How your lawmakers voted

March 22, 2006

The Sun brings you a weekly report of key votes in Congress.

Issues before Congress last week

IN THE SENATE

Debt ceiling increase

Senators voted, 52-48, to raise the national debt ceiling by $781 billion, to $8.965 trillion. U.S. debt has risen by $3 trillion since President Bush took office, senators from both parties noted in debate. A yes vote was to raise federal borrowing authority.

2007-2011 federal budget

Senators approved, 51-49, a five-year budget that sets revenue, spending and deficit policies through fiscal 2011. For 2007, the plan anticipates spending of $2.8 trillion and a deficit of $359 billion. A yes vote was to adopt the budget blueprint.

Entitlement curbs

Senators refused, 43-57, to slow the growth of entitlement spending by $10 billion over the next five years. President Bush requested $65 billion in such curbs, but the measure ignores his request. A yes vote was to partially comply with Bush's request.

U.S. port security

Senators refused, 43-53, to raise port-security spending in the fiscal 2007 budget by $965 million, obtaining the funds by closing corporate tax loopholes. A yes vote backed the spending over arguments the bill already provided $2 billion to secure borders, ports.

"Pay as you go"

On a 50-50 tie vote, senators refused to reinstate the "pay as you go" rule that requires tax cuts or entitlement spending increases to be offset in the budget, or receive 60 votes for approval. A yes vote was to revive the rule over GOP arguments it is a back-door tax increase.

Medicare drug plan

On a 49-49 tie vote, senators refused to extend the sign-up deadline for the Medicare prescription drug plan from May 15 to the end of 2006. Senators left the decision up to the administration. A yes vote was to extend the Medicare drug plan signup deadline.

Amtrak budget

Senators refused, 44-53, to increase the Amtrak budget by $550 million, to the $1.45 billion level needed to fully operate the rail passenger agency. A yes vote was to raise the Amtrak budget and offset the rise by closing tax loopholes.

War, Katrina spending

Members passed, 348-71, an emergency appropriations bill providing $67.6 billion for war in Iraq and Afghanistan and $19 billion for Gulf Coast hurricane recovery. This raises Iraq-Afghanistan outlays to $400 billion since 9/11. A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Deficit dispute

Members defeated, 89-332, an amendment to strip $19 billion for Gulf Coast hurricane recovery, on grounds that the sum is not emergency spending and thus is subject to normal restraints on deficit spending. A yes was to approve the amendment.

U.S. port security

Members defeated, 208-210, an amendment to increase spending for U.S. port security by $1.2 billion in fiscal 2006. In part, the added funds were to be used to expand overseas checks of U.S.-bound containers. A yes vote backed the amendment.

U.S. port operations

Members refused, 38-377, to strip a pending appropriations bill of its ban on Dubai Ports World operating any U.S. port. The ban was added to the bill before the Arab firm decided to pull out of a deal to operate U.S. ports. A yes vote was to strip the ban from the bill.

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