Updated: September 21, 2012 6:50PM
Congress is in recess until the week of Nov. 12.
WELFARE-TO-WORK RULES: The House on Sept. 20 voted, 250 for and 164 against, to block a new Department of Health and Human Services policy that critics say would weaken work requirements in the 1996 welfare-reform law. The GOP measure (HJ Res 118) would block a plan under which states could experiment with new strategies for moving recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) from dependency to work. For example, certain states could receive waivers allowing them to rely more on skills training for the long haul and less on immediate placement in short-term jobs in meeting the law’s work requirements. States receiving such waivers would be required to eventually shift an additional 20 percent of their welfare recipients to work. A yes vote was to pass the bill.
Judy Biggert: Yes
Randy Hultgren: Yes
PUBLIC FUNDING OF POLITICAL CONVENTIONS: Voting 310 for and 95 against, the House on Sept. 19 repealed legal authority under which taxpayers can voluntarily fund presidential nominating conventions by checking a box on their income-tax return that diverts $3 from the Treasury to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund. The bill (HR 5912) is now before the Senate. The Republican and Democratic conventions this year received $18 million each from the fund, with private donors covering the remainder of their budgets. A yes vote was to pass the bill.
VISAS FOR HIGHLY EDUCATED IMMIGRANTS: Voting 257 for and 158 against, the House on Sept. 20 failed to reach a two-thirds majority needed to pass a Republican bill (HR 6429) setting aside 55,000 permanent visas per year for foreigners who have received advanced U.S. degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Democrats disputed the bill because instead of creating new visas, it would obtain the 55,000 green cards by killing a program that provides visas by lottery to immigrants from countries with low rates of emigration to the U.S. A yes vote was to pass the bill.
VETERANS JOB CORPS: Voting 58 for and 40 against, the Senate on Sept. 18 failed to reach 60 votes for advancing a veterans job bill (S 3457) over Republican objections that it violates spending limits in the Budget Control Act. The proposed Veterans Job Corps is designed to help those who served on active duty on or after Sept. 11, 2001, at a deficit-neutral cost of $1 billion over five years. One major section promotes hiring priority for veterans in police, firefighting and other first-responder jobs on all levels of government. Another would establish jobs for veterans on public lands in areas such as conservation, historic preservation, forest restoration and cemetery maintenance. A yes vote was to advance the bill.
Richard Durbin: Yes
Mark Kirk: Not voting