WASHINGTON - Here is how Philadelphia-area members of Congress voted on major issues last week:
Regular budget for Homeland Security. Voting 257-167, the House on Tuesday passed a bill (HR 240) to fund the Department of Homeland Security at an annual rate of $39.7 billion for the remaining seven months of fiscal 2015 and avert a partial shutdown of the 231,000-employee, 16-agency department that was set to occur three days later. This bill was free of Republican objections to presidential immigration orders that had delayed its approval for several weeks.
Rep. Charlie Dent (R., Pa.) said: "If you are concerned about illegal immigration, vote for this bill. It fully funds E-Verify. It provides an increase of almost $700 million for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It fully funds FEMA's disaster relief programs and the first-responder grant programs that are critical to so many state and local departments."
A yes vote was to send the bill to President Obama, who signed it into law.
Voting yes: Brendan Boyle (D., Pa.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), John Carney (D., Del.), Matt Cartwright (D., Pa.), Ryan Costello (R., Pa.), Dent, Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Michael Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Tom MacArthur (R., N.J.), Pat Meehan (R., Pa.), Donald Norcross (D., N.J.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).
Rail-passenger budget. Voting 316-101, the House on Wednesday passed a bill (HR 749) that would authorize $7.2 billion through fiscal 2020 for rail-passenger service between U.S. cities, consisting of $5.3 billion for Amtrak operations and capital improvements, $1.2 billion for grants to state-operated passenger lines and $625 million for Amtrak debt service. The bill establishes Amtrak's profitable Northeast Corridor service between Washington and Boston as a separate financial entity so that its surpluses could no longer be used to subsidize money-losing routes in other regions. The bill gives states greater say in the operation of Amtrak routes within their borders.
A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate, where it stands a chance of passage.
Voting yes: Boyle, Brady, Carney, Cartwright, Costello, Dent, Fattah, Fitzpatrick, LoBiondo, MacArthur, Meehan, Norcross, Pitts, and Smith.
New rule for union elections. Voting 53-46, the Senate on Wednesday approved a resolution (SJ Res 8) that would kill a new National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rule compressing the time between the filing of a union-organizing petition and the vote on whether to unionize. Set to take effect April 14, the rule bars litigation intended mainly to delay elections and allows forms to be filed electronically with the NLRB during the election process instead of only by regular mail. In addition, the rule requires employers to provide organizers with workers' e-mail addresses and cellphone numbers, going beyond the present requirement that they provide only names and home addresses.
A yes vote was to send the resolution to the House. If it passes there, it would require Obama's signature to take effect.
Voting yes: Pat Toomey (R., Pa.).
Voting no: Cory Booker (D., N.J.), Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Chris Coons (D., Del.), and Robert Menendez (D., N.J.).
Veto of Keystone XL pipeline bill. Voting 62-37, the Senate on Wednesday failed to reach a two-thirds majority needed to override Obama's veto of a bill (S 1) to require federal approval of a Keystone XL pipeline section from the Canadian border to Steele City, Neb. This would be the final link in a nearly 4,000-mile Keystone XL network for shipping tar-sands crude from Hardisty, Alberta, to refineries in Texas and the Midwest and ports on the Texas Gulf Coast. TransCanada Corp. is the pipeline owner.
A yes vote was to override the veto.
Voting yes: Carper, Casey, and Toomey.
Voting no: Booker, Coons, and Menendez.
This week. The Senate will debate a bill giving Congress more power to shape agreements negotiated by the administration over Iran's nuclear program. The House will be in recess all week.