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National votes

May 24, 2009

By Thomas Voting Reports

WASHINGTON -- Here's how area members of Congress voted on major roll call votes in the week ending May 22.

HOUSE

Credit card rules

Voting 361 for and 64 against, the House on May 20 passed a bill (HR 627) changing a wide range of credit card practices in ways that benefit consumers. The bill freezes interest rates on new accounts for one year and locks in promotional rates for six months. Credit card firms then would have to give 45 days notice of rate increases and could apply new rates retroactively only to balances at least 60 days in arrears.

President Obama was to sign the bill by the end of the week. The bills rate-notice rules will take effect in August and the other changes in February 2010.

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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

Guns in parks

Voting 279 for and 147 against, the House on May 20 approved language in HR 627 ensuring the right to bear loaded guns in the National Park System and National Wildlife Refuge System if the bearer is otherwise qualified to carry weapons. The provision seeks to counter a federal judge's recent ruling against Bush administration rules that permit loaded weapons in federal parks and refuges.

A yes vote backed the gun amendment.

Maryland

Bartlett, yes

Pennsylvania

Shuster, yes

West Virginia

Capito, yes

At-risk mortgages

Voting 367 for and 54 against, the House on May 19 passed a bill (S 896) revamping the 2008 Hope for Homeowners Program, which encourages lenders to refinance at-risk mortgages into 30-year, fixed-interest loans in return for Federal Housing Administration backing of the new loans. President Obama signed the bill into law May 20.

The bill softens eligibility terms for borrowers and increases federal incentives for lenders, with $2.3 billion of its cost covered by the $700 billion Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP). The bill also extends FDIC insurance on bank deposits to $250,000 per person per institution through 2013.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Maryland

Bartlett, no

Pennsylvania

Shuster, yes

West Virginia

Capito, yes

Financial crimes

Voting 338 for and 52 against, the House on May 18 passed a bill (S 386) toughening federal laws against mortgage and securities fraud and nearly doubling federal personnel for investigating and prosecuting financial crimes. The bill also would establish a commission of six Democratic appointees and four Republican appointees, armed with subpoena power, to investigate the ongoing economic crisis and recommend preventive steps. President Obama signed the bill into law May 20.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Maryland

Bartlett, no

Pennsylvania

Shuster, yes

West Virginia

Capito, yes

Federal aviation budget

Voting 277 for and 136 against, the House on May 21 passed a bill (HR 915) authorizing $70 billion for federal aviation programs through fiscal 2012. In part, the bill provides $39.3 billion for operating the Federal Aviation Administration, $16.2 billion for airport improvements and $13.4 billion for modernizing the air-traffic control system.

The bill shifts FedEx Express drivers from the jurisdiction of the Railway Labor Act to the National Labor Relations Act, making it easier for them to organize into a union. FedEx is not a union shop.

The bill directs the FAA to negotiate a new contract with PATCO, the air traffic controllers union, and requires binding arbitration if an agreement is not reached within 45 days.

Additionally, the bill gives airports authority to increase taxes on passengers, raises taxes on aviation fuel and requires foreign stations that service U.S. aircraft to meet U.S. standards for criminal background checks on employees and drug and alcohol testing.

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.

Maryland

Bartlett, no

Pennsylvania

Shuster, no

West Virginia

Capito, yes

Tobacco commerce

Voting 397 for and 11 against, the House on May 21 passed a bill (HR 1676) requiring sellers of large quantities of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco in interstate commerce to comply with state tax laws and register with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATFE). Under the bill, the bureau could inspect the premises of those using the Internet, phone or mail to distribute or sell more than 10,000 cigarettes or 500 cans of smokeless tobacco per month. The bill awaits Senate action.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Maryland

Bartlett, yes

Pennsylvania

Shuster, yes

West Virginia

Capito, yes

SENATE

Credit card rules

The Senate on May 19 voted, 90 for and five against, to impose pro-consumer rules on credit card firms. In addition to provisions noted in the House item above, the bill (HR 627) requires credit cards to apply payments to the highest-interest portion of cardholder debt, limits the issuance of subprime "fee harvester" cards to those with poor credit ratings and requires statements to be mailed 21 days in advance of the due date.

President Obama was to sign the bill into law by the end of the week.

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