Monday, June 30, 2008

Pete Sessions responds to H.R. 6331 vote

Today, I received an email from Pete Sessions, in response to my email urging him to vote yes to H.R. 6331. In response, he sent a form letter about Medicare Advantage, which did not acknowledge my call for passage of H.R. 6331. He writes:
Thank you for contacting Congressman Sessions regarding the Medicare Advantage program. I appreciate you taking the time to share your views on this matter.

In the past, when individuals became eligible for Medicare they had no choice; they were enrolled in traditional Medicare fee-for-service. Now, however, those enrolled in Medicare Advantage may choose from Preferred Provider Organizations, Provider Sponsored Organizations, Private Fee-For-Service, Medical Savings Accounts, and Health Maintenance Organizations. By allowing choice, market competition has increased and consumers are able to receive a higher quality of service at lower rates.

The available options in the Medicare Advantage program allow senior citizens to choose their plan according to their individual needs. Without these choices, the quality of health care for America's senior citizens would diminish. I believe Medicare patients are best equipped to choose the most suitable plan, not the federal government...
Medicare Advantage is a privatized plan, generating huge profits for the insurance industry and not much of anything for the rest of us. This document, prepared by the Alliance of Retired Americans calls Medicare Advantage A Windfall For Insurers; Downfall for Beneficiaries; an article by Ben Wasserman of explains that payments to Medicare private insurers for Medicare Advantage plans cost the government 13 percent more than traditional Medicare, and presents a concise overview of the latest Medicare votes.

Pete Sessions voted against G.I. Bill 2008

This afternoon, I got an email from the IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America) saying that President Bush has signed the G.I. Bill 2008 into law:
Today, history was made.

Just this morning, President Bush signed the new GI Bill into law. Since we are only a few days away from celebrating the 4th of July, this milestone is a fitting way to honor our veterans who have bravely served this nation.

IAVA has led the fight for the new GI Bill from the beginning, and your dedication over the past year and a half ensured that our lawmakers kept it a top priority. Over 20,000 of you called your representatives in Congress, spread the word in your communities and signed the petition at Thanks to your hard work, we finally achieved our goal...
On the website, there's a link to see if your representative voted for the bill. I'm thinking that surely Pete Sessions would support our veterans and sign this bill.

But no, Pete Session let the troops down and voted no to H.R. 2642. List of yeas and nays available at this link: Roll Call No. 330. For more information about this new G.I. Bill, see the "quickfacts" at the IAVA website: A New G.I. Bill: Rewarding our Troops, Rebuilding our Military

Friday, June 27, 2008

Pete Sessions one of only 19 against Energy Markets Emergency Act of 2008

Pete Sessions was one of only 19 House members to vote against the Energy Markets Emergency Act of 2008, "To direct the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to utilize all its authority, including its emergency powers, to curb immediately the role of excessive speculation in any contract market within the jurisdiction and control of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, on or through which energy futures or swaps are traded, and to eliminate excessive speculation, price distortion, sudden or unreasonable fluctuations or unwarranted changes in prices, or other unlawful activity that is causing major market disturbances that prevent the market from accurately reflecting the forces of supply and demand for energy commodities."

This bill passed 402-19, with 13 not voting. Roll call information available at this link: Roll Call 468

Pete Sessions votes against public transportation

Once again, Pete Sessions found himself among the minority in Congress who voted against H.R.6052, "To promote increased public transportation use, to promote increased use of alternative fuels in providing public transportation, and for other purposes." The bill passed 322 - 98 (See Roll Call No. 467)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Pete Sessions votes "no" on Medicare bill

Yesterday, the House passed H.R. 6331 by a veto-proof majority, "To amend titles XVIII and XIX of the Social Security Act to extend expiring provisions under the Medicare Program, to improve beneficiary access to preventive and mental health services, to enhance low-income benefit programs, and to maintain access to care in rural areas, including pharmacy access, and for other purposes." What this bill does is block further cuts to Medicare reimbursements. The bill is supported by just about everybody but insurance company lobbyists who want to eviscerate Medicare in favor of more privatization.

The bill passed 355 - 59, Pete Sessions being one of the 59 who voted against it.

The bill is supported by the American Medical Association; in this op-ed, AMA President Nancy H. Nielsen, MD urges the Senate to follow suit by passing a veto-proof bill:
"Today, we stand at the brink of a Medicare meltdown. On July 1 — just five days from now — the government will slash Medicare physician payments by 10.6 percent.

"This cut would force 60 percent of doctors to limit the number of new Medicare patients they treat. More than half of doctors say they'd need to cut staff, and 14 percent say they'd quit patient care altogether...

..."The House made this critical issue a top priority. On Tuesday, the House of Representatives acted decisively to pass this legislation — H.R. 6331 — by an overwhelming, veto-proof, bipartisan margin of 355 to 59.

"Now, it's the Senate's turn to consider this same legislation. We urge the Senate to act today - before their Fourth of July recess — to stop these cuts and allow Medicare to keep its promise to America's seniors.

"We can't put patients into limbo —where their physicians are forced to make no-win decisions just to keep their office doors open. Medicare patients deserve better from Washington! And frankly, so do those who care for Medicare patients.

"We've made a diagnosis. The treatment is clear. The House has prepped the patient. Now the Senate needs to administer the cure.

"Access to Medicare for our patients — among them some of the most vulnerable of our family, friends and neighbors — hangs in the balance. There's a lot at stake, and today the physicians of America call on the Senate to do the right thing for the Greatest Generation."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pete Sessions: "...the energy companies are our friends."

Just saw this, from Think Progress--it's Pete Sessions speaking on the House floor on behalf of his friends in the oil industry:
SESSIONS: "What do we hear back from Washington, DC? … “Let’s stick it to Big Oil!” Well, in fact, what we ought to be saying is that energy companies are our friends. … What are the energy companies saying? They’re saying please give us the opportunity to go where there is oil or the perception that there’s oil and go looking for it and provide it to the American public."

The energy companies are certainly friends of Pete Sessions. Since 2004, Sessions has received over $330,000 from the oil and gas industry. In return, Sessions is aggressively promoting greater oil drilling. But as the Energy Information Administration states, increased drilling in the outer continental shelf will have an “insignificant” impact on oil prices.
Video at this link.

House votes to override Bush veto of farm bill--Pete Sessions votes "no"

Yesterday, the House voted to override Bush's veto of H.R. 6124, "To provide for the continuation of agricultural and other programs of the Department of Agriculture through fiscal year 2012, and for other purposes." Even our two pro-Bush Senators, Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn voted in favor of overriding Bush's veto of their Senate bill. The slim minority who voted against this bill is illustrated by this map, by Notice that Texas voted against President Bush, putting us with the majority of the country. Only Utah, Wyoming and Wisconsin are in the president's column, along with Pete Sessions and a handful of Texas congressmen. (See Roll Call 417).

Pete Sessions clinging to McCain's coattails

From Dallas Morning News:
Dallas-area Republicans need Mr. McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee, to be a powerful draw at the top of their ticket...

..."He's going to bring us all together," Rep. Pete Sessions , R-Dallas, said of Mr. McCain. "He will win Texas."

The question for Mr. Sessions and others who attended the fundraiser is: Can Mr. McCain win Dallas County?

... Every county Republican's chances hinge on whether Mr. McCain can be competitive here.

In 2006, straight-ticket voting, among other things, helped doom Republicans such as former County Judge Margaret Keliher. She was swept out of office by little-known Democrat Jim Foster.

George W. Bush narrowly carried Dallas County in the last two presidential contests. And he was a Texan running in years when the Republican brand was not tarnished.

And only now are Texas Republicans rallying around Mr. McCain in earnest, with most saying Mr. Obama would be a worse alternative.

The primary contest, though, showed Mr. Obama is most dominant in areas like Dallas and Harris counties.

The Democratic, independent and new voters he brings to the polls could wash away any McCain momentum...
At the beginning, Pete Sessions supported Giulianni, which caused quite a stir among right-wing purists who asked why a staunch pro-life congressman would support a left-of-center candidate. This blog post from the right-wing Human Events Online indicate that hard-R voters in this district are getting tired of Pete Sessions:
Pete Session[s] is my Congressman, and believe me, he'll sell out the social conservatives at the drop of a hat for personal gain. Rudy Giuliani must have offered him a top job in exchange for delivering the pro-life vote. After he wins, Rudy will do his usual pro-choice thing, Pete Sessions will get a top appointment, and both will hope the social conservatives forget all the campaign promises...
Now, Pete Sessions is counting on McCain's popularity in Dallas County to carry him back to the Congress, a county that went Democratic in 2006 and is increasingly turning away from anybody connected with Bush.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Pete Sessions chickens out on impeachment vote

In a previous blog post, Pete Sessions was quoted as saying, "Everybody hates George Bush," but apparently, "hating" him only goes so far. Pete Sessions was given an opportunity to cast a vote on impeachment, but chickened out. He was one of only 16 House members who declined to go on record one way or the other. (H. Res. 1258, Roll No. 401. The resolution passed 251-166, to send it on to the Judiciary Committee.

Pete Sessions votes 'no' to Amtrak

Yesterday, the House passed H.R. 6003, Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 by a veto-proof majority of 311 yeas to 104 nays, with Pete Sessions, of course, being one of the nay-sayers. (See Roll No. 400. From Southern Mississippi's Sun-Herald:
The House on Wednesday approved a large investment in passenger rail service by re-authorizing Amtrak with $14.9 billion for capital and operating grants, state intercity passenger grants, and high-speed rail over the next five years, including proposed corridors in Texas and Mississippi...

...Unlike past battles, the House debate was overwhelmingly positive as members cited the high cost of gasoline and the need to provide national rail service in support of the bill.

"Given this energy and congestion crisis, Americans need transportation solutions that are affordable, accessible and environmentally sustainable - and that is what Amtrak and high-speed rail can offer," said House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar, D-Minn. "One full passenger train can take 250 to 350 cars off the road."

...Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, proposed eliminating the Sunset Limited altogether - which now connects Los Angeles to New Orleans - because of its high costs but the amendment was soundly defeated with 150 in favor and 275 against.

Pete Sessions votes "no" to American-made goods!

This is pretty astounding--yesterday, the House passed one of those "Sense of the House" resolutions saying "...that rebate checks would better stimulate the economy if spent on American-made products and services from American-owned companies." Every now and then, Congress passes one of these "no-brainer" non-binding resolutions, so everybody can come together and feel good about passing something that everybody likes--in this case, American-made goods and services.

Who would vote against American-made goods and services?

Pete Sessions, of course, who was one of only six--count 'em, six--to vote no! Others who didn't want to take part voted "present" or just didn't vote at all, but Pete Sessions came out and cast his vote against made-in-America products. Good grief--even Joe "Smokey Joe" Barton voted "yes."

The resolution passed 404 - 6, with 6 voting "present" and 17 not voting. Roll Call information is available at this link: Roll No. 404

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Pete Sessions says "no" to Green Schools

Today, the House passed the 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities Act, which provides "outreach and technical assistance to States and school districts concerning the best practices in school modernization, renovation, repair, and construction, including those related to student academic achievement and student and staff health, energy efficiency, and environmental protection." The bill passed 250 yeas to 164 nays, with 27 Republicans voting with the majority, and the rest--including Pete Sessions--voting no. Roll Call information at this link: Roll Call 379