Here’s how area members of Congress voted on major issues in the week ending Sept. 8.
$15.3 BILLION FOR DISASTER RELIEF: Voting 316 for and 90 against, the House on Friday gave final congressional approval to a bill (HR 601) that would appropriate $15.3 billion in disaster aid for recovery from hurricanes Harvey and Irma while raising the national debt limit through Dec. 8 and funding the government on a stopgap basis for the same period. Because this is emergency spending not offset elsewhere in the budget, it would be added to federal deficits.
The bill locked in a deal between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats that set a far shorter debt-limit extension than the 18 months sought by Republican leaders. All negative votes were cast by Republicans.
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The bill would provide $350 million for Small Business Administration loans and grants, $7.45 billion for Federal Emergency Management Agency aid to storm victims and $7 billion-plus to fund community-development block grants for the immediate rebuilding of towns and cities.
A yes vote was to send the bill to President Trump.
Reps. Glenn Thompson, R-Howard Township, and Bill Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg, voted yes.
HURRICANE HARVEY DISASTER AID: Voting 419 for and three against, the House on Wednesday passed an earlier version of HR 601 (above) that sought to appropriate $7.85 billion in Hurricane Harvey disaster relief, including $7.45 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and $450 million in Small Business Administration aid for rebuilding areas of Texas and Louisiana devastated by the storm. The entire outlay was to have been deficit spending.
A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.
Thompson and Shuster voted yes.
RETENTION OF SUBSIDIZED AIR TRAVEL: Voting 140 for and 280 against, the House on Wednesday refused to kill the Essential Air Service program by removing its $150 million budget from a fiscal 2018 appropriations bill (HR 3354) that remained in debate. Under the EAS program, airlines receive taxpayer subsidies to provide two-to-four round trips daily between about 160 participating communities and hub airports. The program is funded by user fees as well as public funds.
A yes vote was to effectively kill the Essential Air Service program.
Thompson and Shuster voted no.
RETENTION OF AMTRAK SUBSIDY: Voting 128 for and 193 against, the House on Wednesday refused to strip a pending appropriations bill (HR 3354, above) of its $1.1 billion subsidy for Amtrak, thus killing the nation’s rail passenger agency by shutting down all 15 of its long-distance routes and all 28 of its state-supported routes. Overall, Amtrak reaches more than 500 communities in 46 states.
A yes vote was to defund Amtrak.
Thompson and Shuster voted no.
$15.3 BILLION FOR DISASTER RELIEF: Voting 80 for and 17 against, the Senate on Thursday approved a bill (HR 601, above) that would appropriate $15.3 billion in disaster aid for recovery from hurricanes Harvey and Irma while raising the national debt limit through Dec. 8 and funding the government on a stopgap basis for the same period. The spending would be added to annual deficits rather than offset elsewhere in the budget.
A yes vote was to send the bill back to the House.
Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., voted yes; Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., voted no.
‘PAY AS YOU GO’ FOR HURRICANE RELIEF: Voting 87 for and 10 against, the Senate on Thursday tabled an amendment to HR 601 (above) that sought to keep the bill’s $15.3 billion expenditure deficit-neutral by cutting the same amount from foreign assistance accounts.
A yes vote opposed “pay as you go” for the bill.
Casey voted yes; Toomey voted no.