Roll Calls: House Votes Against Political Speech in Church and Marriage Penalty

ROLL CALL:
House Defeats Bill Allowing Churches Political Speech

On October 2, by a vote of 178 to 239, the House rejected the House of Worship Political Speech Protection Act (HR 2357), a bill that would have amended the tax code to allow churches and other religiously affiliated organizations to speak on political issues without losing their tax exempt status if such activities are not a “substantial part” of their activities. Because the bill was brought up under suspension of the rules, it required a two-thirds majority to pass. Supporters knew they wouldn’t get two-thirds and, even if they did, the Senate would not take up the bill this year, but they had hoped to get a majority.

The chief sponsor of the bill, Rep.Walter Jones (R.-N.C.), said that until Lyndon Johnson got through an amendment to a revenue bill in 1954 forbidding political speech by tax-exempt religious organizations, churches had, since the founding of the republic, fully enjoyed their freedoms under the 1st Amendment. Jones said that right now, however, “houses of worship, as a nonprofit entity under section 501(c)(3) [of the IRS code], cannot have political speech.”

Liberal Republican Rep. Amo Houghton (R.-N.Y.) disagreed with Jones, saying that churches actually can say whatever they want . “[T]oday churches are free to talk about the issues in any way they want, but they cannot use the church resources on a tax-deductible basis to campaign for a candidate,” he said. “I think that makes perfectly good sense. They can do what they want, but they should not use the tax code the way no one else can use the tax code for this political purpose.”

Rep.Wally Herger (R.-Calif.) explained that current standards are being enforced differently for different churches. He felt that this is a result of political maneuvering. “[R]eligious leaders point out,” said Herger, “that the IRS has recently investigated a number of conservative groups while leaving unscathed liberal churches which actively promote a candidate or political party.”

Rep. Chet Edwards (D.-Tex.) said that the bill was not just bad, but dangerous. He felt that without the federal government’s ensuring that religious institutions are not politically active, places of worship in America might be unable to resist the urge to give up their time worshiping God to campaign for political candidates. “Think about life under this bill. Our churches, synagogues, and mosques could cut back on their spiritual worship time so they could hear from their campaign committee. Then rather than taking time to praise God, our congregations could entertain divisive partisan political debates as to which . . . candidates to endorse each year.”

Rep John Hostettler (R.-Ind.) argued that American freedoms came about largely because churches expressed their opinions on political issues. He asked what the “fabric of American society would look like today without our past clergymen and women denouncing the evils of tyranny, slavery, and segregation.”

“[This bill] simply attempts to return our houses of worship to the role they have historically held as an active participant in the political process, addressing the important issues of the day,” said Hostettler. “This bill assures that those who hold to fundamental truths are not divorced from the arena of ideas simply because they happen to be standing behind a pulpit.”

A “yes” vote was in support of the House of Worship Political Speech Protection Act insuring that religious leaders can speak about politics without losing their tax exemption. A “no” vote was a vote against the bill.

FOR THE BILL: 178

REPUBLICANS FOR (168): Akin, Armey, Bachus, Baker, Ballenger, Barr, Bartlett, Barton, Bilirakis, Blunt, Bonilla, Boozman, Brady (TX), Brown (SC), Bryant, Burr, Burton, Callahan, Calvert, Camp, Cannon, Cantor, Capito, Chabot, Chambliss, Coble, Collins, Combest, Cooksey, Crane, Crenshaw, Cubin, Culberson, Cunningham, Davis, Jo Ann, Davis, Tom, DeLay, DeMint, Diaz-Balart, Doolittle, Duncan, Dunn, Ehlers, Emerson, English, Everett, Ferguson, Flake, Fletcher, Foley, Forbes, Fossella, Frelinghuysen, Gallegly, Gibbons, Gillmor, Goode, Goodlatte, Graham, Granger, Graves, Green (WI), Grucci, Gutknecht, Hansen, Hart, Hastings (WA), Hayes, Hayworth, Hefley, Herger, Hoekstra, Hostettler, Hulshof, Hyde, Isakson, Issa, Istook, Jenkins, Johnson, Sam, Jones (NC), Keller, Kelly, Kennedy (MN), Kerns, King (NY), Kingston, LaHood, Lewis (KY), Linder, LoBiondo, Lucas (OK), Manzullo, McCrery, McHugh, McInnis, McKeon, Mica, Miller, Dan, Miller, Gary, Miller, Jeff, Moran (KS), Myrick, Nethercutt, Ney, Northup, Norwood, Otter, Oxley, Paul, Pence, Peterson (PA), Pickering, Pitts, Pombo, Portman, Putnam, Radanovich, Ramstad, Regula, Rehberg, Reynolds, Riley, Rogers (KY), Rogers (MI), Rohrabacher, Ros-Lehtinen, Royce, Ryan (WI), Ryun (KS), Saxton, Schaffer, Sessions, Shadegg, Shaw, Sherwood, Shimkus, Shuster, Simpson, Smith (MI), Smith (NJ), Smith (TX), Souder, Stearns, Sullivan, Sununu, Tancredo, Tauzin, Taylor (NC), Thornberry, Thune, Tiahrt, Tiberi, Toomey, Vitter, Walsh, Wamp, Watkins (OK), Watts (OK), Weldon (FL), Weldon (PA), Weller, Whitfield, Wicker, Wilson (SC), Wolf, Young (AK), Young (FL)

DEMOCRATS FOR (10): Barcia, Clement, Condit, Hall (TX), Lipinski, Lucas (KY), Phelps, Rahall, Shows, Stenholm

INDEPENDENTS FOR (0)

AGAINST THE BILL: 239

REPUBLICANS AGAINST (46): Aderholt, Bass, Bereuter, Biggert, Boehlert, Boehner, Bono, Buyer, Castle, Dreier, Ganske, Gekas, Gilchrest, Gilman, Goss, Greenwood, Hobson, Horn, Houghton, Johnson (CT), Johnson (IL), Kirk, Knollenberg, Kolbe, Latham, LaTourette, Leach, Lewis (CA), Morella, Nussle, Osborne, Ose, Petri, Platts, Pryce (OH), Quinn, Sensenbrenner, Shays, Simmons, Skeen, Sweeney, Terry, Thomas, Upton, Walden, Wilson (NM)

DEMOCRATS AGAINST (192): Abercrombie, Ackerman, Allen, Andrews, Baca, Baird, Baldacci, Baldwin, Barrett, Becerra, Bentsen, Berkley, Berman ,Berry, Bishop, Blagojevich, Blumenauer, Bonior, Borski, Boswell, Boucher, Boyd, Brady (PA), Brown (FL), Brown (OH), Capps, Capuano, Cardin, Carson (IN), Carson (OK), Clayton, Clyburn, Conyers, Costello, Coyne, Cramer, Crowley, Cummings, Davis (CA), Davis (FL), Davis (IL), DeFazio, DeGette, Delahunt, DeLauro, Dicks, Dingell, Doggett, Dooley, Doyle, Edwards, Engel, Eshoo, Etheridge, Evans, Farr, Fattah, Filner, Ford, Frank, Frost, Gephardt, Gonzalez, Gordon, Green (TX), Gutierrez, Harman, Hill, Hilliard, Hinchey, Hinojosa, Hoeffel, Holden, Holt, Honda, Hooley, Hoyer, Inslee, Israel, Jackson (IL), Jackson-Lee (TX), Jefferson, John, Johnson, E. B., Jones (OH), Kanjorski, Kaptur, Kennedy (RI), Kildee, Kilpatrick, Kind (WI), Kleczka, Kucinich, LaFalce, Lampson, Langevin, Lantos, Larsen (WA), Larson (CT), Lee, Levin, Lewis (GA), Lofgren, Lowey, Luther, Lynch, Maloney (CT), Maloney (NY) ,Markey, Matheson, Matsui, McCarthy (MO), McCarthy (NY), McCollum, McDermott, McGovern, McIntyre, McKinney, McNulty, Meehan, Meek (FL), Meeks (NY), Menendez, Millender-Mc-, Donald, Miller, George, Mollohan, Moore, Moran (VA), Murtha, Nadler, Napolitano, Neal, Oberstar, Obey, Olver, Ortiz, Owens, Pallone, Pascrell, Pastor, Payne, Pelosi, Peterson (MN), Pomeroy, Price (NC), Rangel, Reyes, Rivers, Rodriguez, Roemer, Ross, Rothman, Roybal-Allard, Rush, Sabo, Sandlin, Sawyer, Schakowsky, Schiff, Scott, Serrano, Sherman, Skelton, Slaughter, Smith (WA), Snyder, Solis, Spratt, Stark, Strickland, Stupak, Tauscher, Taylor (MS), Thompson (CA), Thompson (MS), Thurman, Tierney, Towns, Turner, Udall (CO), Udall (NM), Velazquez, Visclosky, Waters, Watson (CA), Watt (NC), Waxman, Weiner, Wexler, Woolsey, Wu, Wynn

INDEPENDENTS AGAINST (1): Sanders (VT)

NOT VOTING: 14

REPUBLICANS (8): Cox, Deal, Ehrlich, Hilleary, Hunter, Roukema, Schrock, Stump

DEMOCRATS (6): Clay, Deutsch, Hastings (FL), Mascara, Sanchez, Tanner

ROLL CALL:
House Resolution Urges Repeal of Marriage Penalty

On October 2, by a vote of 285 to 130, the House passed a non-binding “sense of the House” resolution (H Res 543) that Congress, before leaving town, should give final approval to the Support for Married Couples Tax Relief Act (HR 4019). The House has already passed that bill to permanently eliminate the “marriage penalty” from the tax law, but the Senate has refused to act. The resolution forced members to take a stand on this issue just a month before the mid-term elections.

Before passage of President Bus’s tax cut bill last year, certain married couples paid higher income taxes than they would have had they remained single. However, that tax-relief measure was temporary and will end in 2011.

Rep. Joe Pitts (R.-Pa.) said that since marriage is one of the “building blocks” of society and strong families have made our country strong, the government should not discourage people from getting married. “[T]his government for far too long has been actually punishing families for staying together and punishing couples for getting married in the first place.”

Rep. Robert Matsui (D.-Calif.) said that in light of the fact that economists are “predicting deficits as far as the eye can see,” members should consider how repealing the marriage tax would supposedly “invade” the Social Security trust fund and thereby endanger the elderly.

Rep. Sander Levin (D.-Mich.) agreed with Matsui, calling the bill’s supporters “fiscally irresponsible.” He claimed that, by repealing the tax, “what you are digging out are Social Security monies. These are monies that people pay in taxes for Social Security; and that is the height of fiscal irresponsibility.”

Rep. Xavier Becerra (D.-Calif.) accused Republicans of pushing a tax cut for the rich while ignoring the poor. “[I]t seems evident that the priorities of my friends on the other side of the aisle, above all else, and at the expense of addressing the growing unemployment in this country, above all else and at the expense of providing money for our schools, above all else and at the expense of dealing with our growing health care crisis, that their priority is to ensure that upper-income Americans are ensured tax cuts a decade from now,” he said.

Rep. Jerry Weller (R.-Ill.), however, pointed out that repealing the marriage tax is not an issue of aiding the wealthy. “The average or typical married couple suffering the marriage tax penalty makes $60-$70,000. They are middle class, they are both in the workforce, on average they have kids, they have a mortgage, and they pay higher taxes just because they are married.”

Rep. Matsui said that, with much more important issues at hand, such as Iraq, homeland security, and the national economy, House members should not be wasting their time voting on legislation they have already passed. He said that the Senate “knows that we want a piece of legislation that was sent over there to be passed. We do not have to tell them again.”

A “yes” vote was a vote expressing House support for permanent repeal of the marriage penalty-a bill now languishing in the Senate. A “no” vote was a vote against the resolution and was, in effect, a vote against permanent repeal of the marriage penalty.

FOR THE BILL: 285

REPUBLICANS FOR (212): Aderholt, Akin, Armey, Bachus, Baker, Ballenger, Barr, Bartlett, Barton, Bass, Bereuter, Biggert, Bilirakis, Blunt, Boehlert, Boehner, Bonilla, Bono, Boozman, Brady (TX), Brown (SC), Bryant, Burr, Burton, Buyer, Callahan, Calvert, Camp, Cannon, Cantor, Capito, Castle, Chabot, Chambliss, Coble, Collins, Combest, Cox, Crane, Crenshaw, Cubin, Culberson, Cunningham, Davis, Jo Ann, Davis, Tom, DeLay, DeMint, Diaz-Balart, Doolittle, Dreier, Duncan, Dunn, Ehlers, Emerson, English, Everett, Ferguson, Flake, Fletcher, Foley, Forbes, Fossella, Frelinghuysen, Gallegly, Ganske, Gekas, Gibbons, Gilchrest, Gillmor, Goode, Goodlatte, Goss, Graham, Granger, Graves, Green (WI), Greenwood, Grucci, Gutknecht, Hansen, Hart, Hastings (WA), Hayes, Hayworth, Hefley, Hobson, Hoekstra, Horn, Hostettler, Houghton, Hulshof, Hunter, Hyde, Isakson, Issa, Istook, Jefferson, Jenkins, Johnson (CT), Johnson (IL), Jones (NC), Keller, Kelly, Kennedy (MN), Kerns, King (NY), Kingston, Kirk, Knollenberg, Kolbe, LaHood, Latham, LaTourette, Leach, Lewis (CA), Lewis (KY), Linder, LoBiondo, Lucas (OK), Manzullo, McCrery, McHugh, McInnis, McKeon, Mica, Miller, Dan, Miller, Gary, Miller, Jeff, Moran (KS), Morella, Myrick, Nethercutt, Ney, Northup, Norwood, Nussle, Osborne, Ose, Otter, Oxley, Paul, Pence, Peterson (PA), Petri, Pickering, Platts, Pombo, Portman, Pryce (OH), Putnam, Quinn, Radanovich, Ramstad, Regula, Rehberg, Reynolds, Riley, Rogers (KY), Rogers (MI), Rohrabacher, Ros-Lehtinen, Royce, Ryan (WI), Ryun (KS), Saxton, Schaffer, Schrock, Sensenbrenner, Sessions, Shadegg, Shaw, Shays, Sherwood, Shimkus, Shuster, Simmons, Simpson, Skeen, Smith (MI), Smith (NJ), Smith (TX), Souder, Stearns, Sullivan, Sununu, Sweeney, Tancredo, Tauzin, Taylor (NC), Terry, Thomas, Thornberry, Thune, Tiahrt, Tiberi, Toomey, Upton, Vitter, Walden, Walsh, Wamp, Watkins (OK), Watts (OK), Weldon (FL), Weldon (PA), Weller, Whitfield, Wicker, Wilson (NM), Wilson (SC), Wolf, Young (AK), Young (FL)

DEMOCRATS FOR (72): Abercrombie, Allen, Baird, Baldacci, Barcia, Barrett, Berkley, Bishop, Blagojevich, Boswell, Boucher, Brown (FL), Capps, Carson (OK), Clay, Clement, Clyburn, Condit, Costello, Cramer, Davis (CA), Davis (FL), DeFazio, Deutsch, Dicks, Dooley, Doyle, Edwards, Engel, Etheridge, Ford, Gordon, Hall (TX), Harman, Hinojosa, Holden, Holt, Hooley, Israel, John, Kennedy (RI), Kind (WI), Lantos, Lipinski, Lucas (KY), Luther, Maloney (CT), Maloney (NY), Matheson, McCarthy (NY), McIntyre, McKinney, McNulty, Meeks (NY), Moore, Peterson (MN), Phelps, Pomeroy, Roemer, Ross, Sandlin, Shows, Skelton, Smith (WA), Snyder, Stupak, Thompson (MS), Towns, Udall (CO), Wu, Wynn

INDEPENDENTS FOR (1): Sanders (VT)

AGAINST THE BILL: 130

REPUBLICANS AGAINST (0)

DEMOCRATS AGAINST (130): Ackerman, Andrews, Baca, Baldwin, Becerra, Bentsen, Berman, Berry, Blumenauer, Bonior, Borski, Boyd, Brady (PA), Brown (OH), Capuano, Cardin, Carson (IN), Clayton, Conyers, Coyne, Crowley, Cummings, Davis (IL), DeGette, Delahunt, DeLauro, Dingell, Doggett, Eshoo, Evans, Farr, Fattah, Filner, Frank, Frost, Gephardt, Gonzalez, Green (TX), Gutierrez, Hill, Hilliard, Hinchey, Hoeffel, Honda, Hoyer, Inslee, Jackson (IL), Jackson-Lee (TX), Johnson, E. B., Jones (OH), Kanjorski, Kaptur, Kildee, Kilpatrick, Kleczka, Kucinich, LaFalce, Langevin, Larsen (WA), Larson (CT), Lee, Levin, Lewis (GA), Lofgren, Lowey, Lynch, Markey, Matsui, McCarthy (MO), McCollum, McDermott, McGovern, Meehan, Meek (FL), Menendez, Millender-Mc-, Donald, Miller, George, Mollohan, Moran (VA), Murtha, Nadler, Napolitano, Neal, Oberstar, Obey, Olver, Ortiz, Owens, Pallone, Pascrell, Pastor, Payne, Pelosi, Price (NC), Rangel, Reyes, Rivers, Rodriguez, Rothman, Roybal-Allard, Rush, Sabo, Sawyer, Schakowsky, Schiff, Scott, Serrano, Sherman, Slaughter, Solis, Spratt, Stark, Stenholm, Strickland, Tauscher, Taylor (MS), Thompson (CA), Thurman, Tierney, Turner, Udall (NM), Velazquez, Visclosky, Waters, Watson (CA), Watt (NC), Waxman, Weiner, Wexler, Woolsey

INDEPENDENTS AGAINST (0)

NOT VOTING: 16

REPUBLICANS (10): Cooksey, Deal, Ehrlich, Gilman, Herger, Hilleary, Johnson, Sam, Pitts, Roukema, Stump

DEMOCRATS (6): Hastings (FL), Lampson, Mascara, Rahall, Sanchez, Tanner


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