Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pete Sessions votes "no" to increased physician payments

The House passed H.R. 3961, to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to reform the Medicare SGR payment system for physicians, by a recorded vote of 243 ayes to 183 noes, Roll No. 909.
This bill repeals a 21.2% fee reduction scheduled for Jan. 1, 2010 and "sets a new spending growth rate target for physician services that would be equal to the gross domestic product plus 1%."

Pete Sessions voted against the bill, as did all but one Republican. Which Republican voted for it? Michael Burgess--who's a doctor.

Read all about the bill at GovTrack: H.R. 3961: Medicare Physician Payment Reform Act of 2009. Roll Call information at Thomas: Roll No. 909

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Another NY-23 brewing in Connecticut?

CONNECTICUT: "In a move that would shake up two political races, the state Republican chairman is publicly asking state Sen. Sam Caligiuri to run against Democratic incumbent Rep. Christopher Murphy in the 5th Congressional district." Caligiuri is currently running for Sen. Chris Dodd's seat, but "has been lagging far behind in the money-raising race against the top-tier, big-money Republican candidates" including Linda McMahon, former ambassador to Ireland Tom Foley, and Fairfield County investor Peter Schiff.

Former aide to Rep. Rob Simmons and Afghanistan vet Justin Bernier, currently campaigning for Murphy's House seat, issued a statement contesting Healy's involvement in the race: "The situation in New York's 23rd congressional district showed us what happens when party insiders play favorites,'' Bernier said in a statement. "I am confident that the Republicans in the Fifth District of Connecticut will make the right decision in this nomination process." Bernier has already received the support of the National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Pete Sessions.
No one on the Sessions Watch team has an opinion on this race, but we found it interesting that, once again, Pete Sessions seems at odds with a state's Republican party chairman.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pete Sessions hold $1,000/plate fundraiser for Ed Martin

From St. Louis Today: GOP House campaign honcho hosts $1,000 dinner for Ed Martin
CLAYTON — Texas Congressman Pete Sessions, head of the committee charged with electing Republicans to the U.S. House, is in town tonight, hosting a high-dollar fundraising dinner for Capitol Hill hopeful Ed Martin.

Sessions, head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, will headline the event tonight at Luciano’s Trattoria in downtown Clayton.

The price is $1,000 a plate, or $5,000 to also attend a VIP reception, which will be hosted in a private residence in the nearby Plaza in Clayton, a luxury condo tower.

Current congressman Roy Blunt, Todd Akin and Blaine Luetkemeyer are expected to attend.

Martin, former chairman of the St. Louis Elections Board, is attempting to unseat Democrat Russ Carnahan in a district that is considered reliably Democratic. (Just ask the previous inhabitant, Dick Gephardt.)

Whether Sessions’ personal visit is a sign that Martin’s stock as a challenger is rising or just a courtesy he extends to many candidates is tough to say.
No further comment from the Sessions Watch team, just cataloging this endorsement for future reference.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

NRCC fundraising down under Sessions' leadership

From Politico:
If Republicans hope to make a play for dozens of Democratic-held House seats, they’ll need a well-stocked campaign account to fund all their candidates. But right now, after spending money in two contentious off-year special elections, the National Republican Congressional Committee has a long way to go to raise enough money to compete across the national map.

The National Republican Congressional Committee ended September with just $4.3 million in the bank, less than one-third of the $14.7 million banked by its Democratic counterpart. So far this cycle, NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions hasn’t improved the fundraising fortunes of the committee — he’s raised $10 million less than his predecessor, Rep. Tom Cole, did at this same point in the past election cycle.

And the committee took an additional financial hit in the New York 23rd District special election, spending nearly $1 million on a race in which the GOP nominee, Dede Scozzafava, ended up quitting and then endorsing the Democratic candidate. Worse, the NRCC’s decision to support Scozzafava’s campaign has played a role in alienating conservative donors.
In related news, Florida Republican State Senator Eric Eisnaugle has decided not to run against Alan Grayson for his seat in Congress (FL-8). The other Republican contender in that race is Armando Gutierrez, who is causing the GOP to be "concerned":
But GOP operatives in Washington and the district say he is running a destructive primary campaign, and national and local leaders are doing just about anything they can to avoid having him as their nominee.

“He’s offending a lot of people,” said attorney Will McBride, who opted out of the race last week. “He’s rubbing people the wrong way. He needs to be a little more professional in his approach to reaching out to local leaders in our party.”

Numerous others confirmed the widespread bristling at Gutierrez’s early maneuvers.

“He’s pissing people off a lot,” said a leading local GOP operative...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pete Sessions votes against chemical facility security, credit card accountability

Aside from the health care debate, Democrats and Republicans were fairly agreeable on a number of things last week, like credit card reform and the need for chemical facility security.

On Wednesday, November 4, the House once again showed overwhelming bipartisanship in passing H.R. 3639, the Expedited CARD Reform for Consumers Act of 2009, "To amend the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 to establish an earlier effective date for various consumer protections, and for other purposes." The vote tally was 331 yeas and 92 noes, with 11 not voting. Pete Sessions voted no. See Roll no. 851.

On Friday, November 6, the House passed H.R. 2868, again with a show of bipartisan support for the Chemical and Water Security Act of 2009. The bill is designed "To amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to enhance security and protect against acts of terrorism against chemical facilities, to amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to enhance the security of public water systems, and to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to enhance the security of wastewater treatment works, and for other purposes." The bill passed 230-193, with 11 not voting. Pete Sessions voted no (See roll no. 875).

Pete Sessions cast no vote in Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act

On Thursday, November 5, the House, in an overwhelming show of bipartisan unity, passed H.R. 3548, the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act. This bill provides "provides for the temporary availability of certain additional emergency unemployment compensation." The bill passed with a 2/3 majority (403 yeas and 12 nays, with 18--including Pete Sessions--casting no vote). See Roll no. 859.

The bill passed in the Senate 98-0, with 2 not voting; both Senators Cornyn and Hutchison voted yea.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sessions Watch Endorses Somebody Else in 2010!

Sessions Watch is a non-partisan blog dedicated to highlighting the gaffes, corruption, and evasiveness of our congressman, Pete Sessions.

While we don't make partisan endorsements, we can say this much--we endorse Somebody Else in 2010! (In the interest of fairness, the order of the following essays was determined by coin toss, and does not indicate partisan preference on the part of the writer):

Republicans: Finally, you have a candidate running against Pete Sessions in the March 2 GOP Primary. His name is David Smith, who writes for the Dallas County Republican Examiner. Although portrayed by the media as a "farther to the right than Sessions" right-wing extremist Tea Party Supporter, Sessions Watchers on both sides of the aisle have dismissed that as media hype. In reading his articles, we've formed the opinion that David Smith is an an honest fiscal conservative who thinks Congress should work for the people instead of lobbyists. His article have consistently criticized Pete Sessions questionable ethics, with particular emphases on the blimp earmark. Sessions Watch encourages Republican Precinct Chairs to meet David Smith tonight at his announcement party and to consider helping out with his campaign. Information at this link: Announcement of candidacy for US House District 32 and campaign kick-off event

Democrats: Liberal Democrats who've given half-hearted support to past candidates they felt were too "middle of the road" are fired up in support of Grier Raggio. If his name sounds familiar, it's because he's the husband of Judge Lorraine Raggio, and the son of women's rights pioneer Louise Raggio (also known as The Texas Tornado). Grier is a lawyer, and although this will be his first foray into politics, he's given generously to the Democratic Party over the years and is already going where Pete Sessions fears to tread--into the District to meet potential constituents, conducting his own "listening tour." Sessions Watchers on both sides of the aisle are confident that Grier Raggio would put the needs of the District ahead of party politics and that he would shun influence-peddling from lobbyists. Democrats are invited to read more about Grier Raggio at his campaign website Raggio for Congress and to make a donation at Grier Raggio's Act Blue Page.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Health Care Bill Passes, thanks to NY-23, CA-10 pick-ups

Tuesday's Democratic Party pick up of NY-23 and CA-10, along with a lone Republican Party vote from Joseph Cao (LA-2) helped pass H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act; the bill passed 220-215, with 218 needed to pass (See Roll No. 887).

The two newly elected Congressmen, Bill Owens (NY-23) and John Garamendi (CA-10) voted with the slim majority in support of health care reform. Democrats opposed to the plan ranged from single payer advocates like Dennis Kucinich and Eric Massa to camp, who voted against the bill because what they really wanted was single payer, to the "blue dog" Democrats who were expected to vote with Republicans. Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats campaigned for an anti-abortion amendment to the bill, saying that federal funds cannot be used to fund abortions; the amendment passed 240-194, but even with their amendment passed, those members of Congress still voted "no" to the final bill. (The amendment duplicates one already in place, The Hyde Amendment, which also prohibits federal funding for abortion; because of that duplication, the amendment is expected to be stripped in committee when the House bill is merged with the Senate bill).

Pete Sessions distinguished himself in the debate by defending the insurance industry practice of charging women more for health insurance comparing women to smokers, then joining Republicans in staging an "I Object" shout down of the Democratic Women's Caucus as members took turns at the podium explaining how women benefit from health care reform. (One of our Sessions Watchers who served as an International Observer in Northern Ireland compared the outburst to Rev. Ian Paisley's "No, no, no" shout down of George Mitchell during the Good Friday Agreement.)

Republicans on the Sessions Watch team give a sarcastic "thanks a lot" to Pete Sessions and the protesters for making our party look like a childish gang of misogynists; Democrats on the team give Pete Sessions a sincere thanks, once again, for delivering two more congressional seats to the Democrats and pushing the votes for health care reform over the 218 mark.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Pete Sessions compares being female to being a smoker

Despite repeated campaign promises to always be in the District on weekends, Pete Sessions is working overtime today to kill health care reform.

His latest outburst on the House floor drew "a burst of chatter" in the room, kind of like it does in bi-partisan settings here at home when Sessions gets stuck for an answer and says the first thing that comes to mind, usually a tangent about "socialism" or "Nancy Pelosi."

In his latest gaffe, Pete Sessions defended the insurance industry's practice of charging higher rates to women; the proposed health care bill would make it illegal for insurers to charge different rates based solely on gender. From Courthouse News Service:
In promoting the House health bill, New Jersey Democrat Frank Pallone made reference to discrimination by insurance companies, citing their reluctance to insure people with preexisting conditions and differences in costs based on gender. "But that's not against the law," Texas Republican Pete Sessions said.

Pallone replied, "No, but we would make it against the law. Why do you have a problem with that?" he asked. "Why should a woman pay more than a man?"

"Well, we're all different," Sessions explained. "Why should a smoker pay more," he said before getting interrupted by a burst of chatter throughout the room.
So, in Pete's mind, being a woman is just like being a smoker--being female just a destructive habit some people pick up that the rest of us shouldn't pay for.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pete Sessions will have GOP Primary Challenger!

From Dallas County Republican Examiner:
Today I am proud to announce my candidacy for the 32nd Congressional District from the Great State of Texas and I want you to be the first to know. My decision to run has not been made lightly, and I can no longer continue to witness the reckless behavior of our government. I respect your hard work as the backbone of the local Republican Party and look forward to meeting you, working with you and hearing your views on the pressing issues facing our nation and Texas' 32nd District.

I grew up in Farmers Branch and graduated from R.L. Turner High School. I went on to earn degrees in music education and finance (MBA) from the University of North Texas and am now a Corporate Finance and Accounting Analyst. I have always voted Republican, even in my youth, and participated in the Denton County Republican Party before returning to Dallas County after the last election cycle. My concentration the last two years has involved lobbying for reform in the Texas transportation system. This experience has included speaking from the steps of the Texas Capitol at a march / rally last spring and testifying before the Sunset Commission of the Texas Legislature last summer, and contributed to the death of the Trans Texas Corridor earlier this year. I was also honored to speak on several resolutions at the 2008 Denton County Republican Convention.

I am a conservative Republican that endorses the State Platform, and as a corporate accounting professional, I am also a strong fiscal conservative. And sadly I recognize that record budget deficits under Republican leadership led to the exponentially greater debt spending that we see today. I know that our government is broke, in more ways than one, and pledge to do the job our current leadership is failing to perform.

My campaign will focus on issues affecting Texas' 32nd District and our government: Accountability, Fiscal Responsibility and the Economy. In coming days you will learn more about my campaign as I move forward to Victory in 2010! I hope to earn your support and your vote, and am looking forward to meeting each of you soon...
Thanks for stepping up to the plate, David, and good luck to you--you'll need it. Pete Sessions is a dirty fighter, he'll refuse to debate you, he'll pay kids to pull up your political signs (and might even get caught doing it himself), and he'll send out lurid glossy fliers accusing you of stuff you never did. Stay calm, stay cool, stay positive, and let him dish it out and look like the bad guy.

The Sessions Watch team encourages Republican precinct chairs to attend David Smith's announcement party and fundraiser; details at The Examiner, at this link: Announcement of candidacy for US House District 32 and campaign kick-off event.

Pete Sessions delivers NY-23--to Democrats!

The Democrats on the Sessions Watch team would like to thank NRCC Chair Pete Sessions for giving another Congressional seat to the Dems--NY-23, which has been a Republican district since the 1890s. Thanks, Pete, for delivering a district that's eluded Democrats for 100 years. We literally couldn't have done it without you.

The Republicans on the Sessions Watch team would like to remind the NRCC that this blog did try to warn you that Pete Sessions backs candidates with an uncanny ability to raise money for the other side.

And the team as a whole gives our bipartisan thanks to the NRCC once again for raising Pete Sessions' profile. Now, the whole country is watching him, which makes our job easier.

For those who haven't been following this race, here's a brief summary:
  • NY-23 became vacant when President Obama picked Republican Congressman John M. McHugh to be Secretary of the Army.
  • The local Republican Party chose Dede Scozzafava as their candidate, and Doug Hoffman won the backing of the Conservative Party of New York. Democrats chose Bill Owens.
  • The tally so far (with 93% precincts reported): Bill Owens is declared the winner, with 49% of the vote; Doug Hoffman came in second at 45%, and the GOP candidate came in last with 6% of the vote.
And what does Pete Sessions have to say about the election result? True to form, he refuses to take any responsibility himself, and blames someone else--in this case, the Republican Party of New York state:
On the heels of the GOP’s second special election loss in New York this year, Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Wednesday morning that Empire State Republicans need to adopt a more open candidate selection process.

“After two special elections in New York, there is no doubt in my mind that the candidate selection process lacks openness and transparency and should be changed to a primary system so voters can have a say in who their respective parties nominate,” he said in a statement...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pete Sessions votes yes to small business loans

In July, Pete Sessions was one of the few who voted against small businesses, joining only 40 other house members in opposing H.R. 2965 (see Pete Sessions votes against small business research and innovation).

But last Thursday, Pete Sessions joined the overwhelmingly bipartisan majority in voting for H.R. 3854, the Small Business Financing and Investment Act of 2009, which will improve lending and access to credit for small businesses.

Only 32 voted against (see Roll no. 830). Among the no-voters were 8 Texas Republicans, including Michael Burgess, Jeb Hensarling, Kay Granger, and Ron Paul.

So those of you who hounded Pete Sessions to vote for this bill owe him a thank you note for once!