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National votes

September 30, 2008

WASHINGTON - Here's how area members of Congress voted on major roll call votes in the week ending Sept. 26.

HOUSE

Credit card rules



Voting 312 for and 112 against, the House on Sept. 23 sent the Senate a bill (HR 5244) setting pro-consumer rules for credit card firms. In part, the bill allows cardholders to set their own limits above which transactions cannot be processed; sets 18 as the minimum age for obtaining a card in most circumstances; requires 45 days' notice of rate increases while allowing existing balances to be paid at the previous rate; and prohibits changes in contract terms until a card is up for renewal.

Additionally, the bill limits the use of outside credit information as a basis for increasing annual percentage rates; bans fees on balances attributable to accrued interest on debt that has been paid; bans interest charges on balances paid on time; and sets standards for issuing sub-prime, or "fee harvester," cards to those with poor credit ratings.

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A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Maryland

Roscoe Bartlett, R-6, yes

Pennsylvania

Bill Shuster, R-9, no

West Virginia

Shelley Moore Capito, R-2, yes

GOP credit card plan



Voting 198 for and 219 against, the House on Sept. 23 defeated a Republican motion to delay the effects of HR 5244 until the Federal Reserve studies the bill and certifies it would not shrink credit availability and damage the economy.

A yes vote backed the GOP plan.

Maryland

Bartlett, yes

Pennsylvania

Shuster, yes

West Virginia

Capito, yes

Mental health parity



Voting 376 for and 47 against, the House on Sept. 23 passed a bill (HR 6983) requiring private insurers to cover mental illness and chemical addiction at the same level and cost that they cover physical ailments in the same policy. Backers were hopeful the measure would become law this year because the Senate included a similar measure in HR 6049.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Maryland

Bartlett, yes

Pennsylvania

Shuster, yes

West Virginia

Capito, yes

Stopgap budget, offshore drilling



Voting 370 for and 58 against, the House on Sept. 24 approved a $630 billion bill (HR 2638) to provide regular 2009 appropriations for veterans' programs and the departments of Defense and Homeland Security along with stopgap funding through March 6 for the remainder of the federal government. The bill also allows the congressional ban on offshore drilling to expire while providing $25 billion in loan guarantees to help U.S. automakers build hybrid and electric vehicles, $23 billion for recovery from natural disasters and billions of dollars for members' earmarks. Democratic leaders chose stopgap funding at 2008 levels in hopes that their spending priorities will fare better in the next administration.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Maryland

Bartlett, yes

Pennsylvania

Shuster, yes

West Virginia

Capito, yes

2009 military budget



Voting 392 for and 39 against, the House on Sept. 24 joined the Senate in authorizing $612.5 billion in military spending for 2009, including $70 billion to fund war in Afghanistan and Iraq for part of the fiscal year. The bill (S 3001) sets a 3.9 percent military pay raise, bars permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq, bans premium or co-pay increases in the military health plan known as TRICARE and provides billions of dollars in earmarks for lawmakers' pet projects.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Maryland

Bartlett, yes

Pennsylvania

Shuster, yes

West Virginia

Capito, yes

Filipino vets' benefits



Voting 392 for and 23 against, the House on Sept. 23 passed a bill (HR 6897) that would award payments to some 13,000 Filipino veterans who fought under U.S. command in World War II, but were denied veterans' benefits by a 1946 act of Congress. The bill would provide one-time payments of $15,000 to Filipinos of U.S. citizenship living in the United States and $9,000 to those who are not U.S. citizens. The bill must be reconciled with a similar Senate measure.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Maryland

Bartlett, yes

Pennsylvania

Shuster, yes

West Virginia

Capito, yes

AMT



Voting 393 for and 30 against, the House on Sept. 24 joined the Senate in approving a bill (HR 7005) enabling 22 million middle-income households to avoid the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) in 2008, with the $64 billion-plus cost added to the national debt. The House voted in June to pay for the bill by closing loopholes that benefit oil and gas firms, investment partnerships and hedge funds. Senate Republicans objected to that approach on grounds that spending cuts rather than tax increases should be used to pay for the fix.

The AMT was enacted in 1969 to prevent a few wealthy filers from using deductions, exemptions and shelters to avoid income taxes. Not indexed for inflation, the levy has crept into middle-income brackets. Even with this fix, the AMT will add a projected $2,400 per return to the 2008 tax bills of 4 million middle-income filers.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Maryland

Bartlett, yes

Pennsylvania

Shuster, yes

West Virginia

Capito, yes




SENATE



Tax break extensions



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