This web site was copied prior to December 11, 2006. It is now a Federal record managed by the National Archives and Records Administration. External links, forms, and search boxes may not function within this collection. Learn more.   [hide]

The Congressional Connector

Week of March 6 - 10, 2006

Free Press Corrects the Record: Rep. Levin Voted Against Renewing Patriot Act
On March 9, President Bush signed legislation [H.R. 3199] to renew the Patriot Act, just hours before 16 of the Act’s most controversial provisions were set to expire. One day earlier, an article in the Detroit Free Press incorrectly reported that Rep. Levin had voted in favor of the legislation to renew the Patriot Act. In fact, Rep. Levin was an outspoken opponent of the Patriot Act legislation and voted against the measure when the House of Representatives considered it on December 14. To read Rep. Levin’s Floor remarks in opposition to the Patriot Act renewal bill, click here. The House approved the Patriot Act renewal bill on a vote of 251 to 251, and the Senate approved the measure on March 2 on a vote of 89 to 10. The Free Press ran a correction on March 9 that read: "A news brief Wednesday on Page 4A about a vote in the House of Representatives to renew the Patriot Act should have said U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., voted against renewal." The Free Press and several other Michigan newspapers had based their stories on incorrect information supplied by the Associated Press. The AP mixed up the House vote on the Patriot Act renewal legislation last December with a March 7 vote on a completely different bill [S. 2271] to make three minor civil liberties improvements to the Patriot Act. The House approved S. 2271, with Rep. Levin’s support, on a vote of 280 to 138.

House Votes to Toss Out State and Local Food Safety Warnings
On March 8, the House of Representatives voted to override scores of state and local laws that warn consumers about possible health risks associated with certain foods. The legislation [H.R. 4167, the "National Uniformity for Food Act"] was adopted by the House on a vote of 283 to 139. Rep. Levin voted against the bill. Consumer groups strongly opposed the measure, claiming that states would no longer have the authority to provide important protections for the public, such as shellfish and milk safety standards – unless the federal government grants a state waiver. Some of the state warnings that would be affected by this legislation include consumer warnings about mercury contamination of fish, arsenic in bottled water, lead in ceramic tableware, and the alcohol content in candies. Michigan’s law requiring allergy warnings on bulk foods made with sulfites could also be preempted. H.R. 4167 was supported by the food and grocery industries. During the debate, a number of House members pointed out that it was highly unusual for such sweeping legislation to reach the House Floor without the benefit of even a single public hearing.

House Approves Upgrade to U.S./Ukraine Trade
On March 8, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved legislation [H.R. 1053] granting Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) to Ukraine. Rep. Levin spoke on the House floor in support of the measure: "Passage of Ukraine PNTR is a way for us to update our trading relationship by signaling our support for the progress Ukraine has made to date. Although challenges lie ahead, this legislation points out the importance of Ukraine’s commitment to economic reforms and the evolution of democracy." Michigan’s Ukrainian community also hailed the legislation. "Passage of H.R. 1053 is further testimony to normalizing US/Ukraine trade relations and to Ukraine's joining the WTO," said Borys Potapenko, Director of the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Warren. "The Ukrainian American community in Michigan and beyond deeply appreciates the leadership of the Congressional Ukrainian Caucus, co-chaired by Congressman Levin, on this and other issues that bring the American and Ukrainian nation’s closer together." The Senate approved similar legislation last November.

Levin Reiterates His Support for Comprehensive Lobbying Reform
Rep. Levin today reiterated his support for comprehensive lobbying reform by supporting a 14-point package [H.R. 4682] to reform the operations of the House of Representatives. The package is designed to weaken lobbyist influence, strengthen fiscal discipline, curb abuses of power, outlaw the use of earmarks to buy votes for questionable legislation, create more time for serious congressional oversight, and prevent last-minute legislative items from being slipped into conference reports between the House and Senate without a full public vote by the conference committee. On the subject of Member’s private travel, Rep. Levin’s travel has never been with lobbyists or paid for by the special interests they represent. Rep. Levin’s travel has been with the non-profit Aspen Institute – funded by public minded foundations without lobbyists or staff – to foster bipartisan discussion between Members and policy scholars from around the world. For more information on the Aspen Institute, click here:

Home Page   |  Connector Home