WASHINGTON - Here is how Philadelphia-area members of Congress voted on major issues last week:
2012 farm, food budget. Voting 217-203, the House passed a bill (HR 2112) to appropriate $17.3 billion in discretionary spending for the Department of Agriculture and related agencies in fiscal 2012. The bill would cut spending by nearly 14 percent below 2011 levels to meet targets in the Republicans' 2012 budget plan. The bill would provide $2.2 billion for the Food and Drug Administration, down $284 million from 2011 levels, and $171 million for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, down $32 million.
The bill would sharply cut discretionary spending for domestic food initiatives such as the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program and aid for community food banks. But it would fund an increase of more than $7 billion, to $108.3 billion, in mandatory 2012 spending for crop subsidies, food stamps, school lunches, and other entitlements whose levels are set by formula, not by congressional appropriators.
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.), Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), Tim Holden (D., Pa.), and Allyson Y. Schwartz (D., Pa.).
Food-safety funds. Voting 193-226, the House defeated an amendment to add $1 million to HR 2112 (above) to help the Food and Drug Administration implement a 2010 law that greatly expands its authority over domestic and foreign companies that handle raw and processed foods. The $1 million was to have been transferred from a variety of Department of Agriculture administrative accounts.
A yes vote was to spend more on food safety.
Voting yes: Brady, Carney, Dent, Fattah, Holden, LoBiondo, Schwartz, and Smith.
Voting no: Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, Meehan, Pitts, and Runyan.
Not voting: Andrews.
Breast-feeding funds. Voting 119-306, the House defeated an amendment to strip HR 2112 (above) of its $85 million for a program that educates mothers about the health advantages of breast feeding. The counseling is part of the WIC nutrition program for low-income families.
A yes vote was to defund the breast-feeding program.
Voting yes: Pitts.
Voting no: Andrews, Brady, Carney, Dent, Fattah, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, Holden, LoBiondo, Meehan, Runyan, Schwartz, and Smith.
Veterans' suicides. Voting 184-234, the House defeated a bid by Democrats to spend an additional $20 million in fiscal 2012 for services to prevent suicides by veterans of combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. The vote occurred as the House passed a bill (HR 2055) appropriating $72.5 billion for military construction programs and the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2012. The $20 million was to have been offset by cuts elsewhere in the bill.
A yes vote was to increase spending to prevent veterans' suicides.
Voting yes: Brady, Carney, Fattah, Holden, and Schwartz.
Voting no: Dent, Fitzpatrick, Gerlach, LoBiondo, Meehan, Pitts, Runyan, and Smith.
Not voting: Andrews.
Ethanol subsidies. The Senate voted, 73-27, to end tax subsidies and trade protection for the U.S. ethanol industry. The measure would end refundable tax credits for refineries that blend ethanol with gasoline, saving the Treasury $6 billion annually. The credits amount to 45 cents per gallon of ethanol. The amendment also would repeal a tariff of 54 cents per gallon on imported ethanol. Critics noted that U.S. refineries need no financial incentive because they are required by law to undercut this domestic alternative to foreign oil. The underlying bill (S 782) remained in debate.
A yes vote was to end ethanol subsidies.
Voting yes: Thomas Carper (D., Del.), Chris Coons (D., Del.), Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), and Pat Toomey (R., Pa.).
Voting no: Bob Casey (D., Pa.).