Friday, June 19, 2009

Where The Rubber Meets The Road (6/19/09)

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.


Car, truck vouchers. Voting 298-119, the House passed a bill (HR 2751) enabling consumers to trade their car or truck for a government voucher worth $3,500 to $4,500 to be used to help buy or lease a new, more fuel-efficient vehicle - foreign or domestic. The exact value of the voucher would depend on the new vehicle's fuel efficiency. The government would destroy the traded-in vehicles. Congressional auditors predict the bill would spur 600,000 vehicle sales and leases. The bill is now before the Senate.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: John Adler (D., N.J.), Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), 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.).

Voting no: Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.).
Am I the only one who sees some humor in the fact that the only person who opposed a bill to encourage people to buy cars is named “Dent”?

This tells us that the voucher applies if your car gets 18 mpg or less; the Democratic Underground post also wonders how “Government Motors” came up with that figure (and, as I always say to people who think we’re “goin’ Socialist” or whatever, if the automakers and money geniuses hadn’t fracked up their companies so bad, then the “gov’mint” wouldn’t even be in the car business or owning AIG, Lehman, etc.).

And I’m sure you’re all breathlessly awaiting this week’s stupid “No” vote by Joe Pitts, wondering why this isn’t it. That will come later.

Foreign-affairs budget. Voting 235-187, the House authorized a $40.6 billion, two-year foreign-affairs budget (HR 2410) that would fund Department of State and Peace Corps operating expenses, a major expansion of the Foreign Service, and a broad range of U.S. non-military policies and programs overseas.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Adler, Andrews, Brady, Castle, Dent, Fattah, Holden, Murphy, and Schwartz.

Voting no: Gerlach, LoBiondo, Pitts and Smith.
David Waldman at Congress Matters tells us what’s going on with this bill here (I think what got the collective shorts of the Repugs all tied in a knot here, minus Castle and Dent, is the part about “meeting our financial commitments” to the U.N. – I should say, though, that as much as I don’t like Chris Smith, he tried to get some interesting stuff into this, and I mean that as a compliment).

I think it’s safe to say that, with this bill, the State Department will now have a higher profile under Obama, and will not be dismissed with the metaphorical back of the hand as the “department of nice” as they were during the dark Bushco days (that quote came from the utterly ignominious Doug Feith, by the way).

Aid to Pakistan. Voting 234-185, the House authorized $10.5 billion in U.S. economic and military aid to Pakistan through 2014. The bill (HR 1886) puts the Department of State in charge of the funding and sets benchmarks for Pakistan to meet. Now awaiting Senate action, the bill signals growing U.S. concern over the stability of Pakistan and its nuclear arsenal.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Adler, Andrews, Brady, Fattah, Holden, Murphy, Schwartz, and Sestak.

Voting no: Castle, Dent, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Pitts, and Smith.
Wow, funding Pakistan with actual oversight and benchmarks. What a concept (with more party-line Repug nonsense).

Tobacco regulation. Voting 307-97, the House gave final congressional approval to a bill (HR 1256) launching FDA regulation of tobacco products, with the cost to be paid by fees on tobacco manufacturers and importers.

A yes vote was to send the bill to President Obama.

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

Voting no: Pitts.

Not voting: Adler.
“Pancake Joe” does it again! And wasn’t it worth the wait?


Tobacco regulation. Voting 79-17, the Senate passed a bill (HR 1256) to begin federal regulation of tobacco products. Under the bill, the FDA would regulate cigarette ingredients; require public disclosure of those ingredients; restrain cigarette marketing to children; require health warnings to cover at least half of each side of a cigarette package, and require manufacturers to verify health claims.
A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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 (D., Pa.).
This week, the House took up fiscal 2010 appropriations bills, while the Senate debated a government apology to African Americans for slavery and segregation and a bill promoting foreign travel to the United States. Both chambers voted on a bill to fund war and foreign affairs through Sept. 30 (which passed, as noted in the prior post).

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