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National votes

September 19, 2009

By Votes in Congress Service

WASHINGTON - Here's how area members of Congress voted on major roll call votes in the week ending Sept. 18.

HOUSE



Joe Wilson reprimand

Voting 240 for and 179 against, the House on Sept. 15 expressed "disapproval" of Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst during President Obama's Sept. 9 speech to Congress. The South Carolina Republican shouted "you lie" when the president said his health care proposals would not benefit illegal immigrants. Wilson apologized to the White House chief of staff and Obama accepted the apology. Wilson has refused to apologize to the House for his act. The disapproval measure (H Res 744) was the mildest punishment the House could give to Wilson.

A yes vote was to reprimand Wilson.

Maryland

Roscoe Bartlett, R-6, no

Pennsylvania

Bill Shuster, R-9, no

West Virginia

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Shelley Moore Capito, R-2, no

Student loans

Voting 253 for and 171 against, the House on Sept. 17 passed a bill (HR 3221) to shift federally backed student loans to direct lending by the Department of Education, excluding the private-sector lenders who now dominate the government program. The bill would save $87 billion over 10 years by ending the private lenders' taxpayer subsidies, guarantees and bailouts. The savings would be used, in part, to expand Pell Grants for poor students and Perkins Loans for middle-income students. Pell Grants would be converted to an entitlement program and increased from today's cap of about $5,350 annually to $5,550 in 2010 and $6,900 by 2019.

The $55 billion annual student-loan market is split between federally backed private lending and the government's direct lending. The rules allow banks and other private firms to keep all interest revenue while shifting their losses to taxpayers. Some private portfolios have received Treasury bailouts during the current recession.

The bill awaits Senate action.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Maryland

Bartlett, no

Pennsylvania

Shuster, no

West Virginia

Capito, no

ACORN funding ban

Voting 345 for and 75 against, the House on Sept. 17 barred the community advocacy group ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) from receiving funding in HR 3221. This followed release of an undercover videotape in which a few ACORN workers are seen urging illegal activity. ACORN then fired some of those employees.

A yes vote backed the Republican motion.

Maryland

Bartlett, yes

Pennsylvania

Shuster, yes

West Virginia

Capito, yes

Vehicle technologies

Voting 312 for and 114 against, the House on Sept. 16 passed a bill (HR 3246) authorizing $2.43 billion through fiscal 2014 for Department of Energy programs to develop clean technologies for improving fuel efficiency and reducing harmful emissions in vehicles ranging from cars to tractor-trailers. The bill, which awaits Senate action, would use public funds to support private sector research.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Maryland

Bartlett, yes

Pennsylvania

Shuster, yes

West Virginia

Capito, yes

SENATE



ACORN funding ban

The Senate on Sept. 14 voted, 83 for and seven against, to disqualify ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) from receiving grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development's fiscal 2010 budget (HR 3288). ACORN has received HUD funds for advising the poor on matters such as obtaining mortgages and combating housing discrimination.

ACORN is a 39-year-old advocacy organization for poor and moderate-income people that operates mainly on nonfederal funding.

But in a recent report, House Republicans called ACORN "a complex structure designed to conceal illegal activities, to use taxpayer and tax-exempt dollars for partisan political purposes, and to distract investigators," and says the group's "stated purpose to promote grass-roots civic participation has been perverted through fraudulent and illegal acts."

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.

Maryland

Barbara Mikulski, D, not voting

Benjamin Cardin, D, yes

Pennsylvania

Arlen Specter, D, yes

Robert Casey Jr., D, no

West Virginia

Robert Byrd, D, not voting

John Rockefeller, D, yes

Guns on Amtrak

Voting 68 for and 30 against, the Senate on Sept. 16 required Amtrak to allow passengers to stow handguns in checked luggage or lose its $1.6 billion federal subsidy. The vote, which occurred during debate on HR 3288, gives Amtrak six months to comply.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

Maryland

Mikulski, no

Cardin, no

Pennsylvania

Specter, no

Casey, yes

West Virginia

Byrd, not voting

Rockefeller, no

Key votes ahead

In the week of Sept. 21, the House will take up extended unemployment benefits, while the Senate will debate fiscal 2010 appropriations bills.

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