WASHINGTON - Here is how Philadelphia-area members of Congress voted on major issues last week:


Student-loan rates. Voting 221-198, the House on Thursday sent the Senate a Republican bill (HR 1911) setting variable but capped interest rates for Stafford student loans and certain other education loans. For newly issued Stafford loans, the rate would be set annually at the rate for a 10-year Treasury note plus 2.5 percentage points, with a cap of 8.5 percent for undergraduates. At present, interest on Stafford loans is fixed at 3.4 percent, but will rise to 6.8 percent July 1 unless Congress acts before then to head off the doubling of loan costs.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Michael Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Pat Meehan (R., Pa.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), Jon Runyan (R., N.J.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).

Voting no: Robert E. Andrews (D., N.J.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), John Carney (D., Del.), Matt Cartwright (D., Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), and Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.).

Keystone XL Pipeline. Voting 241-175, the House on Wednesday passed a bill (HR 3) to approve the building of the Keystone XL Pipeline between the Canadian border and Steele City, Neb. This usurped authority over the project from the executive branch, which is still weighing approval or disapproval of the so-called Northern Route between Canada and Nebraska.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes: Dent, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Meehan, Pitts, Runyan, and Smith.

Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Carney, Fattah, Cartwright, and Schwartz.


Federal sugar program. Voting 45-54, the Senate on Tuesday rejected an amendment to a pending farm bill (S 954) that sought to add free-market reforms to the federal sugar program, which protects growers and producers of cane and beet sugar. The program limits domestic production, restricts imports, puts a floor under growers' prices, and requires the government to buy crop surpluses for sale at a loss to the ethanol industry.

Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) said: "It makes no sense to have a program that forces American consumers to pay at least 30 percent more than the going rate for sugar."

A yes vote was to add market forces to the federal sugar program.

Voting yes: Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Chris Coons (D., Del.), Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), and Toomey.

Not voting: Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.).

Appeals court judgeship. Senators on Thursday confirmed, 97-0, Sri Srinivasan, 46, the principal deputy solicitor general at the Department of Justice, to sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. He becomes the first nominee by President Obama to join what is regarded as the most powerful federal appeals court.

A yes vote was to confirm Srinivasan.

Voting yes: Carper, Casey, Coons, Menendez, and Toomey.

Not voting: Lautenberg.

This week. Congress is in Memorial Day recess until the week of June 3, when the Senate will complete work on a five-year farm bill and take up immigration legislation. The House schedule was to be announced.