Thursday, January 29, 2009

House passes American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

On a nearly straight party-line vote, the House passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, with all Repubicans and 11 Democrats voting against. See HR 1, Roll No. 46.

Republicans in TX-32 will be pleased that Pete Sessions has suddenly discovered fiscal responsibility, having voted in October to bail out Wall Street, but they wonder if he's listening to constituents this time, or if it's just more partisan politics.

Democrats have launched an ad campaign targeting Sessions and other Republicans who voted for the Wall Street bailout, but can't vote for the new stimulus bill:
Economic Recovery – Bank Bailout Ad

The following ad is the districts of Representatives Eric Cantor (VA-07), Pete Sessions (TX-32), Henry Brown (SC-01), Ken Calvert (CA-44), Dan Lungren (CA-03), and Lee Terry (NE-02):

Did you know Congressman Eric Cantor voted to bail out big banks, but opposed tax breaks for 95 percent of American workers? Times are tough, tell Member to put families first.
Now, the bill is on its way to the Senate for further debate. Stay tuned...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Senate Passes Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Good news for Sessions Watchers who were moved by the story of Lilly Ledbetter, the Goodyear worker who faced salary-based gender discrimination, and didn't discover it until after she'd been working there for years.

Yesterday, the Senate passed S. 181 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 on a near-party-line vote, with some note-worthy Republicans crossing party lines to vote with the majority--Arlen Specter (R-PA) and all the women Republican Senators: Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and our own Kay Bailey Hutchison!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pete Sessions votes against SCHIP

In September of 2007, Pete Sessions voted against SCHIP; yesterday, he did so again, voting against the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 along with 138 other Republicans. The bill passed 289-139, with 40 Republicans crossing over to vote with Democrats on the measure, and 2 Democrats voting against. Five Democrats and one Republican cast no vote.

For information on the bill, See HR 2; roll number information available at this link: Roll No. 16.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Pete Sessions names Greg Walden as Deputy Chair of NRCC

From Oregon Public Broadcasting:
When NRCC chair Pete Sessions wanted someone to manage the party's regional strategy for 2010, he called on his long-time friend Greg Walden...

...So what about all those rumors that Walden might run for Governor in 2010?

Here's what Walden's spokesman Andrew Whelan says.

Andrew Whelan: "Chairman Sessions is a good friend, and asked Greg if he would be interested in helping him tackle this new responsibility. But as for running for Governor, there's a time and place for that conversation, and we're not there yet."
Like Pete Sessions, Walden is one of these inconsistent bailout voters; Greg Walden voted for the original taxpayer-funded federal bailout, then voted against the auto industry bailout. Now, Greg Walden wants an investigation of AIG's taxpayer-funded spa retreat:
These are exactly the kinds of abuses that drive me up a wall and are infuriating to taxpayers across the country. The Treasury Department needs to get to the bottom of this quickly to find out if taxpayers were taken for a ride. After accepting $85 billion in taxpayer money to keep their company afloat, the AIG executive brain trust was so fatigued they took a luxurious spa vacation on the company dime. With judgment like that, no wonder they needed taxpayers to bail them out. If public funds were used to bankroll this preposterous getaway, taxpayers must be repaid every cent.
Like Sessions, Walden can't complain that voters didn't try to warn him:
A majority of Portland-area residents oppose a government bailout to resolve the financial crisis, and an even larger number say they are “angry and resentful” about Wall Street, according to a new Portland Tribune/Fox 12 News poll.

Forty-one percent of Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas county residents agreed that a bailout or rescue “is necessary to keep the economy from going into what could be a very serious downtown.” But 52 percent agreed that “people on Wall Street got us into this mess, and they should figure out how to get us out without sticking it to the taxpayers...”

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Pete Sessions votes against Lilly Ledbetter--again

For a second time, Pete Sessions voted against Lilly Ledbetter, this time casting a vote against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. This act is in response to the Supreme Court Decision saying that Lilly Ledbetter should have sued her employer for gender-based pay discrimination within 180 days. Essentially, the Supreme Court threw this one back to Congress to change the 180-day rule, which it did with this new Act. In this new bill, each paycheck can be used as evidence of pay discrimination. The bill passed on a straight party-line vote, 247-171, with 15 not voting.

For more information, see Congress.Org; roll call information is at this link: H.R. 11, Roll Number 9.

In a related bill, the House passed HR 12, which allows victims of pay discrimination to sue for damages, prevents companies from punishing employees who share pay information, and puts the burden of proof on companies to show that any pay inequity is due to job performance. This bill passed 256-163, with a few crossover votes from Republicans, and Pete Sessions among the "no" voters. An equal number of Republicans and Democrats did not cast a vote. The bill will be added to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. For more information, see H.R. 12, Roll Number 8.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Year, New Plans for TX-32

Over the holidays, Sessions Watchers couldn't help but discuss the future of our congressional district at various Christmas and New Years' gatherings! Even as we celebrated the holidays, the conversation would turn political. Here's a wrap-up of the season's party talk:

Redistricting: After the 2010 census, Texas is due to gain 3-4 House seats; at a New Year's Day party, State Representative Roberto Alonzo said that two of those seats might be in North Texas. When asked about the future of TX-32, Representative Alonzo said that the lines would most likely be redrawn, and that there would be an effort to make all district lines more compact, less gerrymandered all over the place to create "safe seats." A couple of people proposed the idea of citizen input, giving neighborhood leaders a chance to propose district lines which kept areas with similar interests together. This comment touched off a lively discussion of Pete Sessions' infamous "lost in Oak Cliff" incident, concluding with the wish that any future Congressman should actually be familiar with every part of the Congressional district. Representative Alonzo listened, but remained non-committal to proposed ideas.

(Yesterday, there was a hopeful sign of bi-partisan sensiblity in the Texas House of Representatives as Joe Straus was elected House Speaker, defeating the rabidly right-wing Tom Craddick. With Straus as Speaker, we're unlikely to see any more of the Tom-DeLay-style power grabbing that created this hopelessly gerrymandered 32nd congressional district. Keep your fingers crossed that we've seen the last of that particular brand of right-wing-nuttery).

Republicans: Somewhere around New Year's Eve, a Sessions Watcher identified a prominent North Texas Republican who is interested in running in the existing 32nd District, but who will not run unless Pete Sessions retires, especially now that Sessions is NRCC Chair. The discussion turned to the upcoming census, and the probability of lines being redrawn, which would create opportunities for new candidtates to run for Congress.

Democrats: Although Democrats admit that the current gerrymandered district is pretty much of a lost cause, they will definitely challenge the seat again in 2010. Democrats consider Pete Sessions' new position a NRCC Chair as having made him a target, and hope that the DCCC is thinking along the same lines and will send money their way in 2010.