Here’s how Washington members of Congress voted on major issues last week.

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Here’s how Washington members of Congress voted on major issues last week.

House

n EXTENDED JOBLESS BENEFITS: Voting 403 for and 12 against, the House on Nov. 5 sent President Obama a bill (HR 3548) that would provide 20 more weeks of jobless checks for those whose current allotments have expired or soon will expire and who live in states with at least 8.5 percent unemployment. The bill provides 14 additional weeks of benefits for the long-term jobless in all other states. The $2.4 billion cost would be offset by payroll-tax increases on employers. Jobless checks average $300 per week.

The bill also extends for five months an $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers that is set to expire Nov. 30 and increases income limits for eligibility from $150,000 to $225,000 for couples and from $75,000 to $150,000 for individuals. The bill creates a $6,500 credit for some home buyers who already own homes.

Jim McDermott, D-Wash., said Congress “must continue to provide the lifeline for the unemployed workers who have lost their jobs from no fault of their own … Sending this bill to President Obama today will accomplish that goal for over one million of our fellow citizens before the end of the year.”

John Linder, R-Ga., said it is “well past time for us to shelve Democratic job-killing tax hike agendas. We will then unleash America’s job creation engine so that laid-off workers can once again earn paychecks, not unemployment checks.”

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes:

Jay Inslee, D-1, Rick Larsen, D-2, Brian Baird, D-3, Doc Hastings, R-4, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-5, Norman Dicks, D-6, Jim McDermott, D-7, Dave Reichert, R-8, Adam Smith, D-9

Voting no:

None

Not voting:

None

n CREDIT-CARD RULES: Voting 331 for and 92 against, the House on Nov. 4 passed a bill (HR 3639) giving credit card firms a tighter deadline for starting pro-consumer policies enacted by Congress in May. Under the bill, reforms originally required to be in place by Feb. 22, 2010, would be advanced to Dec. 1. The rationale is that the sooner the rules take effect, the easier it will be for cardholders to cope with recession.

In part, the law enacted in May requires credit card firms to apply payments to the highest-interest portion of cardholder debt; freezes interest rates on new accounts for one year and locks in promotional rates for six months; requires 45 days’ notice of rate increases; prohibits changes in contract terms until renewal; bans due-date gimmickry; allows cardholders to set personal credit limits above which transactions cannot be processed, and sets 21 as the minimum age for obtaining a card in most circumstances.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes:

Inslee, Larsen, Baird, Dicks, McDermott, Reichert, Smith

Voting no:

Hastings, McMorris Rodgers

Not voting:

None

n FEDERAL RESERVE: Voting 171 for and 253 against, the House on Nov. 4 defeated a GOP bid to allow the Federal Reserve to veto the Dec. 1 deadline in HR 3639 (above) and keep Feb. 22, 2010, as the date for starting credit card reforms. The Fed is charged with overseeing credit cards under terms enacted by Congress.

A yes vote backed the GOP motion.

Voting yes:

Hastings, McMorris Rodgers, Reichert

Voting no:

Inslee, Larsen, Baird, Dicks, McDermott, Smith

Not voting:

None

n CHEMICAL-PLANT SECURITY: Voting 230 for and 193 against, the House on Nov. 6 passed a bill (HR 2868) to permanently extend chemical plant security requirements that otherwise would expire in October 2010. In part, the rules require some 6,000 facilities that manufacture or store chemicals to establish plans to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks, conduct background checks on employees and allow Department of Homeland Security inspections. The bill also requires public and private sewage-treatment facilities to put in place similar anti-terrorism measures.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes:

Inslee, Larsen, Dicks, Smith

Voting no:

Baird, Hastings, McMorris Rodgers, Reichert

Not voting:

McDermott

n ISRAEL, UNITED NATIONS: Voting 344 for and 36 against, the House on Nov. 3 denounced a United Nations report that charges Israel committed war crimes by inflicting heavy civilian casualties during war in Gaza last December and January. Prepared by South African jurist Richard Goldstone for the U.N. Human Rights Council, the report also charges Hamas with war crimes in its launching of rockets against Israeli civilians. The vote adopted H Res 867, a non-binding measure.

A yes vote backed the resolution.

Voting yes:

Inslee, Larsen, Hastings, McMorris Rodgers, Dicks, Reichert, Smith

Voting no:

Baird, McDermott

Not voting:

None

n DEMOCRATS’ HEALTH BILL: Voting 220 for and 215 against, the House on Nov. 7 passed a bill (HR 3962) that would provide affordable medical coverage to about 36 million U.S. residents who are now uncovered while overhauling insurance industry practices in ways that benefit sick as well as healthy policyholders. The bill, which awaits Senate action, seeks to extend coverage to about 96 percent of the population by 2017 while not adding to the national debt.

The bill expands Medicaid to cover an additional 15 million persons, requires employers with payrolls above $500,000 to provide insurance for their workers, and establishes an exchange for delivering coverage to individuals who do not receive insurance at work or through Medicaid or Medicare. The exchange, or marketplace, would offer private policies alongside a government-run “public option,” and would provide subsidies to help low- and middle-income individuals obtain coverage. The public option, a Medicare-style plan in which the government would negotiate rates with doctors and hospitals, would serve an estimated six million persons.

Roughly half of the bill’s projected net cost of $894 billion over ten years would be financed through measures that slow the growth rate of Medicare and Medicaid. Additionally, the bill would raise about $460 billion through a 5.4 percent surtax on individuals with adjusted gross incomes over $500,000 and couples earning over $1 million. (Surtaxes are figured on taxes owed, not adjusted gross incomes). The bill also would levy a 2.5 percent excise tax on medical devices, among other revenue-raisers.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes:

Inslee, Larsen, Dicks, McDermott, Smith

Voting no:

Baird, Hastings, McMorris Rodgers, Reichert,

Not voting:

None

n REPUBLICAN HEALTH BILL: Voting 176 for and 258 against, the House on Nov. 7 defeated a Republican alternative to HR 3962 (above) that would use $50 billion in payments to states over ten years as an incentive for them to expand health-insurance coverage and reduce medical costs for their residents. The GOP bill also would pay states at least $15 billion over ten years to finance both pools for insuring high-risk individuals and reinsurance programs to help private insurers cover catastrophic costs and thus lower their premium prices.

In contrast to the Democrats’ approach, the Republican measure would not require individuals to obtain insurance or employers to offer it and would allow insurance firms to continue to deny coverage or charge higher premiums on the basis of pre-existing conditions. In other differences, the GOP bill would not raise taxes, expand Medicaid, provide premium subsidies to low- and middle-income persons or require Medicare to negotiate lower costs for prescription drugs.

Additionally, the GOP bill would enable small businesses to join together to form “association” health plans that would operate across state lines with minimal government regulation; limit medical-malpractice awards; enable insurance firms to sell policies in any number of states while being strictly regulated only by their home state, and bar insurers from canceling policies after the policyholder gets sick or limiting lifetime payouts on claims.

A yes vote backed the GOP alternative.

Voting yes:

Hastings, McMorris Rodgers, Reichert

Voting no:

Inslee, Larsen, Baird, Dicks, McDermott, Smith

Not voting:

None

n ABORTION COVERAGE: Voting 240 for and 194 against, the House on Nov. 7 amended HR 3962 (above) to prohibit the bill’s public option from funding abortions and bar those with premiums subsidized by taxpayers from buying private policies that contain abortion coverage. The amendment went beyond “Hyde Amendment” language already in the bill that would bar federal funding of abortions except in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother.

The amendment was backed by pro-life groups such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and opposed by pro-choice groups such as Planned Parenthood International.

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.

Voting yes:

Hastings, McMorris Rodgers, Reichert

Voting no:

Inslee, Larsen, Baird, Dicks, McDermott, Smith

Not voting:

None

Senate

n JOBLESS BENEFITS, TAX BREAKS: Voting 98 for and none against, the Senate on Nov. 4 sent the House a bill (HR 3548, above) that would provide at least 14 more weeks of jobless checks to the long-term unemployed in all states and 20 more weeks to persons in states with unemployment rates of at least 8.5 percent.

In addition to the provisions noted above, the bill would allow large businesses to deduct net operating losses in five previous years, rather than two years under existing law. The bill also would allow certain small, indirect investors in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme to carry back their Madoff losses over five years.

No senator spoke against the bill.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes:

Maria Cantwell, D, Patty Murray, D

Voting no:

None

n JUSTICE DEPARTMENT BUDGET: Voting 71 for and 28 against, the Senate on Nov. 5 sent to conference with the House a bill (HR 2847) appropriating $64.4 billion for the fiscal 2010 budgets of the Justice and Commerce departments, the National Aeronautics and Space Agency and several other agencies. The bill represents a 12 percent spending increase over 2009.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Voting yes:

Cantwell, Murray

Voting no:

None

n 9/11 PRISONER TRIALS: Voting 54 for and 45 against, the Senate on Nov. 5 tabled (killed) an amendment to HR 2847 (above) to prohibit the government from prosecuting 9/11 terrorist suspects in federal civilian courts. The amendment sought to require suspects such as Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the alleged 9/11 architect, to be tried before military commissions. The administration wants the option of either civilian or military trials for 9/11 suspects.

Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said: “The idea that we cannot try a terrorist and mass murderer in our courts is beneath the dignity of this great country … Our federal courts have a long and distinguished history of successfully prosecuting even the most atrocious violent acts, and they are respected throughout the world.”

Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said military commissions strike the right balance between protecting both national security and the rights of the accused. “It is a system built around war, a system built around the rules of military law, a system that recognizes the difference between a common criminal and a warrior …”

A yes vote was to kill the amendment.

Voting yes:

Murray

Voting no:

Cantwell

— Thomas Voting Reports