Thursday, August 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Area Votes in Congress

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

House

Separation-of-powers dispute. Voting 233-181, the House on Wednesday passed a Republican bill (HR 4138) empowering one chamber of Congress to file civil actions compelling the executive branch to "faithfully execute" the law. The bill would codify a Republican narrative that several of President Obama's executive orders and administrative actions - in areas such as health care, immigration, and same-sex marriage - have gone well beyond what Congress authorized.

Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.) called the bill "an effective legislative response to a series of unilateral actions by the president in the last few years to selectively apply, enforce and ignore duly-enacted laws."

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate, where it is expected to die.

Voting yes: Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Michael Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), Gerlach, Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Pat Meehan (R., Pa.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), Jon Runyan (R., N.J.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

Voting no: Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), John Carney (D., Del.), Matt Cartwright (D., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), and Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.).

Extended jobless benefits. Voting 187-228, the House on Wednesday defeated a Democratic bid to expand HR 4138 (above) so that it also restores jobless checks for about 1.5 million of the long-term unemployed whose eligibility for extended benefits expired Dec. 28.

A yes vote was to revive benefits that Republicans say must be paid for elsewhere in the budget.

Voting yes: Brady, Carney, Cartwright, Fattah, and Schwartz.

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

Delay of individual mandate. Voting 238-181, the House on Friday passed a Republican bill (HR 4015) to delay the Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual mandate for five years and use $138 billion of the resulting savings to pay doctors for their treatment of Medicare patients. The bill would repeal Medicare's so-called Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula while giving Congress time to replace it with a more effective Medicare reimbursement policy.

A yes vote was to reform Medicare-reimbursement policies while gutting the 2010 health law.

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

Voting no: Brady, Carney, Cartwright, Fattah, and Schwartz.

Ban on Medicare vouchers. The House on Friday defeated, 191-226, a motion by Democrats to keep Medicare from being converted to a voucher program under HR 4015 (above). Although the bill has no voucher language, the current House-passed Republican budget would reach balance by fiscal 2023 through steps such as voucherizing Medicare.

Pitts asked: "Are you for saving Medicare or will you vote to let it go bankrupt? What kind of a country are we living in when our own government has reduced the American dream to a choice between health care and groceries?"

A yes vote was in opposition to changing Medicare to a voucher program.

Voting yes: Brady, Carney, Cartwright, Fattah, and Schwartz.

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

Senate

Sexual misconduct in the military. Voting 97-0, the Senate on Monday passed a bill (S 1917) to keep prosecutorial decisions in military sexual-assault cases in the chain of command while giving the armed services more tools for preventing or responding to the estimated 26,000 acts of sexual misconduct each year against U.S. troops.

A yes vote was to send the bill to the House, where its prospects are uncertain.

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

Child care and development. Voting 96-2, the Senate on Thursday passed a bipartisan bill (S 1086) to renew the Child Care and Development Block Grant law at an average annual cost of $2.62 billion between fiscal 2015 and 2019. Enacted in 1990 during the administration of President George H.W. Bush, the law authorizes programs for children from low-income families in after-school hours while their parents are at work.

A yes vote was to send the bill to the House, where its prospects are uncertain.

Voting yes: Booker, Carper, Casey, Coons, Menendez, and Toomey.

Flood-insurance premiums. Voting 72-22, the Senate on Thursday passed a bill (HR 3370) to cap National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) premium increases at 18 percent per year per property.

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

Voting yes: Booker, Casey, Coons, Menendez, and Toomey.

Voting no: Carper.

This week. Congress is in recess. In the following week, both chambers will debate sanctions on Russia and financial aid to Ukraine, while the Senate will take up a bill to provide jobless aid to the long-term unemployed.

VOTERAMA IN CONGRESS
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