Key House votes / Session 1
September 25, 2007
In this 265 to 159 vote the House passed an expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program. The bill also passed the Senate by a vote of 68 to 31. The bill increases total funding for the program to $60 billion over the next five years and provides health insurance for 9 million currently uninsured American children. The $7 billion yearly expansions were a major sticking point for the White House and ultimately lead to the fourth presidential veto from the Bush administration. The measure is a key agenda item for the Democratic majority in Congress, and Democratic leaders have vowed to push for a veto override, which would require a two-thirds vote. White House press secretary Dana Perino criticized Democrats for sending the president a bill she said they knew would be dead on arrival. “They made their political point,” Perino said. The White House contended that the 61-cent increase in the federal tobacco tax would not be able to recoup the required funds needed to fund the bill. White House officials also argued the measure would push millions of children already covered by private health insurance into publicly financed health care program
August 4, 2007
This amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 passed 227-183 on August 4. The bill gives U.S. spy agencies expanded power to eavesdrop on foreign suspects without a court order. The bill gives the Director of National Intelligence and the Attorney General authorization for periods up to one year, to information concerning suspected terrorists outside the United States. The existing Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act contained a 30-year-old statute requiring a warrant to monitor calls intercepted in the United States, regardless of their origin. The new Protect America Act amends this stipulation, allowing U.S. intelligence officials to monitor suspicious communication originating inside the U.S. The Bush administration argued that it needs the expanded power to confront terrorist threats. Civil liberties and privacy advocates argue the bill jeopardizes the Fourth Amendment privacy rights and allows for the warrantless monitoring of virtually any form of communication originating in the United States. Democrats managed a minor victory requiring a sunset clause effective 180 days after the bill is signed. In place of a court's approval, the National Security Agency plans to institute a system of internal bureaucratic controls. The bill passed in the Senate 60-28, and was sent to the White House soon after to be signed into law.
July 27, 2007
This amendment to the Homeland Security Act of 2002 was made in order to implement the recommendations made by the 9/11 commission. Different versions of the bill were passed in the House on Jan. 9 and in the Senate on July 9. A modified version of the bill, with conference report changes, was revisited on July 27 and passed by a vote of 371-40. The bill requires the inspection of all cargo traveling on passenger aircrafts and establishes the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. This panel, suggested by the 9/11 commission, is responsible for advising the president and senior White House officials maintaining respect for privacy laws and civil liberties. Other provisions of the bill include grants to states, urban areas, regions, or directly eligible tribes to be used to improve the ability for first responders to react to and prevent terrorist attacks, according to the Congressional Research Service. The bill also outlined details regarding the detention and treatment of captured terrorists. The bill was signed into law by President Bush on August 3.
July 12, 2007
This bill would require the president to begin reducing the number of U.S. troops serving in Iraq 120 days after its enactment and would require most troops to be withdrawn by April 1, 2008. The bill also states that the 2002 congressional authorization for the Iraq war only authorized the president use force to confront an Iraqi government that threatened the United States. The measure says that the new Iraqi government is not a threat and that it "now be responsible for Iraq's future course." Language in the bill requires the president to submit a "comprehensive strategy" for Iraq to certain congressional committees by January 1, 2008 and requires him to update that strategy again in July, 2008 and every 90 days thereafter. The bill passed the House on July 12 by a vote of 223 to 201. President Bush has promised to veto any bill that sets a deadline for troop withdrawal.
May 24, 2007
This bill would provide funding in Iraq without setting withdrawal deadlines for troops, which anti-war Democrats sought in an earlier bill. Instead, it would set “benchmarks for progress that the Iraqi government must meet to continue receiving reconstruction aid,” the Washington Post reported. The bill would provide $100 billion in funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. This includes emergency supplemental appropriations for the Department of Defense, specifically for operation and maintenance, military personnel, the security forces of both countries and the Defense Health Program. The Washington Post reported that President Bush, “who had vowed to veto any legislation with restrictions on troop deployment,” said he would sign the bill. He must make his first report to Congress on progress in Iraq by July 15. The bill, which was passed 280-142 on May 24, 2007, did not receive support from the majority of House Democrats, with 140 opposing the bill. Out of 196 voting Republicans, two rejected the funding bill. Congress needed to act on this bill because war funding would have ended on May 28. In addition to war funding, the bill would designate another $17 billion to unrelated domestic spending, including $6.4 billion for Gulf Coast hurricane recovery, along with $3 billion for emergency draught and natural disaster relief for farmers. It would set aside $1 billion for improving port and mass-transit security. It would also provide a $650 million increase in children’s health care funding. An additional $3 billion would go toward converting U.S. military bases that plan to close. “Other domestic beneficiaries include state HIV grant programs, mine safety research, youth violence prevention activities and pandemic flu protection.”
April 25, 2007
<p>House and Senate conferees approved this legislation providing $124.2 billion primarily for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and setting benchmarks and a timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, but President Bush vetoed the bill on May 1. </p> <p>The measure, which also addresses a wide variety of unrelated issues, makes emergency supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.</p> <p>The conference agreement on H.R. 1591 also aims to improve health care for returning soldiers and veterans. It addresses needs related to hurricane recovery for the Gulf Coast, bolsters homeland security programs and provides emergency drought relief for farmers.</p> <p>The legislation says that troops in Iraq would not have their service extended beyond a year for any tour of duty. It also mandates that the president must certify that the Iraqi government is meeting certain diplomatic and security benchmarks. If that certification is made, deployment would begin no later than Oct. 1, 2007, with a goal of completing the redeployment by within 180 days. Some U.S. forces could remain in Iraq for special counterterrorism efforts along with protection, training and equipping Iraqi troops.</p> <p>According to a bill summary provided by the House Appropriations Committee, the legislation seeks to make it possible for the U.S. military to focus resources on al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and to destroy his base of operations in Afghanistan. </p> <p>The conference report also provides $3 billion for special vehicles designed to withstand roadside bombs, and it increases from 20 to 270 the number of heavy and light armored vehicles authorized to be purchased for force protection purposes in Iraq and Afghanistan. It prohibits government funds from being used to establish any military installation or base for a permanent stationing of U.S. armed forces in Iraq and does not allow funds to be used to exercise U.S. control over any Iraqi oil resource.</p> <p>It does not fund two Joint Strike fighters and five of six electronic attack airplanes because lawmakers say they are not urgent.</p> <p>The conference agreement provides $268 million for the FBI, that’s about $150 million above the president’s request. The agency’s budget includes $10 million for the FBI to implement the Office of Inspector General’s recommendations about the use of special secret subpoenas called national security letters.</p> <p>On the homeland security front, it provides funding for port and mass transit security as well as other similar investments for a total of $2.25 billion.</p> <p>Meanwhile, farmers and ranchers would get $3.5 billion to help ameliorate agricultural disasters. The agreement also includes emergency funding for forest firefighting, low-income home energy assistance and pandemic flu preparations.</p> <p>The legislation includes $5 billion for health care for returning troops and veterans, $8.9 billion for victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. It also offers approximately $650 million for a children’s state health insurance program.</p> <p>It phases in a federal minimum wage increase to $7.25 an hour and applies the increase to the Northern Mariana Islands. It also amends tax law to allow certain benefits for small businesses that were not included in the House or Senate bills.</p> <p>It provides an additional $17 million for domestic violence programs.</p> <p>Among many other things, it makes additional fiscal 2008 appropriations for the U.S. Agency for International Development along with funding for a program aiding Africa, and monies for international narcotics control and enforcement, refugee assistance and international broadcasting operations.</p>
March 23, 2007
<p>The bill offers supplemental appropriations to help the United States fight the global war on terror, among other things. However, President Bush has vowed to veto the bill because it includes a timeline for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. The measure prohibits the use of funds offered under the act to deploy any troops to Iraq unless the military has certified to congressional appropriators in advance that the military unit is fully mission-capable. The measure authorizes the president to waive the prohibition and deployment limits on a unit-by-unit basis for reasons of national security. </p> <p>It also sets requirements for Department of Homeland Security contracts, subcontracts and task orders. And it requires that each federal agency that has awarded at least $1 billion in the preceding fiscal year to develop and implement a plan to minimize the use of no-bid and cost-reimbursement contracts.</p> <p>The bill also offers funds for disaster relief and recovery related to hurricanes Katrina and Rita, funds influenza pandemic response programs, offers livestock disaster assistance, and makes appropriations to bolster Medicare and Medicaid.</p> <p>It amends fair labor laws to phase-in an increase to the federal minimum wage to $7.25 per hour. It applies these wage requirements to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and to American Samoa.</p> <p>It addresses several tax issues by including tax breaks for small businesses, makes certain dependents ineligible for the lowest capital gains rate and lengthens the period of failure to notify a taxpayer of liability before interest and certain penalties must be suspended. The measure increases the amount of any required installment of estimated tax otherwise due in 2012 from a corporation with assets of $1 billion or more.</p>
February 16, 2007
This measure expresses the House's disagreement with President Bush's planned troop buildup in Iraq. The nonbinding resolution pledges support for U.S. personnel serving "bravely and honorably in Iraq" but says Congress "disapproves" of the president’s plan to add more than 20,000 combat troops. The resolution was approved 246 to 182. Seventeen Republicans joined 229 Democrats in support of the resolution. Two Democrats opposed the measure. While the 95-word resolution has no legal weight to force the president to change his course in Iraq, it marks a first key showdown between the White House and the new Congress controlled by Democrats.
January 18, 2007
This bill would repeal tax cuts to oil companies and mandate that they pay a fee to remove oil from the Gulf of Mexico. It would also fund renewable energy programs. The act would repeal a tax break that oil and gas firms received in 2004. That break effectively lowered their corporate tax rates. It would also bar oil companies from bidding on new federal leases unless they pay a fee or renegotiate improperly drafted leases from the late ‘90s. Those leases did not require royalty payments on Gulf of Mexico oil production. Oil firms would pay a “conservation fee” for oil taken from the gulf. <br> <br> Additionally, the bill would set aside an estimated $13 billion to $15 billion in revenues over a five-year period for tax breaks relating to renewable energy sources, according to The Washington Post. <br> <br> The bill was designed to reduce the United States’ dependency on foreign oil by investing in alternative energy sources. However, critics say it actually would decrease domestic oil production so the country would rely more heavily on imported oil. <br> <br> The House passed the bill on Jan. 18, 2007, with a vote of 264-163. All House Democrats except one favored the bill. They were joined by 36 Republicans. The Senate must debate the bill. <br> <br> The Washington Post reported that the Bush Administration opposed repealing the tax break for oil companies when other manufacturing industries benefited from the 2004 reductions. It also frowned on forcing companies to renegotiate their Gulf of Mexico leases.
January 17, 2007
This bill would lower the interest rate on student loans. <br> <br> The legislation would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 and decrease the interest rate on federally subsidized student loans from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent in stages over five years. It would impact undergraduate student borrowers in the Federal Family Education Loan and Direct Loan programs. <br> <br> Interest rates would decrease to 6.12 percent in 2007, 5.44 percent in 2006 and continue to drop until they reach 3.4 percent in 2011. The first reduced interest rate would apply on loans disbursed on or after July 1, 2007. <br> <br> The Washington Post reported that the bill's projected $6 billion cost would be offset by trimming federal interest rate subsidies and raising fees on loan providers. Bill authors said a borrower with $13,800 in student loan debt would save $4,400 over the life of the loan according to The Post. <br> <br> Other provisions of the bill include lender insurance changes and increased loan fees for borrowers. <br> <br> The House passed the bill on Jan. 17, 2007, with a vote of 356-71. All House Democrats voted for the bill, joined by 124 Republicans.