WASHINGTON - Here is how Philadelphia-area members of Congress voted on major issues last week:
FHA mortgage insurance. Voting 406-4, the House sent the Senate a bill (HR 5072) nearly tripling the cap on Federal Housing Administration insurance premiums for single-family mortgages. The bill would raise the top annual premium from 0.55 percent to 1.55 percent of the loan balance, with the average borrower expected to pay nearly 0.9 percent. In return, the FHA is expected but not required to lower its one-time, up-front premium from 2.25 percent to 1 percent of the loan amount.
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.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Patrick Murphy (D., Pa.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.), Joe Sestak (D., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).
FHA down payments. Voting 131-289, the House defeated an amendment to HR 5072 (above) that sought to increase the minimum down payment for FHA-insured home loans from 3.5 percent to 5 percent. Such an increase would lead to fewer defaults on FHA-backed loans while excluding many moderate- and low-income borrowers from home ownership.
A yes vote was to raise down-payment requirements.
Voting yes: Dent and Pitts.
Voting no: Adler, Andrews, Brady, Castle, Fattah, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Murphy, Schwartz, Sestak, and Smith.
Climate-change rules. Voting 47-53, the Senate defeated a GOP-sponsored attempt to block Environmental Protection Agency regulations for curbing emissions associated with climate change. The EPA plans to issue the rules in January, following an April 2007 Supreme Court ruling that it has authority to do so under the Clean Air Act.
A yes vote was to block the EPA rules.
Voting no: Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Ted Kaufman (D., Del.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), and Arlen Specter (D., Pa.).
U.S. debt and security. Voting 38-61, the Senate failed to table (kill) an amendment to HR 4213 concerning the effect of U.S. debt on national security. This preserved language requiring quarterly presidential reports to Congress on the extent to which foreign holdings of U.S. debt imperil U.S. security.
A yes vote was to kill the amendment.
Voting yes: Carper, Casey, Kaufman, Lautenberg, and Menendez.
Voting no: Specter.
Debt-security reports. Voting 58-41, the Senate approved an amendment to HR 4213 (above) requiring the Treasury to report regularly to Congress on the extent to which American security is threatened by countries such as China that are invested heavily in U.S. bills, notes, and bonds. Democrats backed the amendment as an alternative to a similar one (above) requiring more extensive presidential reports.
A yes vote backed the amendment.
Voting yes: Carper, Casey, Kaufman, Lautenberg, Menendez, and Specter.
This week. The House will take up a bill providing capital for small-business loans, while the Senate will continue to debate an extension of jobless benefits and a renewal of business and personal tax breaks.