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Roll call

March 05, 2006|By Thomas Voting Reports

HOUSE



Food labeling, safety



On a procedural vote of 216 for and 197 against, the House on March 2 advanced a bill (HR 4167) to federalize and make uniform the food safety and labeling laws of the 50 states. By imposing federal standards, the bill would pre-empt state and local regulations that exceed those set by federal law. Backers said the bill would add much-needed nationwide uniformity to food handling and labeling, while opponents said it would leave consumers with food that is less safe and less healthy.

The bill awaits further House action.

A yes vote was to advance the bill.

Maryland

Roscoe Bartlett, R-6, yes

Pennsylvania

Bill Shuster, R-9, yes

West Virginia

Shelley Moore Capito, R-2, yes




SENATE



Permanent Patriot Act



The Senate on March 2 approved, 89 for and ten 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. Four 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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A yes vote was to approve the conference report.

Maryland

Paul Sarbanes, D, yes

Barbara Mikulski, D, yes

Pennsylvania

Arlen Specter, R, yes

Rick Santorum, R, yes

West Virginia

John Rockefeller, D, yes

Robert Byrd, D, no

Secret probes



Senators on March 1 sent the House, 95 for and four against, a bill (S 2271) to change the USA Patriot Act. In part, the bill gives libraries, medical offices, businesses and other targets of secret government subpoenas standing to challenge - in secret court proceedings - the "gag orders" that prevent them from discussing the investigations. The vote set the stage for final congressional approval by March 10 of a bill renewing the Patriot Act.

In part, S 2271 addresses concerns over the government's use of secret "Section 215" subpoenas for obtaining customer records from entities such as libraries, bookstores and businesses. The bill also addresses the National Security Letters that enable the FBI to conduct secret, warrantless searches of private property. In both areas, the bill enables recipients to challenge gag orders, but requires them to clear the high hurdle of proving "bad faith" by the government. The bill drops the present requirement that targets of probes disclose their attorneys' names to the government.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Maryland

Sarbanes, yes

Mikulski, yes

Pennsylvania

Specter, yes

Santorum, yes

West Virginia

Rockefeller, yes

Byrd, no




Home-heating aid



Senators on March 2 voted, 66 for and 31 against, to increase federal home-heating aid by $1 billion in fiscal 2006, with the new spending added to the 2006 deficit. The vote advanced a bill (S 2320) that would raise total spending this year for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to nearly $3 billion.

LIHEAP helps the poor pay their heating and cooling bills. The issue is now before the House.

A yes vote was to increase LIHEAP spending.

Maryland

Sarbanes, yes

Mikulski, yes

Pennsylvania

Specter, yes

Santorum, yes

West Virginia

Byrd, yes

Rockefeller, yes




Key Votes Ahead



In the week of March 6, the House will vote on renewing the USA Patriot Act and federalizing the states' food labeling and safety regulations. The Senate will debate an overhaul of immigration laws.

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