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Recent Senate Votes

May 14, 2009 - by Donny Shaw

There have been a few interesting votes in the Senate recently worth mentioning here. All on amendments to the Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights Act of 2009.

Gun Rights

The first was on and amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn [R, OK] to allow visitors to national parks to carry guns according the laws of the state they are in. Coburn considers this not just a second amendment issue, but also about self defense. “National parks, while still generally safe for visitors, have seen an increase in crime recently,” wrote on his website.

The amendment was approved by the Senate by a 67-29 vote. All Republicans except Sen. Lamar Alexander [R, TN] voted in favor. Twenty-nine Democrats also voted in favor. One surprising vote, to me, was Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand [D, NY], who voted against the amendment despite, as a Rep., having a 100% voting record with the NRA, and an “A” lifetime rating.

Interest Rate Cap

The second was on an amendment from Sen. Bernard Sanders [I, VT] that would have added some teeth to the bill by establishing a nationwide cap on credit card interest rates at 15 percent. It would allow credit card companies to charge higher rates if the Federal Reserve determines that the 15 percent cap threatens the “safety and soundness of individual lenders, as evidenced by adverse trends in liquidity, capital, earnings, and growth.”

The amendment was rejected by a vote of 33-60. One Republican, Sen. Charles Grassley [R, IA], joined 31 Democrats and Sen. Sanders in support of the bill. Thirty-eight Republicans, 21 Democrats and Sen. Joseph Lieberman [I, CT] in opposing the amendment.

National Debt Disclosure

The Third vote was on a Sen. Judd Gregg [R, NH] “debt disclosure” amendment designed "to enhance public knowledge regarding the national debt by requiring the publication of the facts about the national debt on IRS instructions, Federal websites, and in new legislation. " It would require that any new spending from Congress is accompanied by information on the current debt level, the current level of debt per U.S. citizen and how much the new spending would increase the debt.

Additionally, the amendment would require the per individual taxpayer share of the Federal public debt would have to be included “in a prominent place” on all tax forms and all government websites to display a “national debt clock.”

The amendment failed by a single vote. The final vote tally was 59-35. All Republicans and 19 Democrats voted in favor. 33 Democrats and two Independent-Democrats voted against it.

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