WASHINGTON - Here is how Philadelphia-area members of Congress voted on major issues last week:
EPA science advisers.
Voting 236-181 against, the House on Tuesday passed a Republican bill (HR 1029) to reshape the Environmental Protection Agency's Science Advisory Board to make it more industry-friendly and less dependent on the views of academic scientists. The board's mission is to provide independent evaluations of the scientific analyses upon which the EPA bases its regulations, with its 52 members chosen by the EPA administrator and serving without pay. This bill would reduce the number of academic seats on the board while expanding corporate membership; permit experts with financial ties to EPA-regulated industries to serve if they disclose their conflicts-of-interest; give state, local, and tribal governments a guaranteed number of seats; and add hurdles that would delay EPA's rulemaking process.
A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate, where it may face a 60-vote hurdle.
Voting yes: Ryan Costello (R., Pa.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Michael Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Tom MacArthur (R., N.J.), Pat Meehan (R., Pa.), Joseph R. Pitts (R., Pa.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).
Voting no: Brendan Boyle (D., Pa.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), John Carney (D., Del.), Pa.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), and Donald Norcross (D., N.J.).
Not voting: Matt Cartwright (D., Pa.).
Association with environmental crimes. Voting 179-237, the House on Tuesday defeated a Democratic bid to deny Science Advisory Board membership to scientists whose main source of research funding comes from individuals or corporations convicted of major environmental crimes. This motion to HR 1029 (above) specified crimes such as the discharge of toxic materials into drinking water, "refusal to clean up Superfund waste sites or the release of air pollutants that endanger human health and safety."
A yes vote was to adopt the motion, which would have amended the bill.
Voting yes: Boyle, Brady, Carney, Fattah, Norcross.
Voting no: Costello, Dent, Fitzpatrick, LoBiondo, MacArthur, Meehan, Pitts, Smith.
Not voting: Cartwright.
"Secret science." Voting 241-175 against, the House on Wednesday passed a Republican bill (HR 1030) that would nullify specific rule-makings by the Environmental Protection Agency unless all data from underlying research - including confidential health information about participants - have been made public so that the studies could be independently replicated. Republicans said the bill would promote transparency at the EPA, while Democrats said it would roll back environmental protection because health studies depend on protecting the privacy rights of participants.
Voting yes: Costello, Dent, Fitzpatrick, LoBiondo, MacArthur, Meehan, Pitts, Smith.
Voting no: Boyle, Brady, Carney, Cartwright, Fattah, Norcross.
Union elections. Voting 232-186, the House on Thursday approved a Republican 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.
A yes vote was to send the resolution to President Obama, who is expected to veto it.
Voting yes: Costello, Dent, Fitzpatrick, MacArthur, Meehan, Pitts,
Voting no: Boyle, Brady, Carney, Cartwright, Fattah, Fitzpatrick, LoBiondo, Meehan, Norcross, Smith.
Sex trafficking, abortion funding. Voting 56-42 against, the Senate on Thursday failed to reach 60 votes needed to end Democratic blockage of a bill (S 178) that would combat sex trafficking while putting limits on abortion funding for its victims. The bill would prohibit its proposed Domestic Trafficking Victims' Fund from being used to pay for abortions except in extreme instances.
A yes vote was to advance the bill.
Voting yes: Bob Casey (D., Pa.), and Pat Toomey (R., Pa.).
Voting no: Cory Booker (D., N.J.), Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Chris Coons (D., Del.), and Robert Menendez (D., N.J.).
This week. Both chambers will take up the Congressional Budget Resolution for fiscal 2016 and beyond.