Area Votes in Congress

Posted: May 29, 2011

WASHINGTON - Here is how Philadelphia-area members of Congress voted on major issues last week:

House

2012 military budget. Voting 322-96, the House authorized a $690 billion military budget for fiscal 2012, up $10 billion, or nearly 2 percent, from the comparable 2011 figure. The bill (HR 1540) sets a 1.6 percent military pay raise while authorizing $119 billion for war in Iraq and Afghanistan and $52.5 billion for the military's TRICARE health program.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), John Carney (D., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Michael Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Pat Meehan (R., Pa.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), Jon Runyan (R., N.J.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

Voting no: Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.).

Afghanistan withdrawal. Voting 204-215, the House defeated an amendment to HR 1540 (above) setting a quicker pace for President Obama to draw down the 100,000 U.S. troops now in Afghanistan. This was the first congressional vote on Afghanistan since the death of Osama bin Laden. The amendment gave Obama 60 days to improve upon his existing plan, under which he is to start removing troops in July with no projected completion date. The amendment would require the president to set a date for ending the withdrawal and report to Congress every 90 days on his progress toward that goal.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Voting yes: Andrews, Brady, Carney, Fattah, Holden, Schwartz, and Smith.

Voting no: Dent, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Meehan, Pitts, and Runyan.

Combat-pay increase. Voting 185-233, the House defeated a bid by Democrats to increase the existing pay bonus for U.S. troops "under hostile fire" or "in imminent danger" from $225 to $325 per month. That was to be in addition to the 1.6 percent pay raise already in the bill for uniformed personnel. The vote occurred during debate on HR 1540 (above).

A yes vote backed higher combat pay.

Voting yes: Andrews, Brady, Carney, Fattah, Holden, and Schwartz.

Voting no: Dent, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Meehan, Pitts, Runyan, and Smith.

USA Patriot Act. Voting 250-153, the House sent President Obama a bill (S 990) to extend until June 2015 the three sections of the USA Patriot Act that are not permanent law. One section authorizes roving wiretaps on the communications gear used by terrorist suspects. Another permits surveillance of noncitizen "lone-wolf" suspects not linked to terrorist organizations. Under the third, Section 215, investigators can obtain warrants for searching businesses and other entities without having to show probable cause. The USA Patriot Act was enacted in response to the 9/11 attacks.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Andrews, Carney, Dent, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Meehan, Pitts, Runyan, Schwartz, and Smith.

Voting no: Brady, Fattah, and Fitzpatrick.

Primary-care physicians, dentists. Voting 234-185, the House passed a Republican bill (HR 1216) to scale back a program in the 2010 health law designed to train thousands of primary-care physicians and dentists for work in underserved communities. The Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program is now being funded by $230 million over five years in mandatory spending.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Dent, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Pitts, Runyan, and Smith.

Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Carney, Fattah, Holden, Meehan, and Schwartz.

Senate

USA Patriot Act. Voting 72-23, the Senate sent the House a bill (S 990, above) renewing three sections of the USA Patriot Act until June 2015. The sections permit roving wiretaps on noncitizen terrorist suspects on American soil, authorize surveillance of "lone-wolf" suspects not linked to terrorist organizations, and allow government access to business records and other files without having to show probable cause.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Bob Casey (D., Pa.), and Pat Toomey (R., Pa.).

Voting no: Chris Coons (D., Del.) and Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.).

Not voting: Robert Menendez (D., N.J.).

Suspicious banking activity. Voting 91-4, the Senate tabled (killed) a bid to soften the requirement in the USA Patriot Act (S 990, above) that banks notify the Department of the Treasury of any suspicious activity in their accounts. Under the amendment, banks would submit what are known as suspicious activity reports only when asked to do so by law enforcement.

A yes vote was to kill the amendment.

Voting yes: Carper, Casey, Coons, Lautenberg, and Toomey.

Not voting: Menendez.

Paul Ryan's budget. Voting 40-57, the Senate defeated a Republican budget (H Con Res 34) for 2012 and later years that was identical to one passed in April by the House. Written by Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), the budget would, over time, privatize Medicare, raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67, convert Medicaid to a block-grant program run by the states, permanently extend Bush-era tax cuts, reduce discretionary spending for domestic programs by more than 20 percent, increase the basic defense budget by 15 percent, and keep Social Security as it is, among other provisions.

A yes vote backed the Ryan budget.

Voting yes: Toomey.

Voting no: Carper, Casey, Coons, Lautenberg, and Menendez.

President Obama's budget. By a vote of 0-97, the Senate unanimously defeated President Obama's proposed budget for fiscal 2012 and later years, a document (S Con Res 18) that proposes no structural reforms of Medicare, Social Security, or other entitlement programs. For 2012, the president calls for overall spending of $3.73 trillion, a deficit of $1.3 trillion, a slight drop in military spending, and major spending increases for education, energy efficiency, biomedical research and high-speed rail.

Voting no: Carper, Casey, Coons, Lautenberg, Menendez, and Toomey.

This week. The House is likely to vote on raising the national-debt ceiling, and the Senate will be in Memorial Day recess. The House will take its Memorial Day recess the week after.

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