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Entry for February 18, 2009

February 18, 2009
Should D.C. Get a Seat in the House? Tell Congress.‏

This Week in Congress

Your Headlines, Your Issues, Your Opinions

February 17, 2009

SHOULD D.C. GET A SEAT IN CONGRESS?
For years, the District of Columbia has pushed for a full-voting seat in the House. They currently have a Delegate who votes only in committee. Under a deal that passed out of a Senate committee, the House would be expanded by two seats, one for D.C. and one for Utah, for a new total of 437 seats in the chamber. As D.C. is expected to elect a Democrat and Utah a Republican, the partisan balance is not expected to change. Should the House of Representatives be expanded to provide a full-voting seat to D.C.? Select your initial view below for more details.

ACTION POLL: (Cast Your Vote by Sending a Message)
Support a Seat for D.C. in Congress
Oppose a Seat for D.C. in Congress

Visit Congress.org on Wednesday afternoon to see the first results.

ACTION POLL RESULTS FROM LAST WEEK:
BIPARTISANSHIP VS. PRINCIPLED STAND
29,228 messages sent.
41% Said Pursue Bipartisanship and Compromise
59% Said Stick to Your Principles, No Matter the Costs

SENATE PASSES $787 BILLION STIMULUS BILL 60-38
Three Republicans vote for the bill. (How They Voted) The House passed the final version of the stimulus bill again with no GOP votes. (How They Voted)

Tell your Members of Congress how you feel about their votes by entering your ZIP code in the box at the top of the page.
ALSO: The White House released a report showing the job impact by congressional district. How many jobs will be impacted in your district? See the chart here. (PDF file)

February 17, 2009

In this MegaVote for Maryland’s 4th Congressional District:

Recent Congressional Votes –

· Senate: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

· House: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009


Editor’s Note: The Senate and House are in recess until Monday, February 23, 2009.

Recent Senate Votes

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – Vote Agreed to (60-38, 1 Not Voting)

The Senate agreed to the conference report of this stimulus bill, sending it to the President.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski voted
YES……send e-mail or see bio
Sen. Benjamin Cardin voted
YES……send e-mail or see bio


Recent House Votes

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – Vote Passed (246-183, 1 Present, 3 Not Voting)

The House gave final approval to this stimulus bill.

Rep. Donna Edwards voted
YES……send e-mail or see bio


February 13, 2009

Dear Thalia,

This week, after significant consultation between the President and bipartisan leaders in Congress, we passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. I strongly supported this measure because I believe it will stimulate our economy in the near term, assist working families that are struggling to make ends meet, and set the stage for long term economic growth.

First, this measure will put Americans to work rebuilding our nation’s critical infrastructure – roads and bridges, public transportation, water and sewer systems, and public schools. But in the 21st Century, our electronic infrastructure is just as important for economic success as our physical infrastructure. That is why the recovery package provides resources for broadband deployment, so all regions of our country can enjoy the economic growth that accompanies high speed Internet access. It also provides grants to relieve congestion on our electrical grid and commits us to digital health records so we can reduce cost and help more Americans access care. These are investments we have put off for much too long. By taking action now, we will save or create jobs for three million Americans, strengthen our nation’s economic backbone, and allow commerce to flow more freely to all parts of our country. We are literally building stronger communities and a more secure America!

Some have criticized this package because they believe it includes too much spending. It is a fair concern and I do not take the investment of this amount of taxpayer money lightly. But throughout our nation’s history, and ever since the New Deal helped to ease the crush of the Great Depression, there has been general consensus among economists and policy experts that targeted government spending is an effective form of stimulus in an economic downt
urn. That we are using this spending to rebuild the infrastructure upon which our long term economic competitiveness depends is a further benefit.

I also acknowledge that tax cuts for working Americans can help ease the pinch by allowing families to keep more of their hard earned money. If tax cuts are effectively targeted, they also encourage consumer spending. That is why the package:

• provides tax relief to 95 percent of American workers through a refundable tax credit of up to $400 per worker;
• offers a $250 credit to disabled veterans, social security recipients no longer in the workforce and federal retirees;
• increases the earned income tax credit (EITC) and expands the child tax credit;
• creates an “American Opportunity” education tax credit for individuals seeking a college education;
• increases the homebuyer tax credit passed late last year, and eliminates the repayment requirement for all homes purchased in the first half of 2009.

To assist small businesses in creating jobs and spur investment H.R. 1:

• allows businesses to write off losses incurred in 2008 against taxes assessed over the previous five years;
• extends the increased bonus depreciation and small business expensing for any investments in new plants and equipment in 2009;
• allows tax credits for hiring recently discharged unemployed veterans and youth.

The action we have taken will be a desperately needed “shot in the arm” for our ailing economy, but we also need a long term strategy that will ensure America’s prosperity for future generations. One example of where we can take bold steps to address economic, national security, and environmental policy priorities is the energy sector. It is more important than ever for America to adopt an aggressive strategy to develop alternative sources of energy. Only by ending our addiction to oil will we be able to retain our competitive advantage as a nation and ensure a promising future for our children. Just as growth in information technology served as the driving force behind the economic boom of the 1990’s, the development of green technology and green jobs will spur tremendous growth and offer long-term relief to the American economy by making us less dependent on energy from volatile areas of the world.

Again, I appreciate that many of you took the time to contact my office during the debate over the economic recovery package and I look forward to maintaining this dialogue as the Congress considers future measures to put our nation back on track. I will continue to keep you updated on this situation and, more generally, my work in the Congress. If you would like to find more detailed information about the recovery package, you can go to www.recovery.gov– a site established by the Obama Administration dedicated to transparent and accountable government. If you would like to sign up to see more regular updates from my office, please sign up for the Sarbanes Standard at http://www.sarbanes.house.gov.


John P. Sarbanes

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CONTACT INFORMATION
Annapolis Office:
Arundel Center
44 Calvert St. Suite 349
Annapolis, MD 21401
Phone: (410) 295-1679
Fax: (410) 295-1682
Towson Office:
600 Baltimore Avenue
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Phone: (410) 832-8890
Fax: (410) 832-8898
Washington, D.C.
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Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-4016
Fax: (202) 225-9219

This Week in Congress

Your Headlines, Your Issues, Your Opinions

February 08, 2009

THE PRESIDENT VS. CONGRESS.
REPUBLICAN VS. DEMOCRAT.
IS BIPARTISANSHIP THE CURE OR THE PROBLEM?

President Barack Obama campaigned on a pledge to change governing as we know it. He sought a large bipartisan majority on the stimulus package, which the Senate appeared close to achieving Friday evening. A bipartisan group of Senators has been negotiating to remove as much as $100 billion in spending, but that group dwindles every day as leaders on both sides of the aisle pressure their rank and file to stick to the party line. If the bill does pass, it will likely do so with just a handful of GOP Senators crossing the divide and helping the majority reach the 60 votes needed.

Perhaps bipartisanship is a fantasy that will never come true. Is it even desirable? President Barack Obama is now saying he should be able to push his views because he and the Democrats won. He discussed the bill directly with House Republicans but they rebuffed him and not a single Republican voted for the stimulus bill in that chamber. There are some Republicans who believe their job is to stick to party principles no matter what. They think they lost the election by not pushing hard enough to reduce taxes and spending. If bipartisanship leads to gridlock and the possibility of nothing being done to halt the economic collapse,are bipartisanship and changing the way Washington works worth the risk and effort?

Tell Congress and President Obama whether they should pursue bipartisanship even if it means compromising on some of their principles and goals in the short term. Or should they stick to their own principles and hold out no matter the cost?

ACTION POLL: (Cast your vote by sending a message)
Pursue Bipartisanship and Compromise
Stick to Your Principles, No Matter the Cost

SENATE DEBATES $937 BILLION STIMULUS BILL
The House passed a stimulus bill last week with no GOP votes. (How They Voted) The Senate debated many amendments last week, most of which were offered by Republicans. Senate Majority Leader – Harry Reid (D-Nev.) hopes for a final bill by the end of Friday. Here are the amendments agreed to thus far:

• A proposal by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to strip $246 million in tax breaks for Hollywood production companies.

• A proposal by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) to provide a tax credit for new auto purchases.

• A proposal by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to prohibit any recipient of Troubled Assets Relief Program funds from hiring H-1B visa holders. It was agreed to by a voice vote.

• A proposal by Coburn that would block stimulus funds from being used for a variety of “non-stimulative” purposes, including casinos, aquariums, community parks, theaters and highway beautification projects. It was agreed to by a 73-24 vote.

• A proposal by Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) to expand eligibility for the employment tax credit for unemployed veterans. It was accepted by a voice vote.

• A Coburn amendment to require the use of competitive procedures to award funds under the grant. It was adopted, 97-0. The Senate version, which will combine two bills (S. 350 and S. 336), differs from the House versi
on H.R. 1. The Senate bill provides for a temporary fix to the alternative minimum tax and additional spending.

The stimulus package has been criticized from all sides. The GOP says there aren’t enough tax cuts. Democrats want more spending. Some question the effect of the stimulus, especially some of the proposed spending. Economists say something big needs to be done fast. Should Congress pass or defeat the Senate version of the stimulus bill? Select your view below and tell Congress what you think. (11,880 messages thus far)

ACTION POLL: (Cast your vote by sending a message)
11% Support the Proposed Senate Economic Stimulus Package
89% Oppose the Proposed Senate Economic Stimulus Package

No one is going to offer your church a big bailout. Your
members will use the blessing God gives them to bless other
people through the work of your church.

But, let me ask you this, “When was the last time your
members got excited about ‘Church Giving’?”

Church leaders do not want to have to worry about it and
church members hate to hear about it.

But, every ministry in your church depends on it. And during
though economic times giving will drop off.

What if there was a Biblical way to increase giving that
respected your members AND worked?

No more high pressure, no more begging church members to
‘honor their pledges’, and no more budget shortfalls.

Find out the methods used by thousands of growing churches
to increasing giving the painless way.

In Him,
–Curt Gunz
http://YourChurchDirect.net/church_giving.html

Would you like to cut the learning curve of great small
group ministry, so they are fun and help you grow?

If you would, I think you are going to be very happy about
this.

You can find out how to save time and answer the questions
your key church leaders have about small group ministry.

* Do you wonder what to do with children during small
groups…
* Do your small groups reach out to every single
visitor…
* Are your leaders good at promoting discussion and
leading group members to deep Biblical insight…
* Can look at any curriculum and tell if it is a winner
or not…

What would it mean to have church members enthusiastic and
committed to small group ministry?

What would it mean to avoid the mistake that most churches
make when they are starting out?

What would it mean to have one, two, three…can’t miss…
can’t mess-up steps to great small groups?

I think you should click this link immediately… because…
unless I miss my guess, as soon as you do, it is going to
brighten up your small group ministry considerably.

In Him,

–Curt Gunz

P.S. Here is the link: http://YourMinistryResource.net/small_groups.html

When was the last time your members got excited about
‘Church Giving’?

Church leaders do not want to have to worry about it and
church members hate to hear about it.

But, every ministry in your church depends on it. And during
though economic times giving will drop off.

What if there was a Biblical way to increase giving that
respected your members AND worked?

No more high pressure, no more begging church members to
‘honor their pledges’, and no more budget shortfalls.

Find out the methods used by thousands of growing churches
to increasing giving the painless way.

In Him,
–Curt Gunz,
http://YourMinistryResource.net/giving.html

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