The Conservative Index: Our First Look at the 109th Congress Shows How Every Member of the House and Senate Voted on Key Issues, Including Abortion, the WTO, CAFTA, and UN "Reforms."

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House Vote Descriptions

1 Permanent Repeal of Estate Tax. Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R-Mo.) sponsored this bill (H.R. 8) to permanently repeal the estate tax, commonly known as the "death tax." Under current law, the estate tax will be phased out by 2010, but because of a "sunset" provision the tax will be fully eliminated for only one year before being reinstituted. Hulshof's bill would eliminate the sunset clause, making the repeal permanent. The estate tax has forced many cash-poor but asset-rich individuals to liquidate their family farms and other small private businesses rather than bequeath those assets to their loved ones.

The House passed this bill on April 13, 2005 by a vote of 272-162 (Roll Call 102). We have assigned pluses to the "yeas" because permanently repealing the estate tax would be a constitutional tax cut that would benefit the elderly and their families.

2 Fuel Efficiency Regulations. During consideration of the energy policy bill (H.R. 6), Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.) introduced an amendment to increase the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards to at least 33 miles per gallon by model year 2015 for automobiles. The standard is now set at an average of 25 miles per gallon. Since neither legislators nor manufacturers have a magic wand to reduce the amount of gas required to move a certain mass a certain distance, this legislation would effectively force manufacturers to reduce vehicle size and weight, thereby limiting consumer choices and making vehicles less safe.

The House rejected Boehlert's amendment by a vote of 177-254 on April 20, 2005 (Roll Call 121). We have assigned pluses to the "nays" because federal regulations limiting consumer choices are unconstitutional.

3 Alaskan Drilling. Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) offered an amendment to delete language in the energy policy bill (H.R. 6) that would allow leases for oil and gas exploration and development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska. Drilling in ANWR is now banned, and Markey wants to keep it that way despite the fact that ANWR likely contains billions of barrels of oil and could be on a par with Prudhoe Bay, North America's largest oil field.

The House rejected Markey's amendment on April 20, 2005 by a vote of 200231 (Roll Call 122). We have assigned pluses to the "nays" because the United States should develop its own energy resources and reduce its dependence on foreign oil. The Senate had rejected a similar anti-drilling amendment a month earlier (see Senate vote #3).

4 Vocational/Technical Training. This bill (H.R. 366) would reauthorize the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act, which funds vocational and technical education programs. The bill would authorize $1.3 billion in fiscal 2006 and "such funds as necessary" in fiscal 2007-11. It would also merge Perkins funding with "Tech-Prep," a program that provides certain math and science courses to high school students to "ease the transition" from high school to a vocational or community college.

The House passed this bill on May 4, 2005 by a vote of 416-9 (Roll Call 154). We have assigned pluses to the "nays" because federal aid to education and job-training programs is unconstitutional. The Senate had passed a similar measure two months earlier (see Senate vote #2).

5 Supplemental Appropriations. The final version (conference report) of this supplemental appropriations bill (H.R. 1268) would add another $82 billion to the federal budget for fiscal 2005. The supplemental spending, even if needed and constitutional, should not have been added on to the annual federal budget after the fact, but should have been included as part of the regular appropriations process. The supplemental spending in this bill includes $75.9 billion for defense-related purposes, most of it for the military occupation of Iraq, and $907 million for tsunami victims, the latter clearly unconstitutional. …