WASHINGTON — Congress waited until the last moment, but the moratorium preventing the taxing of Internet access will continue for seven more years after a unanimous vote last week in the House.
The current ban was scheduled to expire Nov. 1.
After the Senate approved the extension by voice vote on Oct. 25, the House passed it by a 402-0 vote on Tuesday.
President Bush signed the extension into law the next day.
Reps. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.; and Dean Heller and Jon Porter, both R-Nev., voted to extend the moratorium.
AID TO JOBLESS APPROVED
Workers who have lost their jobs because of foreign competition would receive more federal aid under a bill the House passed by a 264-157 vote.
The bill would reauthorize the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which offers unemployed workers retraining and health insurance subsidies.
Advocates of the bill said Congress is obligated to help U.S. workers who have lost their jobs because of trade globalization.
Bush and other opponents said expanding the assistance program would result in much higher costs and that the benefits could go to illegal immigrants.
Berkley voted to expand the assistance program. Heller and Porter voted against it.
MINING LAW CHANGED
The House voted 244-166 to require new hardrock mines on federal land to pay an 8 percent royalty on gross proceeds. Existing mines would pay a 4 percent royalty.
The bill also would give the Interior secretary veto power over mines that would cause “undue degradation” of federal land.
Supporters of the bill said reform of the 1872 Mining Law was long overdue and the royalties would pay for the much-needed cleanup of abandoned mines.
Critics said the royalties are an excessive tax that would devastate the hardrock mining industry and drive more jobs overseas.
Berkley, Heller and Porter voted against the mining reform bill.
CHILDREN’S INSURANCE PASSES
Setting up another showdown with Bush, the Senate voted 64-30 to approve a measure to provide health insurance to children.
Bush already has vetoed an earlier version of the bill and has vowed to veto this bill as well.
The bill would increase the State Children’s Health Insurance Program by $35 billion over the next five years.
Sponsors of the bill said poor children would have no insurance without the program, which is set to expire Nov.16.
Opponents argued the funding increase would cover children who are not poor, and also, illegal immigrants.
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., voted for the bill. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., voted against it.
AMTRAK FUNDING PROVIDED
The Senate voted 70-22 to give $11.4 billion to Amtrak over the next six years. The legislation releases Amtrak from its pledge to end its reliance on government subsidies.
Advocates of the bill said it is unrealistic to expect Amtrak to survive without federal money.
Critics noted Amtrak has never turned a profit even though it has received more than $40 billion in federal funding since it was created in 1971.
Reid voted to continue funding Amtrak. Ensign voted against it.