Archive for March, 2011

March 18, 2011

House Votes to End NPR Funding

On Thursday, March 17th, 2011, the House voted on HR 1076 to prohibit funding of  National Public Radio, and the use of Federal funds to acquire radio content.

The measure passed by 228-192 with all Democrats voting against it along with seven Republicans. The Republicans who voted to continue funding NPR were: Duffy(WI-7), Gibson (NY-20), Hanna (NY-24), LaTourette (OH-14), Reichert (WA-8), Tiberi (OH-12), and Woodall (GA-7). Republican Justin Amash (MI-3) voted Present.

March 18, 2011

House Votes to Terminate Neighborhood Stabilization Program

On Wednesday, March 16th, 2011, the House voted 242-182 on H R 861 to end the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The program, which was begun under the Housing and Recovery Act of 2008, costs taxpayers $4 billion per year to subsidize urban municipalities in efforts to recover abandoned and foreclosed properties, but the rules for its implementation allowed many opportunist investors to buy properties for pennies on the dollar.

All Republicans except LaTourette (OH-14) and Turner (OH-3) voted for the measure, and were joined by five Democrat Representatives: Boren (OK-2), Chandler (KY-6), Cooper (TN-5), Holden (PA-17), and Peterson (MN-7).

March 18, 2011

Senate Ratifies Continuing Appropriations Resolution Until April 8th

On Thursday, March 17th, 2011, the US Senate ratified House Joint Resolution 48, which continues to fund the operations of the Federal Government until April 8th, 2011. No amendments were offered, and the measure was passed by a vote of 87-13.

Democrat Senators Patty Murray (WA), Carl Levin (MI) and John Rockefeller (WV), and Independent Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) opposed the bill on grounds that it cut spending too much. Republicans Mike Crapo (ID), Jim DeMint (SC), John Ensign (NV), Orrin Hatch (UT), James Inhofe (OK), Mike Lee (UT), Rand Paul (KY), James Risch (ID), and Marco Rubio (FL) opposed the bill on grounds that it did not cut spending sufficiently.

The measure goes on to the President, who is expected to sign it in time to avert a government shutdown tomorrow.

March 16, 2011

House Passes Continuing Appropriations Bill in a Mixed Vote

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011, the House passed House Joint Resolution 48, which funds discretionary spending by the Federal Government until April 8th, 2011. The final vote was 271-158, with 54 Republicans voting against it, and 85 Democrats voting for it.

The mixed partisan voting pattern was due to a number of factors – most Republicans who voted for its passage feared being blamed for a government shutdown, as the current appropriations expire on March 18th. The same motivation fueled 85 Democrats’ (mostly bluedog) desire to join the moderate Republicans in support of the bill. The 54 Republicans who voted against it thought it did not cut spending sufficiently, and the measure was a capitulation to pressure from the liberal media; the 104 Democrats who voted against it thought that it cut spending too much, especially in pet programs such as certain housing subsidies, EPA greenhouse gas studies, and BLM land acquisition and development.

March 16, 2011

House Passes FHA Refinance Program Termination Act

Thursday, 10th March, 2011, the House passed a measure, HR 830,  to terminate funding of the FHA Refinance Program which refinances mortgages for borrowers who owe more than the value of their home. The CBO estimates it will save $175 million.

The measure passed on a 256-171 vote, with all Republicans voting for it except Heck (NV-3). Democrats Altmire (PA-4), Barrow (GA-12), Boren (OK-2), Cardoza (CA-18) , Carney (DE-at large), Chandler (KY-6), Cooper (TN-5), Costa (CA-20), Cuellar (TX-28), Larsen (WA-2), Lipinski (IL-3), Matheson (UT-2), Owens (NY-23), Peterson (MN-7), Ross (AR-4), Schrader (OR-5), Shuler (NC-11), and Walz (MN-1) joined in support of the bill,

March 16, 2011

House Votes to Terminate Emergency Mortgage Relief Program

On Friday, March 11th, 2011, the House voted 242-177 to rescind the Emergency Mortgage Relief Program with HR 830, which was authorized by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. Rescission of all unobligated funds of the program will save taxpayers $840 million, and reduce the federal debt by the same amount.

All Republicans voted for the measure except for Herrera-Buetler (WA-3) and LaTourette (OH-14). Eight Democrats joined the Republicans in support of the bill: Altmire (PA-4), Barrow (GA-12), Boren (OK-2), Cardoza (CA-18), Chandler (KY-6), Costa (CA-20), Holden (PA-17), and Schrader (OR-5).

March 10, 2011

Senate Rejects Replacement Amendment to House Resolution 1

In a surprise move from eleven Democrat Senators, the Senate rejected Senate Amendment 149 sponsored by Sen. Inouye (HI).

The amendment adds $16.128 billion in spending for the remainder of the fiscal year to the House version. All Republicans voted down the amendment, along with eleven Democrats: Bennet (CO), Hagan (NC), Kohl (WI), Levin (MI), Manchin (WV), McCaskill (MO), Nelson (FL), Nelson (NE), Sanders (VT), Udall (CO), and Webb (VA).

The federal government continues to operate on an interim budget which expires on March 18th. Failure of this amendment and on the vote for the full House measure means that there remain eight days for both houses to come up with a continuing appropriations bill before a shutdown of all non-essential services by the federal government.

March 6, 2011

Two Month Report of House Republican Performance

After two months into the new session of Congress with a new crop of freshman voted into office by Americans concerned with the growth of government, the new Republican majority has made some gains in changing the direction of legislation.

It is difficult to ascertain just how much effect the Tea Party has had on the actions of the Republican House members though; the members who have joined Rep. Michele Bachmann’s Tea Party Caucus have not shown voting records distinctly different from that of their colleagues, nor has the freshman class distinguished itself significantly either. The overall average of the Republican voting score stands now at 81.9%, the freshman Republicans’ average score is 82.5%, and the Tea Party Caucus members’ average score stands at 83.5%.  While these show some difference in pure numbers, none are statistically significant, as the standard deviation is 6.9.

It may be suggested that a general tendency among all Republicans to vote in a more conservative direction is taking place, but it is next to impossible to prove, as there is no control population to test it against.

Time will tell how the different members either go back to voting in patterns of business as usual, or becoming more principled in their stances. The score chart will undoubtedly change for many members, and will prove to be an invaluable guide for voters in next year’s primaries in deciding whether their particular representative needs to be replaced or kept in office.


March 4, 2011

Senate Rejects Balanced Budget Amendment Proposal

Senator Lee of Utah proposed  S Amdt 115 to express the sense of the Senate that Congress should pass and the States should agree to an amendment to the Constitution requiring a Federal balanced budget.

The measure was rejected by a vote of 58-40, with 11 Democrats joining all Republicans in this proposal, as the vote required a 3/5 majority to pass. Two more Democrats voting for it would have allowed the measure to proceed to further consideration.

March 4, 2011

Senate Ratifies Joint Resolution to Extend Appropriations for Two Weeks

The Senate ratified H J Res 44 which continues federal spending for FY 2011 until March 18th on a 91-9 vote.

Republicans Crapo (ID), Hatch (UT), Lee (UT), Paul (KY), and Risch (ID) voted no on the measure which proceeds to the President for his signature.

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