For the Record

Here's how some major bills fared recently in Congress, and how local congressional members voted, as provided by Thomas Voting Reports. NV means Not Voting.

House Votes

CENTRAL AMERICAN TRADE

For: 217 / Against: 215

Members sent President Bush a bill (HR 3045) to implement the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), which reduces trade barriers between the United States and the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Supporters said CAFTA would boost economic growth in all signatory nations while protecting U.S. intellectual property rights. Critics said the treaty would export U.S. jobs to countries with low wages, weak labor protections and poor environmental records and would harm U.S. sugar growers and textile manufacturers. A yes vote was to approve CAFTA.

MARYLAND

Y

N

NV

Bartlett (R)

*

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Cardin (D)

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*

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Cummings (D)

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*

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Gilchrest (R)

*

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Hoyer (D)

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*

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Ruppersberger (D)

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*

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Van Hollen (D)

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*

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Wynn (D)

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*

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POSTAL SERVICE CHANGES

For: 410 / Against: 20

The House passed a bill (HR 22) addressing fiscal problems at the U.S. Postal Service. The bill, which awaits Senate action, shifts pension and military service obligations to the Treasury, and thus ultimately to taxpayers, and allows $73 billion in escrowed pension funds to be allocated for health care obligations and other purposes. Although it seeks fiscal improvement, the bill would increase the agency's deficit spending by $6 billion over 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The bill also would avert a 5.4 percent rate increase planned for next year, coordinate rate increases with increases in the Consumer Price Index, retain six-day-a-week universal service while authorizing a study of such service and allow money-losing post offices to be consolidated.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

MARYLAND

Y

N

NV

Bartlett (R)

*

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Cardin (D)

*

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Cummings (D)

*

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Gilchrest (R)

*

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Hoyer (D)

*

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Ruppersberger (D)

*

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Van Hollen (D)

*

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Wynn (D)

*

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POSTAL PRIVATIZATION

For: 51 / Against: 379

Members rejected an amendment to HR 22 (above) authorizing pilot programs to test private mail delivery at 20 post offices nationwide. The amendment authorized competitive bidding to select private companies that would seek to provide more efficient, less expensive delivery.

A yes vote was to test privatization.

MARYLAND

Y

N

NV

Bartlett (R)

*

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Cardin (D)

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*

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Cummings (D)

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*

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Gilchrest (R)

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*

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Hoyer (D)

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*

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Ruppersberger (D)

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*

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Van Hollen (D)

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*

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Wynn (D)

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*

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SMALL-BUSINESS HEALTH PLANS

For: 263 / Against: 165

The House passed a bill (HR 525) authorizing small businesses to band together to establish federally regulated "association health plans" for employees. The bill would give the U.S. Department of Labor jurisdiction over these plans and would preempt state laws and regulations in areas such as coverage mandates and solvency requirements. The bill is before the Senate, which has rejected similar measures in recent years.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

MARYLAND

Y

N

NV

Bartlett (R)

*

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Cardin (D)

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*

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Cummings (D)

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*

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Gilchrest (R)

*

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Hoyer (D)

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*

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Ruppersberger (D)

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*

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Van Hollen (D)

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*

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Wynn (D)

*

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DEMOCRATIC ALTERNATIVE

For: 197 / Against: 230

Members defeated a Democratic alternative to HR 525 (above). The measure sought to allow small businesses to form associations for purchasing medical coverage patterned after the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, which covers members of Congress and civil servants. Under the federal plan, dozens of private insurers compete for the business of a large pool of comparatively healthy people whose premiums are subsidized by taxpayers. Participating insurers submit to state regulations.

A yes vote backed the Democratic alternative.

MARYLAND

Y

N

NV

Bartlett (R)

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*

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Cardin (D)

*

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Cummings (D)

*

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Gilchrest (R)

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*

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Hoyer (D)

*

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Ruppersberger (D)

*

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Van Hollen (D)

*

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Wynn (D)

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*

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NATIONAL ENERGY POLICY

For: 275 / Against: 156

The House approved 1,700 pages of tax breaks, loan guarantees, subsidies, regulatory relief, program changes and other measures that make up a national energy policy. The conference report (HR 6) provides at least $14 billion over 10 years in incentives for oil and gas exploration, coal extraction, nuclear energy, energy efficiency, conservation, and the development of renewable energy from sources such as the wind and sun. Even with its emphasis on domestic production, the bill is projected to allow foreign oil's share of U.S. consumption to rise from nearly 60 percent today to nearly 70 percent in 2025.

The bill doubles production of the gasoline additive ethanol to 7.5 billion gallons annually by 2012; extends daylight saving time by two weeks in March and two weeks in November; keeps fuel-economy standards for vehicles at present levels and does not address global warming; sets reliability standards for regional electrical grids; empowers the federal government to override state and local decisions in locating energy transmission lines and terminals for liquefied natural gas; and requires more efficient consumer appliances.

A yes vote was to approve the conference report.

MARYLAND

Y

N

NV

Bartlett (R)

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*

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Cardin (D)

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*

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Cummings (D)

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*

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Gilchrest (R)

*

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Hoyer (D)

*

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Ruppersberger (D)

*

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Van Hollen (D)

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*

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Wynn (D)

*

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HIGHWAYS, MASS TRANSIT

For: 412 / Against: 8

The House approved the conference report on a bill (HR 3) to spend $286.4 billion over six years for transportation projects, with about 80 percent of funds allocated to highway and bridge construction, about 18 percent to mass transit, and the remainder to road safety and other initiatives. The bill is funded mainly by the 18.4 cents-per-gallon federal gasoline tax. The measure funds about 4,000 home-state projects that were designated by members of Congress rather than state and local transportation officials.

A yes vote was to approve the conference report.

MARYLAND

Y

N

NV

Bartlett (R)

*

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Cardin (D)

*

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Cummings (D)

*

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Gilchrest (R)

*

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Hoyer (D)

*

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Ruppersberger (D)

*

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Van Hollen (D)

*

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Wynn (D)

*

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$3.8 BILLION CONGRESS

For: 305 / Against: 122

Members approved the conference report on a $3.8 billion legislative branch budget (HR 2985) for fiscal 2006, up 4.5 percent from 2005. The bill funds continued construction of an underground U.S. Capitol visitors center that is projected to cost $600 million -- nearly seven times the original estimate -- when it opens behind schedule in 2007 or later. The bill raises the House's 2006 operating budget by 5 percent, to $1.09 billion, and the Senate's by 7.6 percent, to $785.5 million.

The bill includes a succession plan in the event that at least 100 members die in a terrorist attack or other disaster. States would have 45 days to pick replacements with special elections.

A yes vote backed the conference report.

MARYLAND

Y

N

NV

Bartlett (R)

*

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Cardin (D)

*

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Cummings (D)

*

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Gilchrest (R)

*

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Hoyer (D)

*

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Ruppersberger (D)

*

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Van Hollen (D)

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*

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Wynn (D)

*

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Senate Votes

SALES TO TERRORISTS

For: 47 / Against: 51

Senators refused to prevent foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies from doing business with countries such as Iran that are state sponsors of terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. The amendment was offered to the 2006 defense budget (S 1042), which remained in debate. U.S. economic sanctions prohibit U.S. companies from doing business with countries designated by the State Department as sponsors of terrorism. But a loophole allows U.S. companies to set up foreign subsidiaries for conducting business with those countries.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

MARYLAND

Y

N

NV

Mikulski (D)

*

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Sarbanes (D)

*

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GUN MANUFACTURERS' IMMUNITY

For: 66 / Against: 32

Senators advanced a bill (S 397) giving gun manufacturers and dealers immunity against most product-liability lawsuits based on the illegal use of firearms. Plaintiffs in such suits are mainly state and local governments and crime victims. The bill would ban pending as well as future suits. The Senate was expected to approve the bill and send it to the House.

A yes vote was to pass the bill.

MARYLAND

Y

N

NV

Mikulski (D)

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*

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Sarbanes (D)

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*

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MANDATORY GUN SAFETY

For: 70 / Against: 30

Senators amended S 397 (above) to require all handguns sold in the United States to be accompanied by child-safety devices such as trigger locks or gun safes.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

MARYLAND

Y

N

NV

Mikulski (D)

*

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Sarbanes (D)

*

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