Fiscal 2010 budget splits Maine’s delegation

Posted April 03, 2009, at 7:35 p.m.

HOW THEY VOTED: MAINE’S CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION, MARCH 27-APRIL 2, 2009

House votes

Democratic Reps. Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree

Vote 1: Act to Fund Postpartum Depression Research: The House passed the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act (HR 20), sponsored by Rep. Bobby L. Rush, D-Ill., to authorize grants for research into postpartum depression and psychosis. Supporters called the bill “an affordable approach to research and services” for mothers suffering from postpartum de-pression and added that “this is good policy, good politics and a good public health bill.” The vote, on March 30, was 391 yeas to 8 nays.

YEAS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 2: Wakefield Act to Improve Medical Care for Children: The House approved the Wakefield Act (HR 479), sponsored by Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, to reauthorize the Emergency Medical Services for Children grant program. Supporters said the bill was backed by more than 50 medical groups and would help “ensure that our nation’s children have the best possible medical care during emergencies.” The vote, on March 30, was 390 yeas to 6 nays.

YEAS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 3: Dextromethorphan Distribution Act: The House approved the Dextromethorphan Distribution Act (HR 1259), sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., to restrict the sale of dextromethorphan, the active ingredient in most over-the-counter cough and cold medicines, to businesses registered with the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Supporters said that when abused, the drug “can cause brain damage, seizures, and even death,” and so the bill was needed to ensure “that DXM is used only for legitimate purposes and stays out of the hands of drug dealers and adolescents.” The vote, on March 31, was 407 yeas to 8 nays.

YEAS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 4: Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act: The House approved Senate amendments to the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act (HR 1388), sponsored by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., to reauthorize national service laws. Supporters said the bill “will build a national infrastructure for service and volunteerism” and will increase “national service participation while providing much-needed streamlining to reduce administrative burdens.” Opponents said “the removal of important provisions” from the bill meant its amended version failed to prevent the waste of taxpayer funds. The vote, on March 31, was 275 yeas to 149 nays.

YEAS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 5: Vision Care for Kids Act: The House approved the Vision Care for Kids Act (HR 577), sponsored by Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, to provide Health and Human Services grants to states for eye exams and the treatment of eye problems in children. Supporters said the bill will “provide follow-up vision care for children with vision disorders,” preventing “ir-reversible damage that can hinder a child’s normal growth, development and opportunity to succeed.” The vote, on March 31, was 404 yeas to 17 nays.

YEAS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 6: Disclosing Health Insurance Limitations: The House approved the Health Insurance Restrictions and Limitations Clarification Act of 2009 (HR 1253), sponsored by Rep. Michael C. Burgess, D-Texas, to require group health care providers to explicitly inform plan participants of limitations in their coverage. Sponsors said “the lack of clarity underlying these exclusions has created a confusing situation for individuals” meaning they could be “caught off guard by exclusions buried deep within an insurance plan.” The vote, on March 31, was 422 yeas to 3 nays.

YEAS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 7: Act to Recover Bonuses: The House rejected the End Government Reimbursement of Excessive Executive Disbursements (HR 1575), sponsored by Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., which would have authorized the attorney general to pursue the recovery of bonuses paid to employees at companies receiving bailout funds from the federal government. Supporters said the bill would prevent companies using funds “to supposedly save them from bankruptcy” to instead pay “outrageous bonuses” to their employees. Opponents argued that “bonuses that Congress and the president specifically ratified” were not fraudulent and that the bill would be “an unconstitutional taking of contractual rights.” The vote, on April 1, was 223 yeas to 196 nays.

YEAS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 8: Pay for Performance Act: The House passed the Pay for Performance Act (HR 1664), sponsored by Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., to establish new performance standards to compensate employees at companies receiving federal funds under the Troubled Assets Relief Program. Supporters said the bill created “commonsense restrictions” on employee pay to ensure that it was not “excessive or unreasonable.” Opponents protested assigning authority for the government to determine “reasonable compensation” and warned that it was expanding “the control of the federal government into not only the private sector but into all aspects of our lives.” The vote, on April 1, was 247 yeas to 171 nays.

YEAS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 9: Act for Smoking Prevention: The House has passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (HR 1256), sponsored by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., to provide the Food and Drug Administration with the authority to regulate tobacco products in the interest of public health. Proponents noted that the legislation “would require cigarette manufacturers to print warning labels with text warnings detailing the smoking-related diseases such as lung, heart, or mouth cancer,” as a deterrent. Opponents said bill was merely a “feel good” bill that wouldn’t help people quit smoking and wouldn’t do much more than make government bigger, saying, “an already dysfunctional and overburdened FDA will be-come even more distracted by this new Big Government program.” The vote, on April 2, was 298 yeas to 112 nays.

YEAS: Michaud, Pingree

Vote 10: House Passes Budget for 2010: The House has passed the federal budget resolution (HConRes 85), sponsored by Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., that will establish a congressional budget for the federal government for fiscal 2010. The resolution also included budgetary levels for fiscal 2009, and fiscal 2011-14. Proponents noted it was the duty of Congress to honor the promises made to Americans to support health care reform, energy independence and education by moving away from past failed policies. Opponents said that Democrats “failed to recognize that the tax burden, with this energy tax imposed on any family that turns the light switch on, is going to be overwhelmingly strong.” The vote, on April 2, was 233 yeas to 196 nays.

YEAS: Michaud, Pingree

Senate votes

Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins

Vote 1: Ensuring Climate Change Bill Keeps Costs Low: The Senate approved an amendment sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., to the 2010 budget resolution (SConRes 13) to require that climate change legislation not produce an increase in energy and other costs for consumers. Supporters said the amendment would ensure that the bill “is not going to hurt consumers but actually keep them whole and clean up their environment.” Opponents claimed the bill would mean that “the average American family will see their energy bills increase up to $3,128 each year.” The vote, on March 31, was 54 yeas to 43 nays.

NAYS: Collins, Snowe

Vote 2: Requiring Supermajority to Approve Budget Debts: The Senate rejected an amendment sponsored by Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., to the 2010 budget resolution (SConRes 13) that would have required a 60-vote majority in the Senate to approve any budget resolution that projected an increase in government debt over the next 10 years equal to or greater than the total debt accumulated from 1789 to 2009. Supporters said the amendment would “highlight and make it clear to the American public” the amount of debt being incurred and the associated risk to the U.S. going forward. Opponents said it “would jeopardize those very disciplines that can help us hold down deficits and debt” by offering a cure “worse than the disease” of indebtedness. The vote, on March 31, was 43 yeas to 54 nays.

YEAS: Collins, Snowe

Vote 3: Freezing Discretionary Spending in Fiscal 2010-11: The Senate rejected an amendment sponsored by Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., to the 2010 budget resolution (SConRes 13) that would have frozen discretionary spending not related to defense for fiscal 2010-11 and limited its growth to 1 percent annually in fiscal 2012-14. Supporters said the amendment would “contain spending and save $200 billion over five years” by using “reasonable and responsible” budgeting levels. Opponents said “freezing domestic spending would be a mistake at a time of sharp economic downturn.” The vote, on April 1, was 40 yeas to 58 nays.

YEAS: Snowe

NAYS: Collins

Vote 4: Requiring Supermajority to Approve Small Business Tax Increases: The Senate approved an amendment sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, to the 2010 budget resolution (SConRes 13) that would require any legislation raising income taxes on small businesses to receive 60-vote majorities in the Senate. Supporters said that small businesses “are now threatened by a proposed tax increase” and the amendment would create “an insurance policy” against efforts by Congress to raise taxes on small businesses. The vote, on April 1, was 82 yeas to 16 nays.

YEAS: Collins, Snowe

Vote 5: Barring Use of Reconciliation Process for Climate Change Bill: The Senate approved an amendment sponsored by Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., to the 2010 budget resolution (SConRes 13) that would bar the Senate from using the budget reconciliation process to consider proposed cap-and-trade legislation for limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Support-ers said reconciliation “was never designed to pass complex legislation such as climate change.” Opponents said the amendment was an unprecedented bid to take “a legal Senate procedure off the table” and was supported by senators who “want to be able to obstruct progress.” The vote, on April 1, was 67 yeas to 31 nays.

YEAS: Collins, Snowe

Vote 6: Preventing Government Health Care Rationing: The Senate rejected an amendment sponsored by Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., to the 2010 budget resolution (SconRes 13) that would have barred federal health care programs from denying coverage or services on the basis of research into the comparative effectiveness of treatment options. Supporters said the amendment would “ensure that nothing we have done so far here will allow health care in the United States to be rationed by the federal government.” Opponents said the research only attempted to determine “the treatment regimes that are most effective at treating different disease states,” and therefore the amendment was not needed. The vote, on April 1, was 44 yeas to 54 nays.

YEAS: Collins, Snowe

Vote 7: Senate passes budget for Fiscal 2010: The Senate has passed the federal budget resolution (SConRes 13) sponsored by Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., that will define the federal budget for the U.S. government for fiscal 2010. The resolution also determined budgetary levels for fiscal 2011-14. Proponents noted that, despite Republican remarks to the contrary, the budget would reduce the national deficit by two-thirds during its five-year term and that it extended middle-class tax relief items such as the child tax credit, the marriage penalty relief and education incentives. Opponents worried about the spending allowed for in the budget which they noted would actually triple the national debt despite other measure that would seem to reduce it. The vote, on April 2, was 55 yeas to 43 nays.

NAYS: Collins, Snowe

Compiled for the Bangor Daily News by Target News Service.

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