WASHINGTON - Here is how Philadelphia-area members of Congress voted on major issues last week:
Technology, science dispute. Voting 261-148, the House failed to reach a two-thirds majority needed to pass a bill (HR 5325) authorizing $48 billion over three years for a wide range of science and technology programs run by federal agencies, universities, and the private sector. Begun in 2007, the "America Competes" initiative seeks to maintain the country's global leadership in technology and innovation. The bill required a supermajority for passage because it was debated under a short-cut procedure that limited debate and barred amendments.
A yes vote was to pass the bill.
Voting yes: John Adler (D., N.J.), Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Michael N. Castle (R., Del.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), and Joe Sestak (D., Pa.).
Voting no: Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).
Not voting: Tim Holden (D., Pa.).
Financial regulations. Voting 59-39, the Senate passed a bill (HR 4173) to impose strict financial rules for curbing excesses on Wall Street and protecting the U.S. economy from another meltdown. The bill outlaws or regulates many of the reckless practices that led to bank failures and taxpayer bailouts in recent years; permanently bars taxpayer-funded rescues of large institutions; establishes a new agency to protect financial consumers; and orders a one-time audit of the Federal Reserve's lending of $2 trillion to large financial firms starting in 2007. This vote sent the bill to House-Senate negotiations that could be televised.
A yes vote was to pass the bill.
Voting yes: Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Ted Kaufman (D., Del.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), and Robert Menendez (D., N.J.).
Not voting: Arlen Specter (D., Pa.).
Credit-card interest caps. Voting 35-60, the Senate refused to give states the option to set their own interest-rate caps on their residents' credit cards, which would lead to reduced rates in many states. The amendment to HR 4173 (above) sought to nullify a 1978 Supreme Court ruling under which card companies are answerable only to the comparatively weak usury laws of the state where they are headquartered, such as Delaware or South Dakota. The ruling is intended to ensure a uniform national banking system rather than a patchwork that would be unmanageable.
A yes vote backed the amendment.
Voting yes: Casey and Lautenberg.
Voting no: Carper and Kaufman.
Not voting: Menendez and Specter.
Consumer protection. Voting 80-18, the Senate on May 18 approved an amendment to HR 4173 (above) empowering state attorneys general to bring enforcement actions under new federal rules for protecting financial consumers. But the amendment also affirms the power of the federal Comptroller of the Currency to preempt state enforcement actions against national banks when that is necessary to preserve the integrity and uniformity of the national banking system.
A yes vote backed the stronger of two side-by-side amendments on consumer protection.
Voting yes: Carper, Casey, Kaufman, Lautenberg, and Menendez.
Not voting: Specter.
This week. The House will debate the 2011 defense budget and bills creating jobs and funding science and technology programs. The Senate will take up a bill appropriating $5.5 billion for disaster relief.