Ambassador to Iraq. Senators voted, 73-23, to confirm Christopher Hill as U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Backers praised his Foreign Service career of 32 years, while critics said he was not tough enough as the Bush administration's chief negotiator with North Korea.

A yes vote was to confirm Hill.

Voting yes: Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Ted Kaufman (D., Del.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), and Arlen Specter (R., but now a D., of course, of Pa.).
I always thought Hill was a good diplomat who got sold down the river by the Bushco regime, as noted here. Let’s see how he does under adult leadership for a change.

Whistleblower rewards. Senators refused, 31-61, to cap at $50 million the reward for whistle-blowers who use the False Claims Act to help the Treasury recover funds lost to fraud.

A yes vote on the bill (S 386) was to retain rules that allow successful plaintiffs to receive up to 30 percent of recovered U.S. funds.

Voting yes: Specter.

Voting no: Carper, Casey, Kaufman and Menendez.

Not voting: Lautenberg.
The amendment to cap the reward at $50 million was sponsored by Repug Jon Kyl of Arizona, as noted here, a pointless add-on in my opinion to an otherwise worthy piece of legislation (typical vote for a “Democrat” like Our Man Arlen).

This week, the House took up a bill to curb arbitrary practices by credit-card firms, while the Senate resumed debate on a bill to combat securities and home-mortgage fraud.

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