How your lawmakers voted

May 31, 2006

The Sun brings you a weekly report of key votes in Congress. Congress will be in recess until the week starting Monday.

Issues before Congress last week

Farm worker wages

Senators tabled, 50-43, an amendment to hold down pay for low-skilled farm workers in a pending immigration bill (S 2611). This killed a bid to limit the pay of these immigrants to the prevailing local wage, which would be lower than in a regional scale set by the bill.

Military border control

Senators voted, 83-10, to codify President Bush's executive decision to send 6,000 National Guard troops to the Mexican border in the next year. The measure bars direct police actions and limits their stay. A yes vote backed the amendment to S 2611.

Immigration bill cost

Senators voted, 67-31, to waive Congressional Budget Act limits on the extent to which S 2611 can worsen the national debt. The bill is projected to cost taxpayers $52 billion through 2015. The waiver would sanction its cost in 2016 and later years.

Immigration

Senators voted, 62-36, to tighten U.S. borders, establish English as the national language, begin a new guestworker program and provide 90 percent of the 12 million undocumented U.S. residents with legal status and a chance at citizenship. A yes vote was to pass the bill.

Asylum seekers

Senators voted, 52-45, to set a lower standard of evidence for the early stages of asylum cases. A yes vote backed a standard of "substantial evidence" that the immigrant would face persecution if returned home, in place of a "clear and convincing evidence" test in the immigration bill.

More inclusive plan

Senators defeated, 37-61, a bid to scrap the system in S 2611 for dealing with an estimated 12 million illegal U.S. residents. A yes vote backed a substitute plan to accept all illegal aliens here as of Jan. 1, 2006, but set high hurdles for them to earn legal status.

CIA Director Hayden

Senators confirmed, 78-15, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, 61, as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Backers called him the right choice to restore the CIA to effectiveness, while foes criticized his role in the administration's domestic surveillance program.

Oil subsidy

Members defeated, 161-255, a bid to strip a fiscal 2007 energy bill (HR 5427) of $50 million for the Ultra-Deep Program in which universities and the oil industry seek to develop deepdrilling

Technology for the Gulf of Mexico. A yes vote was to remove the funds from the bill.

Nuclear power

Members refused, 128-295, to cut $40 million in HR 5427 from a program to expand nuclear power and resume U.S. nuclear fuel reprocessing after a 30-year hiatus. This left $130 million in the bill for the Global Nuclear Partnership Program. A yes vote backed the cut.

Arctic drilling

Members voted, 225-201, to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. The bill sets aside 1.5 million of the refuge's 19 million pristine acres for energy extraction, with 2,000 acres directly affected. A yes vote was to send he bill to the Senate.

Global warming

Members refused, 70-251, to increase Federal Emergency Management Agency spending by $500,000 for a study of the effects of global warming on hurricanes and other weather patterns.

A yes vote was to add the funds to FEMA's fiscal 2007 appropriations bill.

To contact your lawmakers and find out the district in which you live, go to baltimoresun.com/representatives

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