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Senate Votes 2000

+ for the public interest / - against the public interest
A absent / NA not applicable

1. Environmental Defense/Stop Anti-Forest, Anti-Wildlife Amendment: In 1999, environmental groups brought two lawsuits to ensure that the U.S. Forest Service adequately protects wildlife when making decisions about logging, roadbuilding and mining in our National Forests. These court cases resulted in the suspension of dozens of timber sales in the Southeast and Northwest. In response, Senators Larry Craig (R-ID) and Slade Gorton (R-WA) attached a rider to the fiscal year 2000 Interior Appropriations bill that would have given the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management broad authority to violate their own regulations and land management plans, and allow logging, roadbuilding and mining in our National Forests without considering wildlife impacts. Senators Robb (D-VA) and Cleland (D-GA) offered an amendment to the bill to eliminate this rider. On September 9, 1999, the Senate defeated the Robb/Cleland amendment, 45-52, but negotiators were ultimately able to strip the rider from the bill. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

2. Environmental Defense/Stop Unlimited Mining Waste Dumping on Public Lands:
The hardrock mining industry is one of the most polluting and most heavily subsidized industries in the country. Under the antiquated 1872 Mining Law, mining companies have been allowed to extract billions of dollars of minerals from public land without paying a dime in royalties and have abandoned more than half a million polluting mine sites, leaving the cleanup tab to taxpayers. Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) attached a rider to the fiscal year 2000 Interior Appropriations bill that would have allowed the mining industry an even greater giveaway — a change to the 1872 Mining Law to allow unlimited access to public lands for use as private mining waste dumps. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Richard Durbin (D-IL) and John Kerry (D-MA) offered an amendment to eliminate the Craig rider. On July 27, 1999, Senators Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Harry Reid (D-NV) offered a motion to prevent any further consideration of the amendment. This motion was adopted, 55 to 41. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

3. Environmental Defense/Stop Dumping Mountaintop Removal Waste:
Mountaintop removal coal mining literally blasts the tops off of mountains in Appalachia in order to reach seams of coal within. The millions of tons of waste that result are dumped into valleys, obliterating streams and leveling landscapes. In October 1999, a West Virginia federal district court found that this practice violates provisions of the Clean Water Act and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA). In response, Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) attempted to attach a twelfth-hour rider to the fiscal year 2000 Omnibus Appropriations bill that would have exempted coal mining companies around the country from these portions of the Clean Water Act and SMCRA. This rider would have wreaked havoc on clean water around the nation and set a terrible precedent for a polluting industry to bypass environmental laws. Ultimately, Senator Byrd attached his rider to a continuing resolution (a measure that extends funding for the federal government at last year’s levels) that was never signed into law. On November 18, 1999, the Senate approved the Byrd rider, 56-33. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

4. Global Warming/Clean Energy/Increase Funding For Renewable Energy:
Fossil fuel use and production are responsible for more than 95 percent of air pollution and most greenhouse gas emissions, while commercial nuclear power plants produce the majority of radioactive waste. Development of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind energy would lower air polution and other environmental impacts associated with energy generation, and reduce our dependence on imported oil. Despite these advantages, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to significantly cut federal funding for renewable energy research and development. During Senate consideration of the Energy and Water appropriations bill, Senator Jim Jeffords (R-VT) was prepared to offer an amendment that would have added $62 million to the Energy Department’s solar and renewable energy programs - an increase that a majority of members had endorsed in a letter to the Appropriations committee chair. Opponents of the Jeffords amendment claimed that it violated Senate budget rules because it did not provide a valid "offset" (compensating spending reduction) for its funding increase. On June 16, 1999, in a procedural vote called by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), the Senate voted 60-39 to block the Jeffords amendment from being considered by the full Senate. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

5. Global Warming/Energy Efficiency/Stop Freeze Of Auto Fuel Efficiency Standards:
A legal loophole allowing lower miles per gallon standards for Sport Utility Vehicles, minivans and light trucks causes an extra 187 million tons of global warming pollution and costs consumers up to $27 billion extra at the gas pump annually. This loophole also causes the U.S. to consume almost a million extra barrels of oil per day. For the past four years, a rider placed on the Transportation Appropriations bill by Rep. Tom Delay (R-TX) and Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) has prohibited the Department of Transportation from even considering updated standards for these vehicles. Senators Gorton (R-WA), Byran (D-NV) and Feinstein (D-CA) offered an amendment to the Senate Transportation Appropriations bill rejecting the Wolf rider. On September 15, 1999, the Senate rejected the amendment 40-55. Although 40 votes in favor of the amendment is sufficient to sustain a veto of the bill, the president ultimately signed the bill and the rider into law. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

6. National Forests/Cut Subsidy for Logging in National Forests:
The U.S. Forest Service subsidizes the destruction of our rapidly dwindling National Forests by selling off our trees to the timber industry at prices that do not even cover the basic costs of the timber sales program. As a result, taxpayers have lost $2 billion over the last six years, and logging has destroyed wildlife habitat, polluted rivers necessary for fish and for drinking water, and caused expensive and deadly mudslides. Senators Bryan (D-NV), Fitzgerald (R-IL), Reid (D-NV) and Durbin (D-IL) offered an amendment to the fiscal year 2000 Interior Appropriations bill to cut $34 million from the timber subsidy and shift $21 million to fish and wildlife habitat protection and road maintenance. On September 14, 1999, Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) offered a motion to prevent any further consideration of the amendment. This motion was adopted, 54 to 43. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

7. Nuclear Waste/Stop Dangerous Nuclear Waste Transport:
S. 1287, The Nuclear Waste Policy Act Amendments of 2000, would needlessly mandate the transportation of highly radioactive waste through 43 states. This bill would put millions of Americans at risk, and undermine EPA radiation standards. On February 10, 2000, the Senate approved S. 1287 by a 64-34 vote. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

8. Polluter Pork/Protect Taxpayers and Stop Underpayment Of Oil Royalties:
Companies that drill for oil on public lands are required to pay royalties, which benefit taxpayers, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and state governments, many of which use the royalties for public education. However, according to the Minerals Management Service (MMS), the largest oil companies have been underpaying these royalties by at least $66 million a year. To address this underpayment, the MMS formulated new rules to create fair, market-based oil payments, but three "riders" on three different spending bills blocked the final passage of these rules. During consideration of the fiscal year 2000 Interior Appropriations bill, Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Pete Domenici (R-NM) offered yet anothe rider to delay the MMS rules. (The MMS rules were finalized on March 15, 2000, but the oil industry is now suing the MMS to prevent the rules from being enforced.) On September 23, 1999, the Senate adopted the Hutchison oil royalty rider, 51-47. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

9. Polluter Pork/Protect Taxpayers and Stop Underpayment Of Oil Royalties (Cloture):
Before the Senate voted on Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison’s (R-TX) oil royalty rider (see vote listed immediately above), Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) attempted to block the rider through a filibuster. In order to cut off such a filibuster, 60 Senators must invoke "cloture," which brings the issue to an immediate vote. Senator Boxer was able to hold debate on the oil royalty issue open for two weeks before Senator Hutchison had the votes for cloture. Had the filibuster continued, the rider would likely have been withdrawn. On September 23, 1999, the Senate voted to end debate on the oil royalty rider, 60-39. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

10. Consumer Protection/Oppose Anti-Consumer, Anti-Privacy Bank Reforms:
Congress passed and the President signed sweeping legislation largely repealing Depression-era banking laws preventing affiliations between banks, insurance companies and brokerages. Unfortunately, the bill fails to guarantee that consumers will benefit from the massive financial supermarkets it will create. Among its most egregious flaws is its failure to protect consumer privacy: it allows confidential consumer financial records to be shared or sold for marketing without consumer consent. The bill also fails to require that these financial powerhouses offer affordable bank accounts. The bill makes it easy for mutual insurance companies that are owned by their ratepayers to convert to stock ownership and transfer billions of dollars of consumer equity to management pockets without consumer compensation. It also broadly eviscerates state consumer protection laws. On November 4, 1999, the Senate voted to pass the bill 90-8. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

11. Consumer Protection/Protect Consumers From High-Cost Lenders:
During consideration of legislation supported by the credit card industry to amend the bankruptcy laws, S. 625 (Grassley (R-IA) and Torricelli (D-NJ)), Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN) offered a balancing amendment to curb certain abusive practices. The Wellstone amendment would have prevented predatory lenders who make loans at interest rates greater than 100% APR, such as payday and auto title pawn loan companies, from making claims against consumers to recover unpaid debts in bankruptcy. The amendment would have also curbed certain unfair debt collection practices. On February 1, 2000, the Senate voted to table (kill) the Wellstone amendment 53-44. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

12. Consumer Protection/Oppose Weakening Consumer Bankruptcy Protections:
Over the last three years, the credit card industry has persisted in a multi-million dollar lobbying and public relations campaign to enact draconian changes to the bankruptcy laws that would prevent consumers from making a fresh start in bankruptcy as current consumer protections allow in certain circumstances. Worse, the industry has also blocked all balancing amendments designed to stop abusive and deceptive credit card marketing and interest rate practices that have resulted in massive and growing credit card debt loads as well as thousands of consumer complaints to regulators. Recent studies have shown that consumers do not abuse bankruptcy laws, but generally are forced to file bankruptcy due to medical or job dislocation crises. Further, studies show that if there ever was a bankruptcy crisis, it is self-correcting. On February 2, 2000, the Senate voted to pass the bill 83-14. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

13. Health Care/Oppose Weak Patients’ Bill Of Rights "Reforms":
The Senate turned aside real managed care reform proposals, and instead enacted a weak bill, S. 1344. Most of the bill’s protections apply only to the 48 million patients in health care plans exempt from state regulation. The bill fails to guarantee critical parts of PIRG’s Patient’s Rights Platform. It does not guaranee access to specialists, it does not ban gag clauses or financial incentives to deny care, it does not ensure that doctors, not HMOs, have the final say over medical treatment, and it does not hold plans legally liable when they make medical decisions that result in harm to the patient. On July 15, 1999, the Senate passed the bill 53-47. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

14. Campaign Finance Reform/Ban Soft Money Contributions:
Sens. McCain (R-AZ) and Feingold (D-WI) brought S. 1593 to the floor of the Senate to ban soft money contributions in federal elections. Soft money is unlimited and unregulated funds from corporations, labor unions, and wealthy individuals given to political parties and other organizations as a way to get around the legal limits on contributions to candidates. While the bill fell short of comprehensive reform, it would be an important first step. A motion to invoke cloture on the debate, which would have allowed it to come to a final vote, failed on October 19, 1999 by a vote of 53-47. Despite the fact that a majority of Senators supported the bill, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) did not bring it to a final vote because 60 votes were needed to break a filibuster by Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY). PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

15. Campaign Contributions/Amend Constitution to Limit Contributions and Spending:
Sens. Hollings (D-SC) and Specter (R-PA) offered a proposed constitutional amendment to authorize the Congress and the states to set mandatory limits on campaign spending and contributions. Congress set spending limits in 1974, but they were invalidated by the controversial Supreme Court decision, Buckley vs. Valeo, which extended First Amendment protection to unlimited spending in elections. A no vote in this instance was the pro campaign finance thing to do because the vote was on a motion to "set on the table" the Hollings-Specter proposal that would have allowed for mandatory spending limits. Once the motion was tabled, there could not be an up or down vote on the proposal itself. Tabling a motion is a fairly standard way of killing legislation in the Senate.On March 28, 2000, the Senate tabled (killed) the amendment by a vote of 67-33. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

House Votes 2000
1. Environmental Defense/Oppose Unlimited Mining Waste Dumping on Public Lands: The hardrock mining industry is one of the most polluting and most heavily subsidized industries in the country. Under the antiquated 1872 Mining Law, mining companies have been allowed to extract billions of dollars of minerals from public land without paying a dime in royalties and have abandoned more than half a million polluting mine sites, leaving the cleanup tab to taxpayers. Yet, the mining industry is now seeking an even greater giveaway — a change to the 1872 Mining Law to allow unlimited access to public lands for use as private mining waste dumps. Representatives Nick Rahall (D-WV), Christopher Shays (R-CT) and Jay Inlsee (D-WA) offered an amendment to the fiscal year 2000 Interior Appropriations bill (H.R. 2466) to protect taxpayers and the environment by limiting the amount of public land mining companies can use to dump waste. On July 14, 1999, the House passed the amendment, 273 to 151. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

2. Environmental Defense/Oppose Spending Bill With Anti-Environment Amendments:
Special interest lobbyists and their allies in Congress increasingly hide attacks on environmental protections in must-pass appropriations bills, rather than proposing these attacks as stand-alone legislation. The fiscal year 2000 Interior Appropriation bill contained many such sneak environmental attacks or "riders," mostly added in the Senate. In part, these anti-environmental riders allowed destructive grazing on millions of acres of ecologically sensitive public land to continue without environmental review, opened up unlimited public land to mine waste dumping, and allowed the oil industry to avoid paying $66 million a year for drilling on public lands. After two weeks of negotiations with the Senate, the House agreed to accept most of the Senate’s riders. Fortunately President Clinton’s threats to veto the bill enabled negotiators to remove some of the worst riders. On October 21, 1999, the House passed the fiscal year 2000 Interior Spending bill (H.R. 2466), 225-200. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

3. Environmental Defense/Expose Hidden Anti-Environment Amendments:
Rep. Waxman (CA) offered his "Defense of the Environment Amendment" that would have prevented Congress from rolling back environmental laws without an open debate and public accountability. His amendment would have simply required that Congress have a debate and a recorded vote prior to passing legislation, including anti-environmental riders that repeal protections for public health and safety and the environment. Over 300 environmental, labor, public health, and public interest organizations, as well as the Clinton Administration supported the amendment. Unfortunately, special interests lobbied hard defeat the bill. On February 10, 1999, the House rejected the amendment 203-216. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

4. Environmental Defense/Oppose Restricting New Health And Safety Protections:
H.R. 350, the "Mandates Information Act," would roll back major protections for the environment and public health by creating opportunities for Members of Congress to kill such protections without even voting on them. The bill allows Members to use a procedural rule, called a "point of order," that can stop Congress from considering any bill that imposes costs exceeding $100 million on the private sector. Since Congress must periodically reauthorize existing environmental laws and pass all new protections, members could use this "point of order" to gut our nation’s environmental laws. On February 10, 1999, the House passed the bil 274-149. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

5. Environmental Defense/Stop Anti-Environment Budget Amendments:
Because they wish to shield their actions from public scrutiny, special interests and their Congressional allies attach anti-environmental provisions to unrelated legislation. Last year, special interests attached several anti-environmental provisions to "must-pass" legislation to fund national parks and other public lands. These provisions would: allow mining companies unlimited amounts of public land for toxic waste dumping, allow oil companies to underpay royalties owed to the public and weaken protections for public lands damaged by overgrazing. On October 4, 1999, Representative Dicks (D-WA) offered a motion to block these harmful provisions which was approved by the House 218-199. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

6. Environmental Defense/Stop Waivers Of Fines For Polluters:
H.R. 391, the "Small Business Paperwork Reduction Act Amendments" would require agencies to waive fines against first time violators of regulatory protections. This bill undercuts the very tools, reporting and record keeping, which ensure polluters obey the law. It would also put law-abiding businesses at a disadvantage to bad actors that choose to save money by breaking the law. On Ferbruary 11, 1999, the House passed the bill 274-151. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

7. Environmental Defense/Protect Wetlands from Development:
Wetlands are crucial to people and wildlife because they filter water pollution, soak up floodwaters and provide critical habitat for birds, fish and shellfish, and other animals. Yet, thousands of acres of wetlands are destroyed every year by an Army Corps of Engineers program called Nationwide Permit 26, which allows developers to fill wetlands without public notice or environmental review. The Army Corps is in the process of replacing this permit with a new program that will better protect wetlands, but a rider included in the fiscal year 2000 Energy and Water Appropriations bill would have blocked the new program and further shut the public out of the decision making process. Representative Peter Visclosky (D-IN) offered an amendment to eliminate this rider. On July 27, 1999, the House rejected the amendment 183-245, although negotiators were later able to remove the rider. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

8. Land And Water Conservation/Cut Fossil Fuels Subsidy, Fund Public Lands:
The burning of coal and oil is a major source of smog-forming nitrogen oxide, soot-producing sulfur dioxide, the global warming gas carbon dioxide, and toxic mercury. Yet, every year, coal and oil companies receive hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to continue producing these dirty energy sources. Representatives McGovern (D-MA), Campbell (R-CA), Hoeffel (D-PA) and Holt (D-NJ) offered an amendment to the fiscal year 2000 Interior Appropriations bill to cut $29 million from this coal and oil subsidy, and transfer the money to state grants for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which are used to fund land purchases for open space and outdoor recreation. On July 13, 1999, the House adopted the amendment, 213-202. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

9. National Forests/Cut Subsidy for Logging in National Forests:
The U.S. Forest Service subsidizes the destruction of our rapidly dwindling National Forests by selling off our trees to the timber industry at prices that do not even cover the basic costs of the timber sales program. As a result, taxpayers have lost $2 billion over the last six years, and logging has destroyed wildlife habitat, polluted rivers necessary for fish and for drinking water, and caused expensive and deadly mudslides. Representatives David Wu (D-OR) and Darlene Hooley (D-OR) offered an amendment to the fiscal year 2000 Interior Appropriations bill (H.R. 2466) that would have cut $23 million from the timber subsidy, and shifted the funding to fish and wildlife habitat and watershed restoration programs. On July 14, 1999, the House rejected the amendment, 174 to 250. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

10. Nuclear Waste/Stop Dangerous Nuclear Waste Transport:
S. 1287, The Nuclear Waste Policy Act Amendments of 200, would needlessly mandate the transportation of highly radioactive waste through 43 states. This bill would put millions of Americans at risk, and undermine EPA radiation standards. On March 22, 2000, the House approved S. 1287 by a 253-167 vote. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

11. Clean Energy/Cut Coal and Oil Subsidies:
The burning of coal and oil is a major source of smog-forming nitrogen oxide, soot-producing sulfur dioxide, the global warming gas carbon dioxide, and toxic mercury. Yet, every year, coal and oil companies receive hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to continue producing these dirty energy sources. Representatives Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Ron Lewis (R-KY), James Oberstar (D-MN) and Bart Stupak (D-MI) offered an amendment to cut $50 million from the fossil fuel subsidy. On July 14, 1999, the House adopted the amendment, 248 to 169. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

12. National Forests/Stop Incentives For Logging in National Forest:
H.R. 2389, introduced by Reps. Nathan Deal (R-GA) and Allen Boyd (D-FL) creates incentives to log more of our National Forests. Under current law the Forest Service has to pay 25% of receipts from logging, mining, and oil and gas development on National Forests to states and counties. A number of counties use this money to pay for schools and new roads. Declining timber receipts, have resulted in a decline in the payments to counties. H.R. 2389 would make full payments to counties over the next 5 years based on an historical average from the years in which logging was at its peak. On November 3, 1999, the House passed this bill 274-153 in modified form that did not require the Forest Service to pay for any shortfalls out of their budget. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

13. Environmental Preservation/Stop Weakening of Land Use Protections:
Rep. Canady (R-FL) introduced a bill, written with assistance from the National Association of Homebuilders, that would allow developers to sue cities and counties in federal courts over local land use disputes. This bill would circumvent local land use procedures and give developers a big stick to intimidate local governments who do not have the resources to fight expensive federal lawsuits. This bill would also greatly increase the burden on federal courts. H.R. 2372 was opposed by Attorneys General from 40 states, the National League of Cities, and the U.S. Judicial Conference (on behalf of federal courts). On March 16, 2000 the House passed the bill 226-182. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

14. Consumer Protection/Oppose Weakening Consumer Bankruptcy Protections:
Over the last three years, the credit card industry has persisted in a multi-million dollar lobbying and public relations campaign to enact draconian changes to the bankruptcy laws that would prevent consumers from making a fresh start in bankruptcy as current consumer protections allow in certain circumstances. Worse, the industry has also blocked all balancing amendments designed to stop abusive and deceptive credit card marketing and interest rate practices that have resulted in massive and growing credit card debt loads as well as thousands of consumer complaints to regulators. Recent studies have shown that consumers do not abuse bankruptcy laws, but generally are forced to file bankruptcy due to medical or job dislocation crises. Further, studies show that if there ever was a bankruptcy crisis, it is self-correcting. On May 5, 1999, the House passed the bill 313-108. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

15. Consumer Protection/Oppose Anti-Consumer, Anti-Privacy Bank Reforms:
Congress passed and the President signed sweeping legislation largely repealing Depression-era banking laws preventing affiliations between banks, insurance companies and brokerages. Unfortunately, the bill fails to guarantee that consumers will benefit from the massive financial supermarkets it will create. Among its most egregious flaws is its failure to protect consumer privacy: It allows confidential consumer financial records to be shared or sold for marketing without consumer consent. The bill also fails to require that these financial powerhouses offer affordable bank accounts. The bill makes it easy for mutual insuance companies that are owned by their ratepayers to convert to stock ownership and transfer billions of dollars of consumer equity to management pockets without consumer compensation. It also broadly eviscerates state consumer protection laws. On July 1, 1999, the House passed the bill 343-86. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

16. Consumer Protection/Oppose Weakening Product Safety Legal Protections:
Class actions are an important consumer tool used in a variety of situations, including cases dealing with bank fraud, insurance fraud and defective products. The House narrowly passed legislation that makes it harder for consumers to bring class action lawsuits in state courts. The legislation will allow businesses to use procedural roadblocks in the federal courts to stymie consumer efforts to deter corporate misconduct. The legislation was supported by a broad array of companies including tobacco, insurance, pharmaceutical, chemical and automotive interests. Amendments to carve-out the tobacco and gun industries from its safe harbor for corporate wrongdoers were defeated. On September 23, 1999, the House passed the bill 222-207. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

17. Consumer Protection/Oppose Weakening Consumer Legal Rights:
The House passed the falsely-labeled "Small Business Liability Reform Act," which caps the amount of punitive damages recoverable by the victims of corporate misconduct and largely applies to all firms, not only small businesses. Punitive damages are only awarded by the courts in the most egregious circumstances. The mere threat of punitive damages serves as an important deterrent against corporate misbehavior, so this legislation will likely lead to more medical malpractice, more dangerous products, more contaminated food and more financial scams. The proposal shifts the costs of business misbehavior from the companies who profited from it to consumers injured by it. On February 16, 1999, the House passed the bill 221-193. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

18. Health Care/Pass Strong Patients’ Bill Of Rights:
Overcoming strong opposition from the Republican leadership, the House passed H.R. 2723, a broadly bipartisan, pro-consumer managed care reform bill (Norwood (R-GA)-Dingell (D-MI)). The bill protects the doctor-patient relationship by ensuring that physician decisions prevail over health plan objections if upheld by external review and by eliminating improper physician incentives to deny care. The bill holds health plans liable for negligence, allows patients the right to drugs not on their health plan’s list, and allows patients direct access to specialists in some cases. Unlike the weak Senate-passed proposal, H.R. 2723’s protections apply to all 161 million Americans in private insurance plans. On October 7, 1999, the House passed the bill 275-151. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

19. Campaign Finance Reform/Stop Increase In Contribution Limits:
During the House debate on campaign finance reform, Rep. Edward Whitfield (R-KY) offered an amendment to the Shays-Meehan bill that would have increased the current limit on contributions to candidates from $1,000 to $3,000. This would only further increase the amounts that candidates raise from wealthy donors, and give special interests even more influence in determining who runs for office and who wins elections. On September 14, 1999, the House rejected the amendment 127-300. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

20. Campaign Finance Reform/Ban Soft Money Contributions:
Representatives Chris Shays (R-CT) and Marty Meehan (D-MA) introduced a bill to enact modest reforms in the federal campaign finance system in the 106th Congress. That bill did nothing to limit the outrageous amounts that special interests can give directly to candidates, but it did prevent corporations and very wealthy donors from giving unregulated and unlimited "soft money" contributions to political parties and other groups seeking to influence election outcomes. On September 14, 1999, the House passed the final version of the bill 252-177. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

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June 2000