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Here's What's Happening in Congress:

13 November 2007
Written by

Congress took many notable votes last week ranging from a trade deal with Peru, to a presidential veto override on a water resources bill, to a nomination confirmation for a new Attorney General, and more. Learn about them right here!

The conference report version of HR 1495, the Water Resoureces Development Act of 2007, passed the House 381-40 on August 1 and passed the Senate 81-12 on September 24. This bill authorizes projects for navigation, environmental restoration, and flood and storm damage reduction in many states and ends certain projects in Florida. Opponents of this measure say that it is full of earmarks and is too costly. It was vetoed by President Bush on November 2. On November 6, the House voted to override the veto 361-54 and the Senate followed on November 8 with a vote of 79-14. This marks the first time President Bush has had a veto overridden.

HR 3043, the appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, took an unusual legislative path last week. The conference committee inserted the language from HR 2642 into HR 3043. HR 2642 is the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act of 2007 and passed both chambers by a very wide margin. Normally when a bill comes out of a conference committee, it is voted on again in the House and Senate without being further amended. However, the Senate this year adopted a rule allowing them to cut language from a conference version if that language was in neither the House or Senate passage versions. Using this rule, the Senate cut the language of HR 2642 out of HR 3043 and then passed HR 3043 on November 7 by a vote of 56-37. The bill then went to the House for their concurrence on November 8. The House concurred by a vote of 274-141, sending the bill to the President. President Bush is expected to veto the bill, stating that there is too much discretionary spending included in the measure.

On November 7, the House passed a bill prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. HR 3685 passed the House by a vote of 235-184. This bill would prohibit employers from firing or failing to hire employees based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation. It would also make it illegal for labor unions to exclude persons, or employment agencies to refuse to refer persons, because of their sexual orientation. The bill provides an exemption for religious organizations.

HR 3688 authorizes the implementation of the trade deal signed between the United States and Peru on April 12, 2006. The trade deal eliminates tariffs on many goods that are produced by Peru and the United States and traded between the two countries. Both nations, according to the deal, will have to follow the standards of the International Labor Organization and enforce their own environmental standards. The authorization of this trade deal passed the House on November 8 by a vote of 285-132.

The House on November 8 voted to pass the conference version of HR 3222. HR 3222 makes non-war related appropriations for the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2008. This bill most notably contains over $200 million for European missile defense system. The conference report passed the House by a vote of 400-15.

That same day in the Senate a vote was going on to confirm the nomination of Michael B. Mukasey as the United States Attorney General. Mr. Mukasey was confirmed by a vote of 53-40. The nomination was numbered PN 958.

HR 3355 passed the House on November 8, as well, by a vote of 258-155. This bill would set up a consortium that state sponsored disaster insurance funds could join to bundle their risk exposures. They would also be able to transfer risk to the private sector through reinsurance contracts set up by the consortium, and by selling catastrophe bonds in private capital markets. This consortium would be overseen by the Departments of the Treasury, of Commerce, and of Homeland Security.

On November 9, the House passed HR 3996, the Temporary Tax Adjustments Act of 2007. This bill makes several tax changes, including the extension through 2007 of offsets against the alternative minimum tax for certain nonrefundable income tax credits, and increased alternative minimum tax exemptions for individual taxpayers. It also extends certain tax deductions for individual tax payers, and it extends certain tax credits for businesses. It passed the House by a vote of 216-193.

Look for summaries on these bills to appear on our website within the next few days.

The Key Votes Department and Project Vote Smart thank you for remaining The Informed Voter.

Related tags: 2007, blog, Congressional-Snapshots, key-votes

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