The Conservative Index: Our Third Look at the 108th Congress Shows How Every Member of the House and Senate Voted on Key Issues, Including the Budget, Gun Ownership and Abortion

The New American, July 12, 2004 | Go to article overview
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The Conservative Index: Our Third Look at the 108th Congress Shows How Every Member of the House and Senate Voted on Key Issues, Including the Budget, Gun Ownership and Abortion


House Vote Descriptions

21 Extended Unemployment Benefits. This amendment to H.R. 3030 (Community Service Block Grants) would authorize a six-month federal program to provide an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits for people who have exhausted their 26 weeks of state jobless benefits.

According to Congressional Quarterly for February 7, 2004, this federal unemployment benefits amendment is part of "an election year strategy by Democrats and labor advocates to try to attach worker-related legislation to other bills." See Senate Vote #29 for the fate of this amendment in the Senate.

The House adopted this amendment to H.R. 3030 on February 4, 2004 by a vote of 227 to 179 (Roll Call 18). We have assigned pluses to the "nays" because payment of unemployment benefits is an unconstitutional activity of the federal government.

22 Child Nutrition Programs. This bill (H.R. 3873) would reauthorize through fiscal 2008 several child nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and the After-School Snack Program. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that H.R. 3873 would increase direct spending on these programs by about $226 million over the 2004-2008 period.

Since obesity in school-age children has greatly increased since 1980, the school lunch program reauthorization bill has become a popular vehicle for proposals aimed at reducing obesity. This bill would require schools to develop "wellness policies" that establish nutritional guidelines for all food sold in schools; however, it stops short of setting mandatory federal standards.

The House agreed to the motion to suspend the rules and pass H.R. 3873 on March 24, 2004 by a vote of 419 to 5 (Roll Call 82). We have assigned pluses to the "nays" because providing food for citizens is an unconstitutional activity of the federal government. A two thirds majority of those present and voting (283 in this case) is required for passage under a suspension of the rules.

23 North American Development Bank. This bill (H.R. 254), as amended by the Senate, would implement a U.S.-Mexico agreement that would allow the North American Development Bank (NADBank) to make below-market-loans. It would also extend the area in Mexico served by the bank to a zone along the border 186 miles wide (compared to the current 62 miles wide). The NADBank was established by the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to finance development on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. The bank is funded by both the United States and Mexico.

The House agreed to a motion to suspend the rules and passed H.R. 254 on March 25, 2004 by a vote of 377 to 48 (Roll Call 87). We have assigned pluses to the "nays" because foreign aid to Mexico in the form of below-market-loans funded by U.S. taxpayers is unconstitutional. A two-thirds majority of those present and voting (284 in this case) is required for passage under a suspension of the rules.

24 Fiscal 2005 Budget Resolution. "This resolution (House Concurrent Resolution 393) would establish broad spending and revenue targets over the next five years. It calls for $871.3 billion in "discretionary" spending (including $50 billion for supplemental funding of operations in Iraq) and another $1.5 trillion in "mandatory" spending for fiscal 2005. Based on these targets, the "mandatory" spending portion of the budget would increase by 5 percent over last year, and the total budget--a whopping $2.4 trillion--would increase by 3 percent.

This resolution projects that the budget deficit would be cut significantly by fiscal 2009 (from $376.8 billion in fiscal 2005 to $234 billion in fiscal 2009); however, according to a Congressional Quarterly Fact Sheet, "Budget Resolution for FY 2005," these projected deficits are deceptively low due to an accounting sleight-of-hand whereby "these deficits are calculated by using the surpluses in the Social Security trust funds to offset spending on other programs.

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The Conservative Index: Our Third Look at the 108th Congress Shows How Every Member of the House and Senate Voted on Key Issues, Including the Budget, Gun Ownership and Abortion
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