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Here's What's Happening in Congress:

18 June 2008
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It has been nearly a month since our last update here on the legislation Congress has been voting on. Below are very brief descriptions of the votes we have selected for the Key Votes program over the last month. You can view all Congressional Key Votes selected in 2008 here.

Note that when viewing a Project Vote Smart summary, you can see the yeas and nays by clicking "How Members Voted" in the upper right. Also, when viewing the yeas and nays, you can sort the list by clicking on the titles of each column.

On May 13, the House passed HR 6022, a bill suspending the acquisition of petroleum for the strategic petroleum reserve. This bill passed by a vote of 385-25.

The Farm Bill, HR 2419, had previously passed the House and Senate, and then went to a conference committee. The conference report was adopted by the House on May 14 by a vote of 318-106. The Senate adopted the conference report by a vote of 81-15 on May 15. View the PVS summary of the legislation here. The farm bill was vetoed by the President on May 21.

Because of a clerical error, the printout of the bill that was sent to the White House was missing Title III, dealing with trade and other international issues. This error was not noticed until after the House had their veto override vote on May 21, which passed 316-108. The Senate decided to have their veto override vote anyway, even though at that time it had been discovered that the bill was missing Title III. The Senate veto override vote passed 82-13 on May 22.

Because of legal questions regarding the constitutionality of passing a bill through Congress and then sending it to the President in an incomplete form, Congress later decided to repass the bill in its entirety. The new Farm Bill is HR 6124, and is identical to the conference report version of HR 2419. It has passed the House and Senate and was vetoed by the President on June 18. Congress is expected to once again override the veto.



Another bill, HR 2642, began its life in Congress as a bill to fund military construction projects and passed the House and Senate as such in 2007, but was returned to the House and broken up into three pieces there, all of which were voted on separately. The first part provided funding for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. View the summary here. This amendment vote failed 141-149. The next part provided for certain provisions regarding Iraq, including a troop withdrawal, a ban on permanent bases, and other provisions. View this summary here. This second piece passed the House 227-196. The third piece of the bill contained what was referred to commonly as the GI Bill expansion, which contained additional education aid and other forms of assistance to veterans and also contained other domestic provisions. View the summary here. This amendment vote passed 256-166. This bill in its entirety was then sent back to the Senate. The Senate then continued to consider the bill as these three separate parts and had votes on each. The Senate added funding for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan by a vote of 70-26. View that summary here. The second part contained additional funding and had other provisions related to Iraq, including a ban on permanent military bases there. View the summary here. This amendment vote failed 34-63. The last part, again, contained the GI Bill and other domestic provisions. It passed the Senate 75-22, and you can view the summary here. These are the latest major actions to take place on this bill. The Senate and House will either have to go to a conference to resolve their differences, or the bill will be sent back to the House for additional debate on the latest Senate amendments.

The House voted on May 21 to pass HR 6049, a bill to establish and expand tax credits for alternative energy production and research. The vote was 263-160.

On May 22, the House voted on HR 6074, a bill to establish cerain regulations on OPEC. It passed 324-84.

There was a carbon emissions cap and trade plan considered by the Senate on June 6. This was S Amdt 4825 to S 3036. There was a motion to invoke cloture on the amendment, and the motion failed 48-36 (60 votes are needed to invoke cloture.).

The House voted on June 10 to provide monetary, training, and other assistance to Mexico and certain countries in Central America and the Caribbean. This was HR 6028. It passed 311-106.

The House also voted for a five-year reauthorization of Amtrak. Amtrak's last reauthorization expired in 2002. HR 6003 passed by a vote of 311-104.

HR 5749, a bill to expand unemployment benefits, passed the House 274-137 on June 12.

Until next time, Informed Voter.

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