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National votes

February 11, 2008|By Thomas Voting Reports

WASHINGTON - Here's how area members of Congress voted on major roll call votes in the week ending Feb. 8.

HOUSE



$170 billion stimulus



Voting 380 for and 34 against, the House on Feb. 7 sent President Bush an economic stimulus package (HR 5140) that will deliver onetime payments in the hundreds of dollars to some 137 million U.S. households. The bill also will provide at least $46 billion in one-time business tax breaks and nearly double the caps on loans insurable by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration. The bill is projected to cost up to $170 billion over two years in deficit spending. Checks are to be mailed in May.

The bill authorizes rebates of up to $600 to 117 million households that file tax returns plus $300 per dependent child. It also will send $300 checks to 20 million Social Security recipients and 250,000 disabled veterans, and provide rebates of $300 per individual, or $600 per couple, to households with at least $3,000 in earned income that pay no income taxes.

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A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Maryland


Roscoe Bartlett, R-6, yes

Pennsylvania


Bill Shuster, R-9, yes

West Virginia


Shelley Moore Capito, R-2, yes




Higher education



Voting 354 for and 58 against, the House on Feb. 7 passed a bill (HR 4137) renewing the Higher Education Act through 2012 at a cost of $97.4 billion. The bill uses the federal government's $85 billion in annual aid to higher education as leverage to set requirements and standards for colleges and universities.

The bill would use federal Web sites and other publicity to hold schools publicly accountable for their overall costs and tuition increases; seek to control textbook costs; penalize states that reduce student aid; raise the maximum Pell Grant for poor students from $4,300 to $9,000 per year and make Pell Grants available year-round; and expand federal aid to minorities, veterans, military families and the disabled.

Additionally, the bill would require simplified forms for applying for student loans; police conflicts of interest and corrupt practices between schools and lending institutions; increase aid to historically black institutions and Hispanic-serving schools; and encourage schools to adopt more efficient energy practices and make greater use of renewable fuels

Additionally, the bill creates programs in concert with the private sector to upgrade the teaching of science, technology and critical foreign languages; seeks to upgrade teacher training in those fields; and requires schools to improve their campus security and disaster-preparedness procedures.

The bill also would authorize up to $10,000 in student-loan forgiveness to members of the armed forces, public defenders, prosecutors, firefighters, emergency workers, law enforcement officers, educators and nurses.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Maryland


Bartlett, no

Pennsylvania


Shuster, yes

West Virginia


Capito, yes




Dischargeable student loans



Voting 179 for and 236 against, the House on Feb. 7 refused to classify privately funded student loans as a dischargeable debt in Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings. The amendment, which was proposed to HR 4137, sought to give long-term debtors a way to dispose of high-interest commercial loans they took out while students.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Maryland


Bartlett, no

Pennsylvania


Shuster, no

West Virginia


Capito, no




SENATE



$170 billion stimulus



Voting 81 for and 16 against, the Senate on Feb. 7 passed a $170 billion anti-recession bill (HR 5140) that will provide 137 million households with one-time payments of $300 or $600 plus $300 for each dependent child. The bill also will grant $46 billion in business tax breaks and increase federal backing of home mortgages. The bill sets payments of $300 to disabled veterans along with $300 payments to the working poor and Social Security recipients with little or no earned income.

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, with filers with incomes slightly above $75,000 or $150,000 receiving rebates phased down from $300 or $600.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Maryland


Barbara Mikulski, D, yes

Benjamin Cardin, D, yes

Pennsylvania


Arlen Specter, R, yes

Robert Casey Jr., D, yes

West Virginia


Robert Byrd, D, yes

John Rockefeller, D, yes




Extended jobless benefits



Voting 58 for and 41 against, the Senate on Feb. 6 failed to reach 60 votes needed to advance a Democratic-drafted bill that was far more extensive than HR 5140. The bill differed most notably by providing 13 or 26 weeks of extended unemployment benefits; setting much higher income levels for rebate eligibility; providing energy-efficiency tax credits; granting tax incentives for energy exploration; and giving states authority to offer tax-exempt mortgage bonds.

A yes vote was to advance the Democratic measure.

Maryland


Mikulski, yes

Cardin, yes

Pennsylvania


Specter, yes

Casey, yes

West Virginia


Byrd, yes

Rockefeller, yes




Four-year FISA extension



Voting 49 for and 46 against, the Senate on Feb. 6 failed to get 60 votes for advancing a bid to renew the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) for four years rather than six years. Backers said a four-year sunset would obligate the next administration to closely scrutinize the law, while foes said intelligence agencies would better protect national security in the six-year window contained in the underlying bill (S 2248).

A yes vote backed a four-year sunset.

Maryland


Mikulski, yes

Cardin, yes

Pennsylvania


Specter, no

Casey, yes

West Virginia


Byrd, yes

Rockefeller, yes




Key votes ahead



In the week of Feb. 11, both chambers will seek to renew the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) before it expires Feb. 15. Congress at week's end will begin a weeklong Presidents Day recess.

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