Legislative checkup, June 2007 (Congress)

I have to admit that I let this get a little out of hand, so a lot of this will be summary information. But I’m going to attempt to hit the highlights.

What I looked at this time were the doings of the three people we on the Eastern Shore of Maryland elected to represent us – Wayne Gilchrest, Ben Cardin, and Barbara Mikulski. (Well, we may not have elected all three but the majority ruled in those cases.)

I’ve noticed something about all of the bills these three have introduced. Unlike, say, the immigration bill (more on that later), their pet bills are sent to committee and most haven’t gotten out yet. Gilchrest’s main bill is a reathorization of the Chesapeake Bay program. He’s also placed a resolution out there about a diversified energy portfolio.

Meanwhile, Senator Cardin has also focused quite a bit on energy in those bills and amendments he’s introduced. The one most interesting to me is S.1165, which mandates LEED Silver certification for new and renovated federal buildings. I have a vested interest in that particular field as some of you know. On the other hand, Senator Mikulski seems to focus more on health issues. While it wasn’t her exact bill, a similar measure to one she sponsored, “A bill to amend the Public Health Service Act to provide waivers relating to grants for preventive health measures with respect to breast and cervical cancers” was signed into law this year. So we get another government mandate. *sigh*

But more important to me is how these representatives of mine (not always by my personal choice) voted. I’ll start with Wayne Gilchrest.

I have 11 different votes here, and there’s a lot of them where the votes were split generally along party lines. Gilchrest tended to be a reliable vote – for the Democrat side. Check these out for yourself, I included the roll call number.

  • HR 2771, Legislative Branch Appropriations for FY 2008, passed 216-176. Gilchrest voted yes with 202 Democrats – Roll No. 548.
  • HR 2764, Department of State, etc. Appropriations for FY 2008, passed 241-178. Gilchrest voted yes with 210 Democrats – Roll No. 542. He also voted with the D’s on a number of amendments to this bill, several rolls previous to No. 542 show this.
  • H. Con. Res. 21, Calling on the United Nations Security Council to charge Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with violating the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the United Nations Charter because of his calls for the destruction of the State of Israel; passed 411-2, Gilchrest voted “present.” Roll No. 513.
  • HR 2638, Department of Homeland Security Appropriations 2008, passed 268-150. Gilchrest voted yes with 223 Democrats – Roll No. 491.
  • S 5, the “Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act”, passed 247-176. Gilchrest joined 210 Democrats in the majority – Roll No. 443. He also joined in providing for embryonic stem cell research in an amendment (H. Res. 464) passed 224-191 with 211 Democrats in favor – Roll No. 441.
  • HR 1252, “Federal Price Gouging Prevention Act”. Since when should the feds determine gouging, what with their tax rates? Anyway, Gilchrest joined 228 Democrats in passing this 284-141 – Roll No. 404.
  • HR 2082, “Intelligence Authorization Act”, passed 225-197, Gilchrest one of just 5 Republicans voting “aye.” – Roll No. 341.
  • HR 2237, To provide for the redeployment of United States Armed Forces and defense contractors from Iraq, failed 171-255, 2 Republicans voting yes. But Gilchrest was not one of them. On this he did join the GOP.
  • HR 1592, a “hate crimes” bill. I hate crime too, but this isn’t what they mean. Passed 237-180, Gilchrest joined 212 Democrats in supporting this. Roll No. 299.
  • HR 1905, District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act. Gilchrest voted for this with 219 Democrats as it passed 241-177. Roll No. 231.

So our esteemed Republican Congressman may have found a second home in the Democrat caucus, or so it seems. If I wanted those types of votes I’d have voted for, say, Cardin and Mikulski.

And speaking of that not-so-dynamic duo, I conjured up a list of votes that I object to where the two voted as a block. In several cases the margin was such that, had they switched sides, the opposite action would have occurred (e.g. passage becomes failure and vice versa.)

While Cardin hawks energy independence, he and Mikulski voted against an amendment to H.R. 6 (the so-called CLEAN Energy Act) allowing natural gas drilling off the Virginia coastline. This was Vote No. 212, and it failed 43-44. One or the other could have made this happen. Overall the bill passed yesterday, 65-27 (both in favor, Vote No. 226).

And both of them voted that they had no confidence in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. (to invoke cloture on S.J. Res. 14, failed 53-38, Vote No. 207.) I’m not real happy with him either but let President Bush make the decision.

On S.1348 (the original immigration bill) our esteemed Senators voted for the following:

  • They both voted to invoke cloture (Vote No. 206, failed 45-50).
  • Neither supported an amendment to enforce existing laws before amnesty (Coburn Amendment, Vote No. 202, failed 42-54).
  • They were the difference in killing an amendment that would have mandated a biometric check-in system promised since 1996 (Vitter Amendment, Vote No. 199, failed 48-49.)
  • An amendment that did pass where illegal aliens could not claim the Earned Income Tax Credit still drew our Senators’ disfavor (Sessions Amendment, Vote No. 192, passed 56-41.)
  • This one floors me. An amendment to permanently bar immigrants who are “gang members, terrorists, and other criminals” was defeated 46-51 with the help of these two (Cornyn Amendment, Vote No. 187).
  • Not surprisingly, an amendment to S.1348 that mandated presentation of voter ID (amending the Help America Vote Act of 2002) got “no” votes from both (McConnell Amendment, Vote No. 184, failed 41-52.)

And then you have taxation. True to the Democrat “tax and spend” reputation, these two worked to keep taxes high in the following ways this spring:

  • On S.761, “A bill to invest in innovation and education to improve the competitiveness of the United States in the global economy”, they both voted to table an amendment stating, “To express the sense of the Senate that Congress has a moral obligation to offset the cost of new Government programs and initiatives.” (Coburn Amendment, motion to table carried 54-43, Vote No. 140.)
  • They voted to raise taxes. Instead of voting for an amendment keeping the current rate structure, our pair voted for raising rates anywhere from 3% to 4.6% – essentially nullifying the Bush tax cuts (Graham Amendment to S. Con. Res. 21, failed 46-52, Vote No. 107.)
  • They both voted twice against changing the alternative minimum tax. (Lott Amendment to S. Con. Res. 21, failed 49-50, Vote No. 113; and Grassley Amendment, same bill, failed 44-53, Vote No. 108.)
  • Even worse, they voted three times in the same stretch against any change to or repeal of the death tax! (Cited are votes on amendments to S. Con. Res. 21: Kyl Amendment 507, rejected 47-51, Vote No. 83; Kyl Amendment 583, rejected 48-51, Vote No. 102; DeMint Amendment, rejected 44-55, Vote No. 109.)

And of course, no Democrat resume is complete without advocating embryonic stem cell research – never mind it’s not been proven to be effective in finding any cures for diseases while adult stem cell research has. (S.5, passed 63-34, Vote No. 127.)

But I’ll give credit where credit is due. Another amendment to S. Con. Res. 21 that would’ve allowed wealthier Medicare Part D recipients to pay a greater premium share lost, 44-52. They both voted against the Ensign Amendment (Vote No. 93.) Now I’ll give both Cardin and Mikulski credit since they did vote (Cardin being in the House at the time) against the original mess in 2003. So on a philosophical level I agreed with their vote (both now and in 2003), although something tells me that had John Kerry won the Presidency and submitted a similar package both Cardin and Mikulski would’ve voted in favor of it. Medicare Part D was perhaps the final nail in the coffin for equating Republicans with fiscal conservatism.

Hopefully this will inform the voters of the Eastern Shore just what their elected officials inside the Beltway are doing. Something tells me they’re not going to like it too much.

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2 Responses to “Legislative checkup, June 2007 (Congress)”

  1. […] North Korea Link to Article iraq Legislative checkup, June 2007 (Congress) » Posted at monoblogue on Saturday, June 23, 2007 I have to admit that I let this get a little out of hand, so a lot of this will be summary information. But I’m going to attempt to hit the highlights. What I looked at this time were the doings of the three people we on the Eastern Shore of Maryland elected to represent us – Wayne Gilchrest, Ben Cardin, and Barbara Mikulski. ( View Entire Article » […]

  2. […] Hey, that sounds like something I saw as well. […]

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