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The conservative index: our second look at the 109th Congress shows how every member of the House and Senate voted on key issues, including foreign aid, the Patriot Act, and CAFTA.

House Vote Descriptions

11 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations. This mammoth social-welfare appropriations bill (H.R. 3010) would provide a total of $601.6 billion in fiscal 2006 for the Labor Department ($14.8 billion), the Education Department ($63.7 billion), the Health and Human Services Department ($473.8 billion), and related agencies. The bill is by far the largest of the 11 appropriations bills written by the House this year. In total, H.R. 3010 would provide a 21 percent increase over a similar appropriations bill for the previous year.

The House passed this bill on June 24, 2005 by a vote of 250-151 (Roll Call 321). We have assigned pluses to the "nays" because this bill represents a significant increase in spending, and social-welfare programs are unconstitutional. The Senate passed a similar measure four months later (see Senate vote #19).

12 Foreign Aid. This appropriations bill (H.R. 3057) would provide $20.3 billion for U.S. foreign aid programs in fiscal 2006.

The House passed the foreign aid bill on June 28, 2005 by a vote of 393-32 (Roll Call 335). We have assigned pluses to the "nays" because foreign aid is unconstitutional. A similar bill was passed by the Senate a few weeks later (see Senate vote #12).

13 Patriot Act Reauthorization. In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Congress passed the so-called Patriot Act, which gave law enforcement and intelligence agencies vast new powers to combat terrorism. The act expanded the list of crimes deemed terrorist acts; increased the ability of law enforcement to secretly search homes and business records; expanded the FBI's wiretapping and surveillance authority; and provided for nationwide jurisdiction for search warrants and electronic surveillance devices, including the legal extension of those devices to e-mail and the Internet. The bill included a "sunset" provision under which the new surveillance powers "shall cease to have effect on December 31, 2005."

The Patriot Act reauthorization bill (H.R. 3199) considered by the current Congress would make permanent 14 of the 16 provisions set to expire at the end of this year and extend for 10 years the remaining two provisions. The House passed the reauthorization on July 21, 2005 by a vote of 257-171 (Roll Call 414). We have assigned pluses to the "nays" because the Patriot Act tramples on the constitutionally protected rights of U.S. citizens.

14 CAFTA. This bill (H.R. 3045) would implement the proposed Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), thereby expanding the devastating consequences of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), including the job losses wrought by NAFTA. CAFTA is intended by the Power Elite to be a steppingstone from NAFTA to the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), which would include all of the countries of the Western Hemisphere except (for now) Cuba. Like NAFTA, which has already begun imposing its trade rulings on America, CAFTA and the FTAA would not be genuine free trade arrangements; they would instead manage trade and would gradually exercise more powers on the road to a supranational government modeled alter the European Union.

The House passed CAFTA on July 28, 2005 by a vote of 217-215 (Roll Call 443). We have assigned pluses to the "nays" because CAFTA would further damage the U.S. economy and threaten U.S. sovereignty. (To see how the Senate voted on CAFTA, please refer to the "Conservative Index" appearing in the August 8, 2005 issue of THE NEW AMERICAN.)

15 Surface Transportation. The final version (conference report) of this bill (H.R. 3) would authorize $286.5 billion for federal highway, mass transit, and safety and research programs through fiscal 2009. The bill is laden with thousands of "pork barrel" transportation projects requested by individual lawmakers.

The House adopted the final version of this legislation on July 29, 2005 by a vote of 412-8 (Roll Call 453). We have assigned pluses to the "nays" because the bill increases transportation spending and is fiscally irresponsible (see Senate vote #14).

16 Katrina Hurricane-relief Appropriations. In the wake of the devastating hurricane disaster in the Gulf Coast, Congress quickly passed legislation that would appropriate $51.8 billion in emergency supplemental funding for fiscal 2005 (H.R. 3673) to be used for relief in the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. Commenting on how the tragic images of Katrina were used to justify more federal welfare and interventionism, as opposed to private charity and initiatives, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) noted on September 15, after the House and Senate votes: "These scenes prompted two emotional reactions. One side claims Katrina proved there was not enough government welfare.... The other side claims we need to pump billions of new dollars into the very federal agency that tailed (FEMA).... Both sides support more authoritarianism, more centralization, and even the imposition of martial law in times of natural disasters."

The House passed the Katrina appropriations bill on September 8, 2005 by a vote of 410-11 (Roll Call 460). We have assigned pluses to the "nays" because federally financing disaster relief is unconstitutional. Both the House and Senate passed their versions of H.R. 3673 on the same day (see Senate vote #15)

17 Hate Crimes. During consideration of the Children's Safety Act of 2005 (H.R. 3132), Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) introduced this amendment to add a separate federal criminal charge for committing an act of violence based on race, color, religion, or national origin; and to broaden the category of hate crimes to include sexual orientation, gender, or disability. Current hate-crime laws extend only to sentencing and do not provide for additional charges to be brought against an individual.

The Cowers amendment was passed by a vote of 223-199 on September 14, 2005 (Roll Call 469). We have assigned pluses to the "nays" because this legislation would further federalize the criminal code as well as punish not only criminal acts but the thoughts behind them.

18 Head Start Funding. This legislation (H.R. 2123) would reauthorize the Head Start program through fiscal 2011 and provide $6.8 billion for the program in 2006. The bill would also increase educational standards for Head Start teachers.

The House passed the Head Start bill on September 22, 2005 by a vote of 231-184 (Roll Call 493). We have assigned pluses to the "nays" because the bill would further federalize the educational system, and federal aid to education is unconstitutional.

19 U.S. Treasury Borrowing. During consideration of a bill to overhaul the regulation of government-sponsored enterprises, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) offered this amendment to "eliminate the ability of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Bank Board to borrow from the Treasury." During floor debate on his amendment, Paul stated, "I hope my colleagues join me in protecting taxpayers from having to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac when the housing bubble bursts."

The House rejected Paul's amendment on October 26, 2005 by a vote of 47-371 (Roll Call 544). We have assigned pluses to the "yeas" because Paul's amendment would (in Paul's words) seek to end a "massive unconstitutional and immoral" transfer of income from working Americans to government-sponsored enterprises.

20 Online Freedom of Speech. The Online Freedom of Speech Act (H.R. 1606) would exempt the Internet--including blogs, e-mail, and other online speech--from being subject to campaign finance laws and Federal Election Commission regulation,

Because supporters attempted to pass the bill under a suspension of the rules, a two-thirds majority of those present and voting was required for passage. Supporters got a solid majority but not the necessary two-thirds, and the legislation was rejected on November 2, 2005 by a vote of 225-182 (Roll Call 559). We have assigned pluses to the "yeas" because the bill would protect free speech.

Senate Vote Descriptions

11 Nuclear Power Plants in China. During consideration of the foreign aid appropriations bill, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) introduced this amendment to prohibit the Export-Import Bank, a U.S. government agency, from providing federal loans or loan guarantees for the construction of nuclear power plants in China. The amendment would block federal assistance to the British-owned nuclear division of Westinghouse to build such plants.

The Senate rejected Coburn's amendment on July 19. 2005 by a vote of 37-62 (Roll Call 192). We have assigned pluses to the "yeas" because foreign aid programs are unconstitutional.

12 Foreign Aid. The Senate version of the foreign aid appropriations bill (H.R. 3057) would provide $31.8 billion in fiscal 2006 for U.S. foreign aid programs.

The Senate passed this appropriations bill on July 20, 2005 by a vote of 98-1 (Roll Call 197). We have assigned a plus to the lone "nay" because foreign aid is unconstitutional.

13 Interior-Environment Appropriations. The final version (conference report) of this appropriations bill (H.R. 2361) would provide $26.2 billion in fiscal 2006 for the Interior Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, and related agencies, including $7.7 billion for the EPA. All but roughly $50 million provided in H.R. 2361 is deemed "discretionary" funds.

The Senate passed this appropriations bill on July 29, 2005 by a vote of 99-1 (Roll Call 210). We have assigned a plus to the lone "nay" because the bill's provisions include both unnecessary and unconstitutional spending.

14 Surface Transportation. The final version (conference report) of this legislation (H.R. 3) is described in House vote # 15.

The Senate adopted the conference report on July 29, 2005 by a vote of 91-4 (Roll Call 220). We have assigned pluses to the "nays" because the bill increases transportation spending and is fiscally irresponsible.

15 Katrina Hurricane-relief Appropriations. This legislation to appropriate $51.8 billion in emergency supplemental funding for hurricane relief (H.R. 3673) is described in House vote #16.

The Senate passed this supplemental appropriations bill on September 8, 2005 by a vote of 97-0 (Roll Call 223). We have assigned minuses to the "yeas" because federally financing disaster relief is unconstitutional.

16 Funding Law Enforcement. During consideration of the Fiscal 2006 Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill (H.R. 2862), Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) offered this amendment to increase funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services program by $1 billion, to increase funding for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children by $10 million, to increase funding for the Office of Violence Against Women by $9 million, and to designate these increases as emergency spending.

A point of order was made against the emergency designation based on the Budget Act, and the Senate effectively killed the Biden amendment when it rejected a motion to waive the Budget Act. The vote was 41-56 on September 13, 2005 (Roll Call 226). We have assigned pluses to the "nays" because providing federal aid to law enforcement programs is not only unconstitutional, but it also further federalizes the police system.

17 Agriculture Appropriations. This bill (H.R. 2744) would provide $100.7 billion in fiscal 2006 for the Agriculture Department, the Food and Drug Administration, and related agencies. The funding includes $40.7 billion for the food stamp program, $12.4 billion for school meal programs, and $25.7 billion for the Commodity Credit Corporation, which aids farmers.

The Senate passed the Agriculture appropriations bill on September 22, 2005 by a vote of 97-2 (Roll Call 241). We have assigned pluses to the "nays" because federal aid to farmers and federal food aid to individuals are not authorized in the Constitution.

18 Minimum Wage Increase. During consideration of the Transportation-Treasury-Housing appropriations bill (H.R. 3058), Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) offered an amendment to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $5.70 an hour six months after the bill's enactment, and then to $6.25 an hour one year after the bill's enactment. While raising the minimum wage may sound appealing to some unskilled workers, it would actually make many of them too expensive to hire, and it would also make starting up new companies more expensive.

The Senate rejected Kennedy's amendment on October 19, 2005 by a vote of 47-51 (Roll Call 257). We have assigned pluses to the "nays" because it is unconstitutional for the government to prohibit American citizens from working for less than a federally mandated minimum wage.

19 Labor-HHS-Education. The Senate version of this mammoth social-welfare appropriations bill (H.R. 3010) would provide a total of $604.4 billion in fiscal 2006 for the Labor Department ($15 billion), the Education Department ($63.7 billion), the Health and Human Services Department ($476.2 billion), and related agencies.

The Senate passed this massive social-welfare bill on October 27, 2005 by a vote of 94-3 (Roll Call 281). We have assigned pluses to the "nays" because social-welfare programs are unconstitutional.

20 ANWR Oil and Gas Leasing.

During consideration of the budget reconciliation bill (S. 1932), Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) offered an amendment that would delete from the underlying bill language allowing for "the establishment of an oil and gas leasing program in the Coastal Plain" of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska. Cantwell's intent was to keep in place the present ban against drilling for oil and natural gas in the energy-rich ANWR.

The Senate rejected the Cantwell amendment on November 3, 2005 by a vote of 48-51 (Roll Call 288). We have assigned pluses for the "nays" because the United States should reduce its dependence on foreign oil and develop its own energy resources.

About This Index

"The Conservative Index" rates congressmen based on their adherence to constitutional principles of limited government, to fiscal responsibility, to national sovereignty, and to a traditional foreign policy of avoiding foreign entanglements. Preserving our Constitution, the freedoms it guarantees, and the moral bedrock on which it is based is what the word "conservatism" once meant--and how it is being applied here.

To learn how any representative or senator voted on the key measures described herein, look him up in the tables on pages 30-35. The scores are derived by dividing a congressman's conservative votes (pluses) by the total number he cast (pluses and minuses) and multiplying by 100. (A "?" indicates that a congressman did not vote. If a congressman cast fewer than five votes in this index, a score is not assigned.)

The average House score for this index (votes 11-20) is a disappointing 30 percent; the average Senate score is an even worse 21 percent. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) was the only member of either house of Congress to earn a perfect score of 100.

We encourage readers to examine how their own congressmen voted on each of the 10 key measures as well as overall. Our first index for the 109th Congress (votes 1-10) appeared in our August 8, 2005 issue.

We also encourage readers to commend legislators for their conservative votes and to urge improvement where needed. For congressional contact information go to www.thenewamerican.com/congress/.
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Title Annotation:CONGRESS
Publication:The New American
Date:Dec 12, 2005
Words:2473
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