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

IMMUNITY FOR GUN INDUSTRY

For: 283 / Against: 144

Members sent President Bush a bill (S 397) giving manufacturers and dealers of guns and ammunition immunity against most civil lawsuits based on the illegal use of their products by others. Plaintiffs in such actions are mainly state and local governments and crime victims. The bill, which would ban pending as well as future litigation, contains exemptions to allow suits in such instances as breach of contract and the making of defective products.

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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*

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OBESITY LAWSUITS

For: 306 / Against: 120

Members passed a bill (HR 554) to shield the fast-food industry against state and federal claims that its meals cause obesity and illnesses related to obesity. Supporters said obesity is the customer's fault; opponents said it is the role of the courts, not Congress, to judge the validity of legal claims.

The bill, which awaits Senate action, affects present and future claims and would allow obesity-related suits only when the defendant has broken the law or violated a contract or warranty.

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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Van Hollen (D)

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*

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Wynn (D)

*

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CHILDREN'S EXEMPTION

For: 129 / Against: 298

Members defeated an amendment to HR 554 (above) that sought to allow obesity lawsuits against fast-food chains filed on behalf of children younger than 8. Supporters said children are bombarded with ads encouraging excessive consumption of unhealthy foods. Opponents said it would hold food companies liable for the actions of irresponsible parents.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

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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*

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Van Hollen (D)

*

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Wynn (D)

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*

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Senate Votes

CONGRESSIONAL PAY RAISE

For: 92 / Against: 6

Senators voted to block a 1.9 percent pay raise, totaling $3,100, scheduled for members of Congress in January. The raise, from $162,100 to $165,200, appears certain, however, because the House has voted to accept it; it takes actions by both chambers to block congressional pay raises. This vote occurred during debate on a fiscal 2006 budget bill (HR 3058) for the Treasury Department and other agencies.

Barring a House reversal, rank-and-file lawmakers will receive $165,200 next year; the House speaker and the secretary of the Senate will be paid $212,100; and the majority and minority leaders of both chambers will receive $183,500.

No senator spoke against the amendment.

A yes vote was to block a congressional pay raise.

MARYLAND

Y

N

NV

Mikulski (D)

*

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Sarbanes (D)

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*

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MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE

For: 47 / Against: 51

Senators defeated an amendment to HR 3058 (above) to raise the minimum wage by $1.10 per hour over 18 months from $5.15 per hour to $6.25 per hour. This would be the first increase in the minimum wage since 1997.

A yes vote was to raise the minimum wage.

MARYLAND

Y

N

NV

Mikulski (D)

*

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Sarbanes (D)

*

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ALASKA, LOUISIANA BRIDGES

For: 15 / Against: 82

Senators refused to shift $75 million from two bridge projects in Alaska to the rebuilding of the hurricane-destroyed Interstate 10 twin span near New Orleans. In part, the amendment to HR 3058 (above) would have derailed spending of at least $223 million to connect Ketchikan, population 8,900, with an airport on Gravina Island, population 50. Also targeted was a $230 million down payment on the planned Don Young Way near Anchorage, named after the Alaska congressman who secured its funding in the House.

A yes vote backed the amendment.

MARYLAND

Y

N

NV

Mikulski (D)

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*

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Sarbanes (D)

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*

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HOME HEATING AID

For: 53 / Against: 46

Senators failed to reach the supermajority needed to more than double federal aid to help the poor heat their homes this winter. The amendment to HR 3058 (above) sought to raise fiscal 2006 spending for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program from $2 billion to $5.1 billion.

No senator spoke against the amendment.

A yes vote was to increase spending for the energy program.

MARYLAND

Y

N

NV

Mikulski (D)

*

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Sarbanes (D)

*

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