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Here's What's Happening in Congress

14 April 2008
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January through April is the busiest time for the four of us who staff the Key Votes Department full time, because most of the state legislatures are in session at this time. I'd like to apologize to you, Informed Voter, for the very long stretch of time since the last Congressional recap here on the blog.

There have been many Congressional key votes since January, and we won't be looking at all of them here. We're just going to go through some of the ones that received the most media attention and were the most controversial. If you would like to see a list of all the key votes that PVS has accumulated from Congress in 2008 and view their summaires, just click here. To view the summary for a particular vote, just click on the legislation's title in the middle of your screen.

Note that when you view the summary for a Congressional vote on our website, there is a link to the full text of the bill. This link takes you to the website of the Library of Congress (LOC). If there are multiple versions of the bill available, the LOC will list them all. Click here to view a description of what these various texts are for and which one is related to any specific summary.

For a general refresher on the legislative process, click here.

Read the rest of this blog entry for a recap on a few key Congressional votes from 2008.


On January 23, the House had a vote to override the veto of HR 3693, the State Children's Health Insurance (SCHIP) bill. To override a veto, a 2/3 supermajority is needed. This veto override vote failed 260-152 (to organize the roll sheet differently, just click a heading at the top of one of the columns).

The Senate on February 12 voted on an amendment to the FISA bill (S 2248). One provision in the bill provided civil immunity for telecom companies that provided information to the government during the warrentless wiretapping program. S Amdt 3907 would have stricken that immunity from the bill. The amendment failed 31-67. The bill passed 68-29.

The House had a vote on February 27 to pass HR 5351, a bill that extends renewable energy tax credits and increases taxes on oil companies. It passed 236-182.

Below are some votes for which we are still working on the summaries, but the vote breakdowns are available.

On March 13, the Senate considered an amendment to their concurrent budget resolution numbered S Amdt 4347. It would have placed a one year moratorium on "earmarks." It was ruled not germane to the bill, making it out of order to consider. There was a motion to waive this rule so the Senate could consider the amendment. The motion failed 29-71.

April 2 saw the passage of a bill providing funding for programs to combat AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in many countries around the world. Most of the programs have been going for about five years and were set to expire at the end of this year. The bill extends them for another five years and spends more than three times the funding for these programs. It passed the House 308-116. This was HR 5501.

The housing bill that has been in the news lately is HR 3221. This bill initially passed the House as a bill addressing energy issues and was changed to the housing bill in the Senate. It passed the Senate 84-12 on April 10.

Finally, the House passed a resolution on April 10 numbered H Res 1092. This resolution changes the rules in the House so that they can delay the consideration of the Columbian trade deal. The resolution passed 224-195.

The summaries for these last few votes will be up on our website shortly. Thank you, Informed Voter, for your interest in your governance. And if you have any questions concerning these pieces of legislation, please send an email to comments@votesmart.org or call our hotline at 1-888-VOTE-SMART (1-888-868-3762) and we will be happy to answer your questions.

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