Voterama in Congress, week ending Aug. 3, 2012
How Illinois lawmakers voted in Congress Week ending August 3
Updated: August 30, 2012 12:55PM
U.S. House of Representatives
District of Columbia Abortions: Members failed, 220-154, to reach a two-thirds majority needed to pass a bill (HR 3803) to outlaw abortion in the District of Columbia after the 20th week of pregnancy. This defied a Supreme Court ruling in Roe vs. Wade that abortion is legal until the fetus becomes viable, usually early in the third trimester. A yes vote was to pass the bill.
Census Bureau, Senate Confirmations: Members voted, 261-116, to send President Obama a bill setting five-year terms for directors of the U.S. census to protect them from political influence. A yes vote backed a bill (S 679) that also reduces from about 1,200 to about 1,000 the number of presidential appointees other than judges subject to the Senate’s cumbersome confirmation process.
Iran Sanctions: Members voted, 421-6, to toughen U.S. economic sanctions on Iran. A yes vote was to pass a bill denying access to U.S. financial markets to any global entity whose investments or purchases boost Iran’s nuclear program. The bill (HR 1905) was to be signed by President Obama.
GOP Tax Cuts: Members passed, 256-171, a GOP bill to extend Bush-era tax cuts for all incomes through 2013. The bill also keeps estate taxes low, retains 15 percent as the capital-gains and dividends rate and allows certain credits for the working poor to expire. A yes vote backed HR 8.
Democratic Tax Cuts: Members defeated, 170-257, a Democratic bill to extend Bush tax cuts through 2013 for couples with incomes under $250,000 and singles under $200,000, or 98 percent of taxpayers. A yes vote was to also raise taxes next year on the top 2 percent of payers. (HR 8)
GOP Tax Code: Members passed, 232-189, a bill stating the House Republicans’ wish list for any overhaul of the Tax Code debated in the next Congress. A yes vote called for making the code flatter, closing loopholes, ending breaks, cutting rates and limiting tax revenue to 18 or 19 percent of GDP (HR 6169)
Home-Mortgage Deduction: Members defeated, 188-235, a Democratic motion stating that any Tax Code overhaul should retain deductions for home mortgages and charitable contributions. The underlying bill (HR 6169) did not identify tax breaks Republicans would like to see repealed. A yes vote backed the motion.
Emergency Drought Aid: Members approved, 223-197, $383 million this year in drought aid for livestock producers and certain other recipients. The aid awaits Senate action. A yes vote backed the aid over criticism of House GOP leaders for having delayed a new farm bill. (HR 6233)
Cyber-Security Impasse: Senators failed, 52-46, to reach 60 votes for ending GOP blockage of a bill setting up a voluntary system to help companies fend off cyber-attacks that could cause chaos in America. A yes vote was to advance the bill (S 3414) over U.S. Chamber of Commerce arguments it is government overreach into the private sector.
Federal Judge Gershwin Drain: Senators confirmed, 55-41, Gershwin A. Drain, a Michigan state judge, as a federal judge for the Eastern District of Michigan. A yes vote supported Drain over criticism of views he has expressed about the National Rifle Association and capital punishment.
Key votes ahead
None is anticipated for several weeks, as Congress is in recess until the week of Sept. 10.