Thursday, September 18, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Area Votes in Congress

WASHINGTON - The Senate was in recess last week. Here's how area House members voted on major issues:


Fiscal 2015 Commerce, Justice, science budget. By a vote of 321-87, the House on Thursday approved a bill (HR 4660) to appropriate $51.2 billion in fiscal 2015 for the Departments of Commerce and Justice and science agencies such as NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

Voting yes: Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), John Carney (D., Del.), Matt Cartwright (D., Pa.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Michael Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Pat Meehan (R., Pa.), Jon Runyan (R., N.J.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

Voting no: Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.).

Background checks on gun sales. Voting 260-145, the House on Thursday increased from $58.5 million to $78 million the spending in HR 4660 (above) to help states increase their supply of information on felons and the mentally ill to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System for gun purchases.

Federally licensed gun dealers are required to use the NICS to conduct criminal and mental-health checks on prospective buyers. But an estimated 40 percent of sales, including Internet sales and transactions between private parties at gun shows, are exempted from mandatory background checks.

A yes vote was to boost funding by one-third for the NICS.

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

States' rights, medical marijuana. Voting 219-189, the House on Friday adopted an amendment to HR 4660 (above) that would prohibit federal law enforcement authorities from interfering with the administration of state medical-marijuana laws. Marijuana possession, cultivation, and distribution are prosecuted as criminal offenses under federal law. But at least 26 states and the District of Columbia allow the drug to be used legally for medicinal purposes, and two states have legalized it for recreational use as well.

A yes vote was to bar federal intervention in the administration of state marijuana laws.

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

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

Legal Services Corporation. Voting 116-290, the House on Thursday defeated an amendment to abolish the Legal Services Corporation by eliminating its $350 million budget from HR 4660 (above). With 800 offices nationwide, the LSC provides free legal representation on an as-available basis to individuals and families with incomes below 125 percent of the federal poverty level. The LSC's proposed $350 million budget for next year is $90 million below its fiscal 2010 budget.

Fattah said: "Last year alone, Legal Services helped 41,000 veterans who were facing foreclosure and had other challenges related to disability claims."

A yes vote was to eliminate the LSC.

Voting yes: Pitts.

Voting no: Brady, Carney, Cartwright, Dent, Fattah, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Meehan, Runyan, Schwartz, and Smith.

2014-15 intelligence budgets. Voting 345-59, the House on Friday authorized fiscal 2014-15 budgets (HR 4681) estimated at $80 billion annually for the 16 U.S. civilian and military intelligence agencies. The actual budget figures are classified.

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

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

Not voting: Fattah.

This week. The Senate will vote on judicial and executive-branch nominations, including that of Sylvia Mathews Burwell to become secretary of Health and Human Services. The House is in recess all week.

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