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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

NM Congressional Delegation Votes in Tandem for Credit Card Reform; Split on Loaded Guns in National Parks

Yesterday the US Senate passed an amended version of H.R.627, the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights Act of 2009. The 90-5 vote followed a 357-to-70 vote in the House on April 30. Today, the US House approved the Senate version of the bill by a vote of 361-64, and the legislation will go next to President Obama, who has said he will sign it.

Senators Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman, as well as Congressmen Martin Heinrich, Ben Ray Luján and Harry Teague, all voted in favor of the main bill. There was also a separate vote in the House today on an amendment included as Section 512 in the Senate-passed version to allow loaded guns in national parks. On that provision, Rep. Luján voted no while Reps. Heinrich and Teague voted yes. The House passed Section 512 by a vote of 279-147. Only two Republicans voted against the gun measure. On the Dem side of the aisle, 105 voted for it and 145 voted no.

Section 512, allowing loaded guns in national parks and federal wildlife refuges, originally got into the bill when Sen. Tom Coburn's amendment passed in the Senate with 67 senators -- including 27 Democrats -- voting for it. Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall both voted against the gun amendment. Democratic leaders then said there wasn't enough time to send the bill to a House-Senate conference committee — where it could possibly have been removed without a vote — and still get it to the President by Memorial Day as Obama requested. It therefore went to the House intact, where leaders decided to hold separate votes on the bill and Section 512.

The question is, will we now feel "safer" in the national parks, or will the national parks be more vulnerable to gun violence and/or poaching? I guess time will tell. One thing that is clear is that the National Rifle Association has a lot of clout on both sides of the aisle.

Members of New Mexico's Congressional delegation released statements praising the credit care reform bill's passage.

Rep. Ben Ray Luján said, “I’m glad that this important piece of legislation will now head to the President’s desk for his signature. As I have traveled the district, I have talked to families who have worked hard and followed the rules only to be taken advantage of by unfair and predatory credit card practices. At a time when it is difficult for many New Mexicans to make ends meet, this is unacceptable. The Credit Cardholders’ Bill of Rights is an important step toward ending these practices by credit card companies. This bill takes common sense steps to protect families from unfair credit practices--safeguarding families from retroactive charges, excessive fees, arbitrary rate increases and misleading terms.”

“Families across southern New Mexico are struggling to make ends meet and their situation is being made worse by deceptive and unfair practices,” said Congressman Harry Teague. “This bill will protect credit card holders from things like: retroactive charges, excessive fees, arbitrary rate increases and misleading terms—those are assurances every consumer deserves.”

“The Credit Cardholder's Bill of Rights Act strengthens the marketplace for consumers and restores a fundamental sense of fairness and honesty to the system, said Rep. Martin Heinrich. New Mexicans have the responsibility to live within their means and pay what they owe, but the government has the responsibility to make sure our credit card industry is playing by the rules. This legislation will improve transparency and accountability in the marketplace, and give consumers confidence in the contracts they enter into with their financial institutions.”

“This legislation is an important step towards protecting the millions of American children whose futures are compromised when their parents become victims of dishonest or unfair credit card company practices,” said Senator Tom Udall. “In 2004, families with minor children were more than three times as likely to file for bankruptcy as their childless friends. More children lived through their parent’s bankruptcy than their parent’s divorce, and these children risk losing a stable home and a shot at college. Today’s vote shows that the Senate can work in a bipartisan manner to protect American families.”

A story in the CS Monitor provides a summary of what the bill does and doesn't do regarding credit card rules.

President Obama was in Rio Rancho, New Mexico on May 14th touting credit card reform. See my previous post (with photos). More photos of the event taken by Mary Ellen can be found on our Flickr account.

May 20, 2009 at 04:10 PM in Corporatism, Economy, Populism, Guns, NM Congressional Delegation, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Rep. Harry Teague (NM-02), Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01), Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink

Comments

I'm very pleased this bill passed by such large margins. But it's a shame the GOP had to add in an amendment to permit loaded guns in the natl parks. Even worse so many Democrats supported that. What are these people afraid of in the parks? I will be afraid of the kind of nuts who feel the need to carry a loaded weapon in Yellowstone etc. The NRA gives big bucks to lawmakers who obey and go after those who don't. Money talks.

Posted by: Too Many Guns Already | May 20, 2009 5:42:49 PM

I am so disappointed that Martin Heinrich voted for the gun amendment. There was no need to do this. There is no danger and no recreational use allowed either.

I wish there would be some explanation from his office.

Posted by: Johnny_Mango | May 20, 2009 9:25:54 PM

Loaded guns in the National Parks, very disappointing. Overall the C-C Bill weakly addresses some troubling issues which makes it hard for me to think Congress is sincere about helping protect C-Card users. Especially when Usury (outrageous interest rates) gets pushed aside, all the more reason why term limits are needed.

Posted by: VP | May 21, 2009 7:44:26 AM

Heinrich is a member of the NRA and voted according to the NRA's wishes. I am not a supporter of gun control generally but in this case the NRA is wrong and so are all the lawmakers who voted for the amendment. Our national parks and wildlife refuges are very different than other places by design. Loaded guns have no place in them. I suppose the next step is to allow students and teachers to carry loaded guns in schools. In both cases expect more gun violence and fear. Americans have gone off the deep end about guns and "protecting" themselves.

Posted by: M. Forsythe | May 21, 2009 8:32:14 AM

Looking on the bright side of this, women can hike the trails with their gun. A woman packing a loaded weapon in the mountains sounds like a good idea to me. Now, the stalkers will more likely leave a good woman to enjoy nature and get her work-out.

Posted by: qofdisks | May 21, 2009 11:15:52 PM

I don't agree. It's one thing to carry a loaded gun in a national forest, which people can do now, but our national parks are something special. There is no hunting there and they are controlled environments already with fees to pay at gateways and rangers in many areas. There is nothing scary about being in a national park like Yellowstone or the Grand Tetons unless you are afraid of nature. If that's the case go to Disneyland!

Posted by: roadrunner | May 22, 2009 8:38:51 AM