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Roll call

December 18, 2005|By Thomas Voting Reports

HOUSE



Torture policy



The House on Dec. 14 endorsed, 308 for and 122 against, Senate-passed language requiring the U.S. military to obey the United Nations Convention Against Torture ban on "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment," and to follow current Army Field Manual rules for humane treatment of prisoners. The United States is a signatory to the U.N. treaty. But the administration argues the pact does not apply to U.S. interrogations of enemy combatants conducted outside the United States. This nonbinding vote called for adding the language to the fiscal 2006 defense appropriations bill (HR 2863).

A yes vote was to ban U.S. torture.

Maryland



Roscoe Bartlett, R-6, yes

Pennsylvania



Bill Shuster, R-9, no

West Virginia



Shelley Moore Capito, R-2, yes

Permanent Patriot Act



The House on Dec. 14 approved, 251 for and 174 against, the conference report on a bill (HR 3199) renewing the USA Patriot Act and giving permanency to most of its major sections. Like the original law, the renewal expands the power of police and intelligence agencies to secretly watch, investigate and detain individuals suspected of terrorism and related activities, with less judicial review than existed before 9/11. Some sections of the act, including those authorizing roving wiretaps and secret searches of library, bookstore and business records, were made temporary for four years.

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In part, the Patriot Act expands police powers over phone, e-mail and Internet usage; permits secret, no-warrant searches of suspects' homes; allows extended jailing of noncitizens without the filing of charges; allows prosecutors to release secret grand jury testimony to intelligence agencies; treats those who conspire in terrorist crimes or harbor terrorists as severely as it does perpetrators; allows the FBI to issue subpoenas on a limited basis without prior court review; and makes it a federal crime to possess large quantities of biological agents or toxins.

A yes vote was to approve the conference report.

Maryland



Bartlett, no

Pennsylvania



Shuster, yes

West Virginia



Capito, yes

Democrats' alternative



Voting 202 for and 224 against, members on Dec. 14 defeated a Democratic alternative to HR 3199 that emphasized civil liberties over law enforcement in several key areas of the USA Patriot Act. Identical to a Senate-passed version of the bill, the alternative, in part, provided more protection of medical, business and library records and made it more difficult for the FBI to issue secret subpoenas known as "national security letters." The Democratic plan required the government to show that certain records sought by law enforcement were directly connected to suspected terrorists, not just "relevant" to the investigation.

A yes vote backed the Democratic plan.

Maryland



Bartlett, no

Pennsylvania



Shuster, no

West Virginia



Capito, no

Pension changes



Voting 294 for and 132 against, the House on June 15 passed a Republican bill (HR 2830) to shore up defined-benefit pension plans by requiring companies to fully fund their pension liabilities within seven years. Now headed to House-Senate conference, the bill also requires companies to pay higher premiums to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., the taxpayer-backed federal agency that insures defined-benefit pensions, but reports a $22.8 billion deficit against obligations. The bill also contains savings and employer-matching provisions to make defined-contribution plans, such as 401(k)s, a more attractive alternative to old-style defined-benefit plans.

While backers called the bill a step toward pension security, critics said the push for full funding would prompt many employers to terminate plans or enter bankruptcy. Critics also faulted the bill for ignoring airline bankruptcies and failing to bar companies from using bankruptcy to shirk pension obligations.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Maryland



Bartlett, yes

Pennsylvania



Shuster, yes

West Virginia



Capito, yes

New border fences



Members on Dec. 15 authorized, 260 for and 159 against, construction of five fences covering 698 miles of the United States border with Mexico in California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas. The amendment was added to a bill (HR 4437) to toughen law enforcement against illegal immigrants, a measure headed for final House passage before Congress adjourned for the year.

A yes vote backed new border fences.

Maryland



Bartlett, yes

Pennsylvania



Shuster, yes

West Virginia



Capito, yes

Illegal immigration



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