Area Votes in Congress

Posted: September 16, 2012

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

House

Government spy powers. Voting 301-118, the House on Wednesday sent the Senate a bill (HR 5949) to renew the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) through 2017. The law authorizes the National Security Agency to conduct surveillance without specific warrants of phone calls, e-mails, and other contacts between foreigners that pass through telecommunications switching points in the United States. Additionally, the bill authorizes a secret FISA court to issue blanket warrants for spying on communications between U.S. and foreign locations and continues the requirement that strictly domestic spying on Americans be authorized by the FISA court on a case-by-case basis.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., 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: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), and John Carney (D., Del.).

Six months' stopgap spending. Voting 329-91, the House on Thursday sent the Senate a measure (HJ Res 117) to fund the government for the first six months of fiscal 2013, through March 27, at an annual rate of $1.047 trillion, which is less than 1 percent above 2012 spending levels. The stopgap measure is necessary because Congress failed to enact any of the 12 regular appropriations bills for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

Budget control act, revisited. Voting 223-196, the House on Thursday passed a Republican bill (HR 6365) directing President Obama to send Congress specific spending cuts to replace $110 billion in blind, across-the-board cuts in military, foreign- affairs and domestic spending scheduled for January under the 2011 Budget Control Act.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

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

Democratic alternative. Voting 170-247, the House on Thursday defeated a Democratic alternative to HR 6365 (above) that sought to replace $110 billion in blind, across-the-board cuts next year with a combination of tax increases on the wealthy and targeted spending cuts. The alternative would enact the so-called "Buffett Rule," which sets a minimum tax rate of 30 percent on households with at least $1 million in income from salaries and/or investments. It also sought to extend Bush-era tax cuts for income under $250,000 while allowing them to expire on income above that threshold.

A yes vote backed the Democratic plan.

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

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

Clean-energy loan guarantees. Voting 245-161, the House on Friday sent the Senate a Republican bill (HR 6213) to end a Department of Energy program of loan guarantees to companies developing clean-energy technologies. The bill expressed criticism of Solyndra, a government-backed solar firm that went bankrupt, costing the Treasury $535 million. Democrats said the bill would recycle $34 billion in guarantees from clean-energy to nuclear and fossil-fuel energy companies.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

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

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

Senate

Veterans job corps.

Voting 84-8, the Senate on Wednesday began debate on a bill (S 3457) to establish a Veterans Jobs Corps at a deficit-neutral cost of $1 billion over five years. The bill is designed to help veterans who served on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001. One major section promotes hiring priority for veterans in police, firefighting, and other first-responder jobs on all levels of government. Another would establish jobs for veterans on public lands in areas such as conservation, historic preservation, forest restoration, and cemetery maintenance.

A yes vote was to advance the bill.

Voting yes: Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Chris Coons (D., Del.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), and Pat Toomey (R., Pa.).

This week. The House will take up a bill on work requirements for welfare recipients, while the Senate will debate a jobs bill for veterans and stopgap government funding.

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