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Recently in Congress / How our representatives voted

>HOUSE

Religious Freedom in Asia -- The House passed a bill, sponsored by Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., that would establish a special envoy to promote religious freedom for religious minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia.

Wolf said the bill would "send a clear and unequivocal message to both the persecutors and the persecuted that the United States of America stands with those whose most basic freedom -- the right to worship according to the dictates of conscience-- is under assault."

The vote July 29, was 402 yeas to 20 nays.

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Reps. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, Y; Kathleen C. Hochul, D-Amherst, Y; Tom Reed, R-Corning, Y; Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport, Y.

Raising the Debt Ceiling -- The House passed an amendment to the Budget Control Act, sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. The amendment would raise the debt ceiling by $900 billion, cut spending by $917 billion, establish a joint select committee on deficit reduction, and require a vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

A supporter, Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., said the bill would help "ensure that we are able to decrease spending, getting to the root cause of the problem, and at the same time, do what we all know has to be done and that is increase the debt ceiling."

An opponent, Rep. Slaughter, said the bill would make "controversial and unacceptable cuts" to spending, and she added that "we should abolish the debt limit altogether and never face a crisis like this again of whether we will be a responsible country that pays our bills."

The vote July 29, was 218 yeas to 210 nays.

Higgins, N; Slaughter, N; Hochul, N; Reed, Y.

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Budget Control Act -- The House rejected the Budget Control Act, sponsored by Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif. The bill would have raised the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion and outlined $2.4 trillion of spending cuts over the next 10 years.

Dreier said he opposed his bill, which was proposed by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and called on Congress to instead work on a "bipartisan compromise to achieve the goal that we all say that we share" of cutting the deficit while raising the debt ceiling. A supporter, Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said the bill "achieves tremendous savings without decimating Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security," and called it "the best approach that is on the table right now."

The vote July 30, was 173 yeas to 246 nays, with a two-thirds majority required for approval.

Higgins, Y; Slaughter, Y; Hochul, Y; Reed, A.

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Consumer Product Safety Laws -- The House passed a bill, sponsored Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., that would give the Consumer Product Safety Commission greater authority and discretion in enforcing consumer product safety laws. Bono Mack said the bill would provide manufacturers and retailers with relief from unintended consequences of new consumer safety mandates that she said threatened "the survival of scores of businesses and the livelihoods of the individuals and families those businesses support."

The vote last Monday was 421 yeas to 2 nays.

Higgins, Y; Slaughter, Y; Hochul, Y; Reed, Y.

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Soldiers and Foreign Spouses -- The House passed a bill, sponsored by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., that would relieve foreign spouses of military service members deployed overseas from having to travel to the United States for interviews for their petitions to become permanent residents.

Lofgren said the bill would alleviate soldiers' anxiety about the status of their spouses by offering relief from one of the burdens "of our rigid and unyielding immigration system." The vote last Monday was unanimous with 426 yeas.

Higgins, Y; Slaughter, Y; Hochul, Y; Reed, Y.

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Budget Control Act -- The House passed the Budget Control Act, sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. The bill would raise the debt limit by between $2.1 trillion and $2.4 trillion and cut spending by a similar amount, require Congress to vote on a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution this year, and charge a 12-member congressional committee with proposing legislation by Nov. 23 to make further deficit cuts.

A supporter, Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., said the bill signaled the intent of Congress to adopt "fiscal restraint and responsibility" and cut the deficit in coming years.

An opponent, Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., said it "protects special interests at the expense of America's working families, children, senior citizens, people who've lost their jobs, and people with disabilities."

The vote last Monday was 269 yeas to 161 nays.

Higgins, Y; Slaughter, N; Hochul, Y; Reed, Y.

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>SENATE

Raising the Debt Ceiling -- The Senate tabled a motion to concur in the House amendment to the Budget Control Act, sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

The amendment would raise the debt ceiling, make budget deficit reductions, and require a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

A supporter, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said the amendment offered "reforms that would keep us from getting into a fiscal crisis of this magnitude again." An opponent, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said it would "attack the fundamental underpinnings of a successful middle class, such as Medicare, Social Security, Pell grants."

The vote July 28, was 59 yeas to 41 nays.

Sens. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Y; Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., Y.

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Increasing Debt Ceiling -- The Senate rejected a cloture motion to cut off debate on the House amendment to the Debt Limit Increase Bill, sponsored by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. The bill would have raised the debt ceiling by $2.4 trillion and outlined $2.4 trillion of spending cuts over the next 10 years. Reid said the amendment was a bipartisan compromise that would avert a debt crisis and "set this country on the path to fiscal accountability" by charging a committee with developing recommendations for changes to the government's budgeting. The vote July 31 was 50 yeas to 49 nays, with a three-fifths majority required to approve cloture.

Gillibrand, Y; Schumer Y.

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Raising the Debt Ceiling -- The Senate passed the Budget Control Act, sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. The bill would raise the debt limit by between $2.1 trillion and $2.4 trillion and cut spending by a similar amount, require Congress to vote on a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution this year, and charge a 12-member congressional committee with proposing legislation by Nov. 23 to make further deficit cuts.

A supporter, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., called the bill "an important step in the right direction, toward stopping Washington from spending money it doesn't have."

An opponent, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said it "does not sufficiently provide us with the solution to the debt crisis that the markets are demanding" because of a lack of adequate measures to cut the deficit. The vote Tuesday was 74 yeas to 26 nays.

Gillibrand, N; Schumer Y.

Information for this column is supplied by Targeted News Service.

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