Senate Refuses Direct Vote On Pay Hike
On November 13, by a vote of 58 to 36, the Senate tabled (killed) and thus refused to vote directly on an amendment to the Homeland Security Act (HR 5005) sponsored by Sen. Russ Feingold (D.-Wis.) that would have prevented members of Congress from receiving an automatic cost of living adjustment during fiscal year 2003. A vote on the tabling motion, however, is considered by most congressional observers to be tantamount to a vote on the amendment. The House had also maneuvered to avoid a direct vote on the pay raise, just letting it go through in July as part of a large appropriation bill.
Feingold described the pay raise as a "stealth maneuver" because the 3% pay increase goes into effect automatically unless Congress votes to block it.
The amendment would have blocked members of Congress from receiving an automatic $5,000 pay increase in January, which will increase their annual salary to $154,700. Feingold opposed the pay increase. "Put simply, this is the wrong time for Congress to give itself a pay hike. Our economy is still recovering from the recent slowdown."
He argued that it was wrong for members to give themselves another raise considering that, "as of this coming January, members will have received four consecutive pay hikes totaling $18,000-$18,000 per year. That is more than the average annual Social Security benefit for a retired worker and spouse. It is more than the average annual Social Security benefit for a disabled worker, spouse, and child. It is more than someone working minimum wage can make in a year and a half."
Feingold also questioned the constitutionality of Congresss being able to increase its own salary at this time. "This automatic, stealth pay raise system is absolutely wrong. It is an unusual thing to have the power to raise our own pay," said Feingold. "That is why this process of pay raises without accountability must end. It is offensive. It is wrong. And I believe it may be unconstitutional. The 27th Amendment to the Constitution states: No law, varying the compensation for the services of the senators and representatives, shall take effect, until an election of representatives shall have intervened."
Feingold said that "even those who favor a pay hike should support voting for it on the record. Certainly, having an open and public vote on the record for a pay hike is better than the stealth pay raise that takes place with no action. Standing up and making the case before the public is far better than quietly letting the pay raise take effect."
Feingolds amendment was tabled without much discussion, effectively giving the Senate a big pay increase.
A "yes" vote was a vote to table (kill) the Feingold amendment and was, in effect, a vote for an automatic $5,000 congressional pay raise in January. A "no" vote was a vote against the motion to table (kill) the amendment and was, in effect, a vote to require a Senate rollcall on the congressional pay raise.
REPUBLICANS FOR (30): Allen, Bennett, Bond, Burns, Campbell, Chafee, Cochran, Crapo, Domenici, Enzi, Frist, Gramm (Tex.), Gregg, Hagel, Hatch, Inhofe, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, McConnell, Murkowski, Nickles, Santorum, Shelby, Stevens, Thomas, Thompson, Thurmond, Voinovich and Warner.
DEMOCRATS FOR (26): Akaka, Biden, Bingaman, Boxer, Breaux, Byrd, Cantwell, Carper, Conrad, Daschle, Dayton, Dodd, Durbin, Feinstein, Graham (Fla.), Hollings, Inouye, Kohl, Levin, Lieberman, Mikulski, Nelson, Reed (R.I.), Reid (Nev.), Rockefeller and Sarbanes.
INDEPENDENT FOR (2): Barkley and Jeffords.
REPUBLICANS AGAINST (17): Allard, Brownback, Bunning, Collins, DeWine, Ensign, Fitzgerald, Grassley, Hutchinson (Ariz.), Hutchison (Tex.), McCain, Roberts, Sessions, Smith (N.H.), Smith (Ore), Snowe and Specter.
DEMOCRATS AGAINST (19): Baucus, Bayh, Cleland, Clinton, Corzine, Dorgan, Edwards, Feingold, Johnson, Kerry, Landrieu, Leahy, Lincoln, Miller, Murray, Nelson, Schumer, Stabenow and Wyden.
NOT VOTING (6): Craig, Carnahan, Harkin, Helms, Kennedy and Torricelli.
Senate Kills Labor-Pushed Homeland Bill
On November 13, by a vote of 50 to 47, the Senate voted to table (kill) a substitute version of the Homeland Security Act (HR 5005) pushed by Sen. Joe Lieberman (D.-Conn.) that would have given federal workers special rights and protections from being fired in the new Department of Homeland Security. After defeat of the substitute, and the defeat, 47 to 52, of a Democratic effort to strip from the bill several provisions added by the House, the Senate on November 20, by a 90-to-9 vote, approved the House-passed version of the bill and sent it to the President for his signature.
The Lieberman substitute would have restricted the power of the President to manage personnel in the new department. Lieberman claimed that "the administrations request simply went too far," even though his amendment would have actually taken away from the President powers over personnel decisions that all previous Presidents have had.
The President, Lieberman said, was "usurping not only the fundamental responsibility of Congress to adopt civil service laws, but to undermine important protections that guard the workplace and federal workers against favoritism and also that create some limits on the executive." The substitute supported unions for federal workers involved in national security. These public-sector unions collect federal workers dues, and therefore also happen to be excellent fundraising tools for the Democratic Party.
"I support the right of federal workers to join a union and am troubled that the administration wants to strip existing union representation and collective bargaining rights from many of these workers," said Sen. Russ Feingold (D.-Wis.). "I also am troubled by the implication that union membership is somehow a threat to our national security."
The union provision caused many senators to oppose the substitute, arguing that unions and collective bargaining would diminish the effectiveness of the new security department. Sen. Phil Gramm (R.-Tex.) said that supporters of the Lieberman approach want "to deny the President the power to declare, on a national security basis, that we change the way the bureaucracy works to allow him to put the right person in the right place at the right time."
"Are we today to allow a work agreement and the Federal Labor Relations Authority to override the President if he wants to improve security at Logan Airport?" Gramm asked.
A "yes" vote was a vote to table (kill) the Lieberman substitute, which would have limited the Presidents role in personnel decisions in the new Department of Homeland Security. It was also a vote in favor of the Presidents position. A "no" vote was a vote to bring the Lieberman substitute up for a vote and was, in effect, a vote for the substitute.
REPUBLICANS FOR (48): Allard, Allen, Bennett, Bond, Brownback, Bunning, Burns, Campbell, Chafee, Cochran, Collins, Craig, Crapo, DeWine, Domenici, Ensign, Enzi, Fitzgerald, Frist, Gramm (Tex.), Grassley, Gregg, Hagel, Hatch, Hutchinson (Ariz.), Hutchison (Tex), Inhofe, Kyl, Lott, Lugar, McCain, McConnell, Murkowski, Nickles, Roberts, Santorum, Sessions, Shelby, Smith (N.H.), Smith (Ore.), Snowe, Specter, Stevens, Thomas, Thompson, Thurmond, Voinovich and Warner.
DEMOCRATS FOR (1): Miller.
INDEPENDENT FOR (1): Barkley.
DEMOCRATS AGAINST (46): Akaka, Baucus, Bayh, Biden, Bingaman, Boxer, Breaux, Byrd, Cantwell, Carnahan, Carper, Cleland, Clinton, Conrad, Corzine, Daschle, Dayton, Dodd, Dorgan, Durbin, Edwards, Feingold, Feinstein, Graham (Fla.), Hollings, Inouye, Johnson, Kennedy, Kerry, Kohl, Landrieu, Leahy, Levin, Lieberman, Lincoln, Mikulski, Murray, Nelson (Fla.), Nelson (Neb.), Reed (R.I.), Reid (Nev.), Rockefeller, Sarbaner, Schumer, Stabenow and Wyden.
INDEPENDENTS AGAINST (1): Jeffords.
NOT VOTING (3): Helms, Harkin and Torricelli.
House Kills Pro-Abortion Bankruptcy Rule
On November 14, by a vote of 172 to 243, the House rejected a rule proposed by the Rules Committee to govern floor debate on the conference report on the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (HR 333). Defeat of a rule is very rare in the House, because rules are designed by the House leadership and votes on them are considered party loyalty votes. Nonetheless, 87 Republicans, mostly conservatives, voted against the rule.
The bill-which had passed both the House and Senate in different forms over liberal objections-was intended to prevent individuals who can repay their debt from seeking false protection through misuse of the bankruptcy statutes.
However, liberal Sen. Chuck Schumer (D.-N.Y) pushed through on the Senate floor an amendment that barred pro-life protestors found guilty of violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) from seeking bankruptcy protection if they were unable to pay the fines levied against them. The vast majority of Republicans and some Democrats acknowledged that new bankruptcy legislation was desperately needed, but many pro-life members complained that the Schumer provision violated the right to free speech and protest and specifically targeted pro-lifers.
Pro-life leader Rep. Henry Hyde (R.-Ill.) crafted a compromise with Schumer in the conference committee, rewriting his provision so it applied to all people who prevent access to "lawful goods and services," but this did not satisfy a number of his pro-life colleagues. In a dramatic, extended tally, with many members switching their votes when they saw the rule was going to be defeated, about 80 conservative Republicans bucked their own party leadership-which wanted the bankruptcy bill-and joined the Democrats to defeat the rule on this bill.
One of the leaders of the battle against the Schumer provision, Rep. Joe Pitts (R.-Pa.), said, "We are condemning peaceful, innocent people who have a conscience to protest, just to try to save the life of an unborn, to a life of financial ruin."
But advocates of the bill-including several hard-core pro-lifers-insisted that the provision did not violate any rights and that it should be reluctantly swallowed in an effort to pass the much-needed bankruptcy bill. "Bankruptcy legislation has been debated," said Rep. Melissa Hart (R.-Pa.). "Unfortunately, much of this debate has been focused on the abortion provisions in this bill. I ask my colleagues to look at the real effects of those provisions. They are not effective. They will not harm lawful protesters."
After the rule was defeated, the bankruptcy bill was amended to remove the abortion provision and passed overwhelmingly, 244 to 116. But, with the Schumer provision deleted, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D.-S.D.) refused to bring the bill to the floor before the Senate adjourned November 20. Bankruptcy reform advocates hope a clean bill, without the Schumer provision, can pass the Republican-controlled Congress early next year.
A "yes" vote was a vote for the rule to bring up the bankruptcy reform bill containing a provision some considered discriminatory toward pro-life protestors. A "no" vote was a vote against the rule and was, in effect, a vote to kill the bill.
REPUBLICANS FOR (124): Armey, Bachus, Baker, Barton, Bass, Bereuter, Biggert, Blunt, Boehlert, Boehner, Bonilla, Bono, Brady (TX), Brown (SC), Burr, Buyer, Calvert, Camp, Cannon, Cantor, Capito, Castle, Chabot, Coble, Collins, Cox, Crane, Crenshaw, Culberson, Deal, DeLay, Dreier, Duncan, Dunn, Emerson, English, Fletcher, Foley, Fossella, Frelinghuysen, Gallegly, Ganske, Gekas, Gibbons, Gilchrest, Gillmor, Gilman, Goss, Granger, Graves, Green (WI), Greenwood, Hansen, Hart, Hastert, Hastings (WA), Herger, Hobson, Horn, Hulshof, Hyde, Isakson, Issa, Jenkins, Johnson (CT), Keller, Kelly, King (NY), Kingston, Kirk, Knollenberg, Kolbe, Latham, LaTourette, Leach, Linder, Lucas (OK), McCrery, McHugh, McInnis, Miller, Dan, Morella, Myrick, Nethercutt, Ney, Northup, Nussle, Ose, Oxley, Peterson (PA), Petri, Platts, Pryce (OH), Quinn, Radanovich, Ramstad, Regula, Reynolds, Riley, Rogers (KY), Rohrabacher, Royce, Ryan (WI), Schrock, Sensenbrenner, Sessions, Shays, Sherwood, Simmons, Simpson, Skeen, Smith (MI), Smith (TX), Sweeney, Taylor (NC), Thomas, Tiberi, Upton, Walden, Walsh, Watkins (OK), Weller, Wilson (NM), Young (AK)
DEMOCRATS FOR (48): Baird, Bentsen, Berry, Boswell, Boucher, Carson (OK), Clement, Cramer, Crowley, Davis (FL), Dicks, Dooley, Edwards, Etheridge, Ford, Frost, Gonzalez, Gordon, Hill, Hinojosa, Israel, Johnson, E. B., Kind (WI), Lampson, Larsen (WA), Lucas (KY), Maloney (CT), Maloney (NY), Matheson, McCarthy (NY), Meeks (NY), Moore, Moran (VA), Price (NC), Rivers, Rothman, Skelton, Smith (WA), Snyder, Spratt, Stenholm, Strickland, Tanner, Tauscher, Thompson (CA), Turner, Wu, Wynn
REPUBLICANS AGAINST (87): Aderholt, Akin, Ballenger, Barr, Bartlett, Bilirakis, Boozman, Bryant, Burton, Chambliss, Cubin, Cunningham, Davis, Jo Ann, DeMint, Ehlers, Everett, Ferguson, Flake, Forbes, Goode, Goodlatte, Graham, Gutknecht, Hayes, Hayworth, Hefley, Hilleary, Hoekstra, Hostettler, Hunter, Istook, Johnson, Sam, Johnson (IL), Jones (NC), Kennedy (MN), Kerns, LaHood, Lewis (CA), Lewis (KY), LoBiondo, Manzullo, McKeon, Mica, Miller, Gary, Miller, Jeff, Moran (KS), Norwood, Osborne, Otter, Paul, Pence, Pickering, Pitts, Pombo, Portman, Putnam, Rehberg, Rogers (MI), Ros-Lehtinen, Ryun (KS), Saxton, Schaffer, Shadegg, Shaw, Shimkus, Shuster, Smith (NJ), Souder, Stearns, Sullivan, Sununu, Tancredo, Tauzin, Terry, Thornberry, Thune, Tiahrt, Vitter, Wamp, Watts (OK), Weldon (FL), Weldon (PA), Whitfield, Wicker, Wilson (SC), Wolf, Young (FL)
DEMOCRATS AGAINST (155): Abercrombie, Ackerman, Allen, Andrews, Baca, Baldacci, Baldwin, Barcia, Barrett, Becerra, Berkley, Berman, Bishop, Blumenauer, Bonior, Borski, Brady (PA), Brown (FL), Brown (OH), Capps, Capuano, Cardin, Carson (IN), Clay, Clayton, Clyburn, Conyers, Costello, Coyne, Cummings, Davis (CA), Davis (IL), DeFazio, DeGette, Delahunt, DeLauro, Deutsch ,Dingell, Doggett, Doyle, Engel, Eshoo, Evans, Farr, Fattah, Filner, Frank, Gephardt, Green (TX), Gutierrez, Hall (TX), Harman, Hastings (FL), Hilliard, Hinchey, Hoeffel, Holden, Holt, Honda, Hoyer, Inslee, Jackson (IL), Jackson-Lee (TX), Jefferson, John, Jones (OH), Kanjorski, Kaptur, Kennedy (RI), Kildee, Kilpatrick, Kleczka, Kucinich, LaFalce, Langevin, Lantos, Larson (CT), Lee, Levin, Lewis (GA), Lipinski, Lofgren, Lowey, Luther, Lynch, Markey, Mascara, Matsui, McCarthy (MO), McCollum, McDermott, McGovern, McIntyre, McNulty, Meehan, Meek (FL), Menendez, Millender-McDonald, Miller, George, Mollohan, Murtha, Nadler, Napolitano, Neal, Oberstar, Obey, Olver, Ortiz, Owens, Pallone, Pascrell, Pastor, Payne, Pelosi, Peterson (MN), Phelps, Pomeroy, Rahall, Rangel, Reyes, Rodriguez, Roemer, Ross, Roybal-Allard, Rush, Sabo, Sanchez, Sandlin, Sawyer, Schakowsky, Schiff, Scott, Serrano, Sherman, Shows, Slaughter, Solis, Stark, Stupak, Taylor (MS), Thompson (MS), Thurman, Tierney, Towns, Udall (CO), Udall (NM), Velazquez, Visclosky, Waters, Watson (CA), Watt (NC), Waxman, Weiner, Wexler, Woolsey
INDEPENDENTS AGAINST (1): Sanders
REPUBLICANS (12): Callahan, Combest, Cooksey, Davis, Tom, Diaz-Balart, Doolittle, Ehrlich, Grucci, Houghton, Roukema, Stump, Toomey
DEMOCRATS (5): Blagojevich, Boyd, Condit, Hooley, McKinney