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National votes

July 27, 2008|By Thomas Voting Reports

WASHINGTON - Here's how area members of Congress voted on major roll call votes in the week ending July 25.

HOUSE



Housing rescue

Voting 272 for and 152 against, the House on July 23 sent the Senate a bill (HR 3221) that authorizes a standby taxpayer bailout of the private companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, allows up to 400,000 troubled mortgages to be reworked into government-backed loans, allows $7,500 tax credits to certain first-time home buyers and grants $4 billion to help communities and nonprofits acquire and market vacant, foreclosed properties.

Additionally, the bill raises the national debt limit from $9.8 trillion to $10.6 trillion; approves $11 billion in tax-exempt bonds that communities would use to refinance troubled mortgages and provide affordable rental housing; allows taxpayers who do not itemize deductions to treat $500 or $1,000 of their 2008 property taxes as a federal tax deduction; and raises to as high as $625,000 the maximum loan that can be federally insured.

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The standby bailout, projected to cost taxpayers up to $25 billion if ever invoked, authorizes the Treasury to use means such as stock purchases, cash infusions and favorable lending to shore up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which own or insure more than $5 trillion in mortgages, more than 40 percent of the nation's total. The bill would create the Federal Housing Finance Agency to stiffen regulation of the two firms.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Maryland

Roscoe Bartlett, R-6, no

Pennsylvania

Bill Shuster, R-9, no

West Virginia

Shelley Moore Capito, R-2, yes

Strategic petroleum reserve

Voting 268 for and 157 against, the House on July 24 failed to reach a two-thirds majority needed to pass a bill (HR 6578) requiring President Bush to gradually diminish the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) by 10 percent over the next several months, adding about 500,000 barrels of oil daily to the world market. The drawdown would reduce the quantity of taxpayer-owned oil in the SPR's Gulf Coast salt caverns from about 700 million barrels to 630 million barrels.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Maryland

Bartlett, no

Pennsylvania

Shuster, no

West Virginia

Capito, yes

Global AIDS funding

Voting 303 for and 115 against, the House on July 24 passed a bill (HR 5501) authorizing $50 billion over five years for U.S. support of international programs to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. The bill earmarks 80 percent of its AIDS funds for treatment programs such as the distribution of anti-viral drugs and ends a mandate that one-third of AIDS spending be allocated to abstinence programs.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Maryland

Bartlett, no

Pennsylvania

Shuster, no

West Virginia

Capito, yes

Bridge safety inspections

Voting 367 for and 55 against, the House on July 24 passed a bill (HR 3999) to upgrade bridge inspections in the U.S. at a cost of $2 billion between 2008 and 2012. The bill requires states to put the riskiest bridges first in line for repairs; requires more frequent bridge inspections; upgrades training and certification standards for inspectors; and directs the Department of Transportation to complete pending reports on the condition of specific bridges. The bill awaits Senate action.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Maryland

Bartlett, yes

Pennsylvania

Shuster, yes

West Virginia

Capito, yes

SENATE



Housing rescue

Voting 80 for and 13 against, the Senate on July 25 agreed to debate a House-passed bill (HR 3221) that potentially would bail out the housing finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at an estimated cost to taxpayers of up to $25 billion.

A yes vote was to advance 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

Oil market speculation

Voting 50 for and 43 against, the Senate on July 25 failed to reach 60 votes needed to end GOP blockage of a bill (S 3268) directing the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to curb "excessive speculation" in the oil futures market, in part by setting higher margin requirements, requiring more public disclosure and working more closely with regulators from other countries. The agency has authority under existing law to determine whether market prices for commodities accurately reflect supply and demand. The bill was aimed at pure speculators rather than companies such as transportation firms that trade in oil futures as a business decision.

A yes vote was to advance the bill.

Maryland

Mikulski, yes

Cardin, yes

Pennsylvania

Specter, no

Casey, yes

West Virginia

Byrd, yes

Rockefeller, yes




Key votes ahead

In the week of July 28, the House will take up energy measures and a bill concerning gender-based pay discrimination, while the Senate will debate a housing bill and the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

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