National votes

February 04, 2008|By Thomas Voting Reports

WASHINGTON - Here's how area members of Congress voted on major roll call votes in the week ending Feb. 1.


$146 billion economic stimulus

Voting 385 for and 35 against, the House on Jan. 29 passed a $146 billion anti-recession package (HR 5140) would provide $100 billion within months in rebates to 117 million U.S. households that file federal income tax returns. The bill also would provide $46 billion in one-time tax breaks for businesses and, to boost housing, it nearly would double the maximum value of loans eligible for backing by the Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The bill, which awaits Senate action, excludes the 22 million households that do not file income tax returns.

The bill would provide rebates of $300 per individual, or $600 per couple, to filers with at least $3,000 in earned income who pay no income tax. For those paying taxes, it would deliver rebates of $600 to individuals earning up to $75,000 and $1,200 to couples earning up to $150,000. Singles earning between $75,000 and $93,000 and couples earning between $150,000 and $186,000 would receive rebates phased down from either the $600 or $1,200 level. All tax filers would receive an additional rebate of $300 per dependent child.


A yes vote was to pass the bill.


Roscoe Bartlett, R-6, yes


Bill Shuster, R-9, yes

West Virginia

Shelley Moore Capito, R-2, yes


Intelligence committee bill

Voting 48 for and 45 against, the Senate on Jan. 28 failed to reach 60 votes for advancing a bill (S 2248) drafted by the Senate Intelligence Committee to modernize the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Democrats generally voted against this Republican cloture motion because its approval would have denied them the opportunity to offer amendments aimed, in part, at increasing court review of executive-branch surveillance and adding protections for innocent Americans whose phone calls and e-mails are captured in the bulk collection of foreign intelligence.

The bill, which remains in debate, would expand FISA beyond its original domestic focus to address U.S. government spying on electronic communications in which at least one party is overseas. Surveillance of foreign targets has been under way on a large scale since 9/11, but without permanent statutory rules for balancing national security objectives with constitutional privacy rights.

Under the bill, the government could legally conduct warrantless surveillance on strictly foreign communications passing through U.S. switching points, with requirements that it take steps to expunge information on innocent Americans. Additionally, the bill would authorize FISA court judges to issue blanket, nonindividualized warrants on communications between U.S. and foreign locations in which the foreign participant is suspected of terrorist links.

A yes vote was to advance the bill without amendments.


Barbara Mikulski, D, no

Benjamin Cardin, D, no


Arlen Specter, R, no

Robert Casey Jr., D, no

West Virginia

Robert Byrd, D, no

John Rockefeller, D, no

Short-term FISA extension

Voting 48 for and 45 against, the Senate on Jan. 28 failed to reach 60 votes for advancing a proposed 30-day extension of a 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) update enacted Aug. 5, 2007. The Senate and House later used nonrecord votes to extend that temporary law until Feb. 15. Congress will use the time to seek agreement on a long-term FISA extension.

A Senate measure (S 2248) to extend the law for six years has been delayed by a dispute over whether to grant certain telecom firms retroactive immunity against invasion-of-privacy suits stemming from their participation in the administration's warrantless surveillance program. A long-term House bill, passed last November, would give federal judges a stronger role than the executive branch in authorizing electronic spying under FISA, among other provisions.

A yes vote backed a short-term FISA extension.


Mikulski, yes

Cardin, yes


Specter, no

Casey, yes

West Virginia

Byrd, yes

Rockefeller, yes

Key votes ahead

In the week of Feb. 4, the House will address the rising cost of higher education. The Senate, and possibly the House, will conduct votes on economic-stimulus bills, and the Senate will resume debate on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

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