[ Scorecard Home ]

VOTE DESCRIPTIONS



1) [SEN] Environmental Defense/Oppose Right to Know Rollback
The 1986 Community Right to Know Act requires companies to report releases of certain toxic chemicals to the environment. It is the best national database on toxics in the environment available to the public and government regulators. A provision in Sen. Dole's (R-KS) so-called Regulatory Reform bill (S.343) would allow polluters to avoid reporting under the Right to Know Act by removing up to 90 percent of the chemicals currently reported. Sen. Lautenberg (D-NJ) offered an amendment to strike the provision and Sen. Dole moved to table the amendment. The Dole motion to table the amendment was adopted 50-48 on July 13, 1995. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

2) [SEN] Environmental Defense/Oppose Health, Safety Rollback
Senate Majority Leader Dole (R-KS) sponsored S. 343, the so-called "Regulatory Reform" bill that would undercut existing legal safeguards and make it difficult to write new regulations for many laws including the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. Majority Leader Dole brought his bill before the Senate for 11 days of debate over a four-week period. Senate debate on an issue can continue indefinitely without a final vote on passage unless 60 senators vote to cut off debate or invoke "cloture." On July 20, 1995, the Senate rejected the third cloture motion 58-40 (60 votes needed to cut off debate) on the Dole Regulatory Reform bill (S. 343). PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

3) [SEN] Environmental Defense/Oppose Safe Drinking Water Rollback
The parasite cryptosporidium contaminated Milwaukee, Wisconsin's drinking water in 1993; 400,000 people were sickened and over 100 people died. Several other cryptosporidium outbreaks have occurred since, including an incident in Las Vegas, Nevada which killed at least 30 people. Cryptosporidium is not currently regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. EPA is developing health standards to address the threat of cryptosporidium in drinking water. Sen. Kohl (D-WI) offered an amendment to exempt regulations for cryptosporidium and other drinking water contaminants from the requirements and delays of the "regulatory reform" proposal, S. 343. An amendment to table the Kohl amendment was adopted 50-48 on July 12, 1995. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

4) [SEN] Environmental Defense/Oppose Drilling in Arctic Refuge
The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska is one of our last great wilderness areas. It is home to polar bears, musk oxen and the 150,000 Porcupine Caribou herd. Oil industry interests attached a provision to the Senate Budget Reconciliation bill to allow oil and gas exploration and drilling in the refuge. Sen. Roth (R-DE) offered an amendment to strip this anti-environmental provision. Sen. Domenici (R-NM) motioned to table the Roth amendment. The motion to table was adopted 51-48 on October 27, 1995. President Clinton later vetoed the bill. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

5) [SEN] Environmental Defense/End Ban on Protecting Species
Sens. Reid (D-NV) and Chafee (R-RI) motioned to table an amendment to the FY 1996 Omnibus Appropriations bill offered by Sen. Hutchison (R-TX) which continued a moratorium on listing endangered fish and wildlife under the Endangered Species Act and would give a mere $1 for the necessary studies to list endangered wildlife under the Act. Under the Hutchison amendment, an endangered species could only be given protection in an emergency situation, leaving over 240 threatened and endangered plants, fish, and animals in peril. Motion to table the Hutchison amendment was rejected 49-51 on March 13, 1996. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

6) [SEN] Environmental Defense/End Logging Without Laws
Under the guise of promoting sales of "salvage" timber in our national forests, the House Appropriations Committee added language to a spending cuts bill to more than double logging and clearcutting in our ancient forests while exempting these timber sales from all federal environmental laws. U.S. taxpayers will spend an additional $200 million a year on timber industry subsidies because of this provision, and citizens are powerless to block these sales because of environmental concerns. After months of environmental devastation in our ancient forests, Sen. Murray (D-WA) offered an amendment to another spending bill to repeal the logging without laws provision. Rejected 42-54 on March 14, 1996. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

7) [SEN] Environmental Defense/Oppose Grazing Standards Rollback
Current federal policy for grazing on public lands is worse than a simple taxpayer handout to ranchers. Over two-thirds of our federally-owned rangelands have been over-grazed, eroded, or otherwise degraded. "The Public Rangelands Management Act" S. 1459, introduced by Sen. Domenici (R-NM), would further threaten the future of over 250 million acres of public rangelands by giving ranchers even more power, preventing meaningful public participation, and circumventing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Adopted 51-46 on March 21, 1996. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

8) [SEN] Environmental Defense/Protect Utah Wilderness
The Omnibus Parks bill (H.R. 1296), which contained more than 30 park related provisions, was not a controversial bill until Senator Frank Murkowski (R-AK), at the request of Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Robert Bennett (R-UT), included the strongly-criticized Utah Public Lands Management Act (S.884) into the bill. While environmentalists had been campaigning for the designation of 5.7 million acres of Utah wilderness, the Utah bill would have designated only 2 million acres of wilderness, rolled back environmental protections, created exceptions to the Wilderness Act, and prevented future protection of currently undeveloped land. In an effort to stop S.884 from being included in the omnibus parks bill, Senator Bill Bradley (D-NJ) started a filibuster. Senator Murkowski attempted to cut off debate by making a cloture motion, which needs 60 votes to succeed. Cloture motion failed 51-49 on March 27, 1996. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

9) [SEN] Environmental Defense/Oppose Nuclear Waste Transport
The Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1996, S. 1936, would set aside environmental laws, weaken allowable radiation standards, and begin an unprecedented transportation of radioactive waste on our nation's roads and railroads by November 30, 1999. Passed 63-37 on July 31, 1996. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

10) [SEN] Polluter Pork Handouts/Stop Mining Industry Giveaway
The Mining Law of 1872 is the "granddaddy" of all polluter pork programs. Under this archaic law, gold, silver and other hardrock mining companies extract billions of dollars of minerals from public lands with no return to the federal Treasury. Under this 124-year old corporate welfare program, these companies may purchase the land for $2.50 to $5.00 per acre through a process called "patenting," and often leave highly-contaminated rivers, groundwater and land which then must be cleaned at taxpayer expense. Sen. Bumpers (D-AR) offered a one-year extension of a moratorium on patenting. Rejected 46-51 on August 8, 1995. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

11) [SEN] Polluter Pork Handouts/Increase Grazing Fees on Public Lands
Taxpayers lose over $50 million per year subsidizing grazing on public lands because the below-market value fees do not begin to cover the costs of administering federal range management programs. According to the General Accounting Office, 2% of grazing permittees, including four billionaires and a few oil companies, control roughly half of the acreage. Sen. Jeffords (R-VT) offered an amendment to S. 1459 to increase the federal grazing fee for large permittees to the equivalent of fees paid on state lands. Sen. Domenici (R-NM) moved to table the Jeffords amendment. Motion adopted 52-47 on March 21, 1996. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

12) [SEN] Polluter Pork Handouts/Stop Sugar Industry Subsidy
Through a series of trade restrictions and price controls, the U.S. sugar industry reaps an extra $1.4 billion annually from U.S. consumers. U.S. sugar prices are double those on the world market. Production of sugarcane in the Florida Everglades, spurred by this consumer subsidy, has caused disruption of the water flow to the ecosystem and has dumped tons of pollutants, mostly phosphorous, into the Everglades. Senator Gregg (R-NH) offered an amendment to reform the sugar program. Rejected 35-61 on February 7, 1996. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

13) [SEN] Polluter Pork Handouts/Stop Wasteful Dam Project
The environmentally harmful Animas La Plata water project in Southwestern Colorado would critically drain two of Colorado's last free flowing rivers, cause continuous Clean Water violations in New Mexico and cost federal taxpayers over $500 million. Sen. Feingold (D-WI) offered an amendment to cut funding for construction of the project. Sen. Nighthorse-Campbell (R-CO) moved to table the Feingold amendment. Motion to table accepted 65-33 on July 30, 1996. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

14) [SEN] Polluter Pork Handouts/End Dangerous Nuclear Program
Americans overwhelmingly favor spending their tax dollars on energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, yet nuclear energy has historically garnered the lion's share (more than $47.2 billion in 1995 dollars) of federal funding for energy research programs. Despite the clear market rejection of new nuclear power reactors, the Department of Energy (DOE) will squander $38 million this year on the Advanced Light Water Reactor (ALWR) program which primarily funds new reactor design efforts at General Electric ($60.6 billion in sales in 1994) and Westinghouse ($8.8 billion in 1994). Senators McCain (R-AZ), Feingold (D-WI), Gregg (R-NH), Bumpers (D-AR) and Kerry (D-MA) offered an amendment to eliminate funding for this program. Sen. Domenici (R-NM) moved to table the amendment. Motion accepted 53-45 on July 30, 1996. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

15) [SEN] Safe Drinking Water/ Support Citizens' Right to Know
As part of the Senate debate over reauthorizing the Safe Drinking Water Act, Sens. Boxer (D-CA) and Daschle (D-SD) offered an amendment that would have required water utilities to send annual reports to consumers detailing contaminants found in their tap water. Sen. Chafee (R-RI) offered an amendment to table this simple proposal to expand citizens' right to know what is in their drinking water. The amendment to table was adopted 59-40 on November 29, 1995. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

16) [SEN] Consumer Protection/Oppose Product Safety Rollback
Sens. Gorton (R-WA) and Rockefeller (D-WV) sponsored H.R. 956, the Product Liability Fairness Act. The bill weakens the rights of victims of defective products, including firearms and tobacco victims, and encourages the manufacture of dangerous products by reducing liability of corporate wrongdoers and capping punitive damage awards. The bill discriminates against women, children and the elderly by eliminating joint liability for pain and suffering damages. It also unfairly repeals pro-consumer state laws, but allows anti-consumer state laws to stand. Adopted 59-40 on March 21, 1996. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

17) [SEN] Consumer Protection/Oppose Investor Rights Rollback
Sens. Dodd (D-CT) and Domenici (R-NM) were the primary sponsors of H.R. 1058, the Securities Litigation Reform Act. This new law makes it nearly impossible for defrauded investors to recover their losses in investment swindles, broadly immunizes accountants, lawyers and companies for their complicity in financial frauds, and fails to fix recent anti-investor decisions of the courts. The Senate voted to override President Clinton's veto of this anti-consumer bill. Override adopted 68-30 (2/3rds required to override veto) on December 22, 1995. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

18) [SEN] Higher Education/Support Student Loans
Sens. Snowe (R-ME) and Simon (D-IL) offered this amendment to the FY96 Budget Resolution (SCR 13) that would restore funds to the student loan program. The amendment was instrumental in stopping proposals to eliminate the in-school interest exemption on student loans. Without the government funding for the interest payments on student loans, the cost of student loans would increase by 20% to 50%. This amendment kept funding available for the student loan program by closing tax loopholes and cutting corporate welfare. Adopted 67-32 on May 25, 1995. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

19) [SEN] Campaign Finance Reform/Amend Constitution to Limit Contributions & Spending
Sens. Hollings (D-SC) and Specter (R-PA), with numerous cosponsors, introduced a constitutional amendment to allow Congress and the states to set limits on campaign contributions and expenditures. Currently, because of a flawed 1976 Supreme Court ruling equating unlimited money in campaigns with free speech, it is not possible to set mandatory low limits on campaign contributions and spending. A constitutional amendment would clear the way for such reforms, which voters have supported numerous times in recent years through state ballot initiatives. Rejected 38-61 on March 18, 1997. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

1) [HSE] Environmental Defense/Oppose Environmental Rollback/"Contract"
The "Risk Assessment and Cost Benefit Act" would require lengthy, complicated risk assessment and cost-benefit studies before most new public health and environmental protection programs would take effect. The bill would increase red tape and bureaucracy by requiring bureaucrats to quantify the harm caused by a particular chemical or pollutant, replacing environmental and health-based standards with cost-benefit analysis. EPA estimates that it would take 1,000 new bureaucrats and $220 million to conduct all of these risk studies. Adopted 277-141 on March 3, 1995. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

2) [HSE] Environmental Defense/Oppose "Dirty Water Act"
Rep. Shuster (R-PA) introduced a "Dirty Water Act" (H.R. 961) that would reauthorize and rewrite the Clean Water Act. The bill would relax or waive federal water pollution control regulations, allow more toxic chemicals and sewage into waterways, remove up to 80 percent of wetlands from federal protection, and require the federal government to reimburse landowner if wetlands protections cause a 20 percent decrease in value to any portion of their land. Adopted 240-185 on May 16, 1995. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

3) [HSE] Environmental Defense/Oppose Pro-Polluter "Riders"/EPA Budget
Anti-environmental forces in Congress attached 17 "riders" to the Fiscal 1996 VA-HUD Independent Agencies Appropriations Bill (H.R. 2099), which funds the EPA. These riders would have weakened key sections of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act and Community Right to Know Act. Reps. Stokes (D-OH) and Boehlert (R-NY) offered an amendment to eliminate the anti-environmental riders from the EPA Budget. On July 28, 1995, the amendment was adopted by a narrow six-vote margin. Three days later, on July 31, 1995, the Stokes-Boehlert amendment was rejected 210-210. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

4) [HSE] Environmental Defense/Oppose Pro-Polluter "Riders"/EPA Budget
The House again considered the 17 anti-environmental riders on the EPA Budget. During a vote naming conferees to the House-Senate Conference Committee on H.R. 2099, Rep. Stokes (D-OH) offered a motion to instruct the House conferees to drop the anti-environmental riders in the conference. Adopted 227-194 on November 2, 1995. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

5) [HSE] Environmental Defense/Protect Endangered Species
Rep. Frank Riggs (R-CA) attached a rider to the Fiscal Year 1997 Interior Appropriations bill (H.R. 3662) that would have prevented the enforcement or designation of critical habitat for the marbled murrelet, an endangered seabird, on private lands in California under the Endangered Species Act. The area that would have been effected by this rider was the Headwaters Forest on the north coast of California which contains the largest remaining privately held stands of ancient redwood trees and critical habitat for the marbled murrelet. The Riggs rider would have essentially given the Pacific Lumber Company which wants to log these redwood stands a special exemption from the ESA. Rep. Norm Dicks' (D-WA) offered an amendment to strike the Riggs rider from the bill. Adopted 257-164 on June 19, 1996. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

6) [HSE] Environmental Defense/End Logging Without Laws
In the 1995 Budget Rescissions Act, Congress attached a rider which allowed timber companies to purchase and log parcels in our national forest without having to comply with any federal environmental laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act. The rider also prevented legal challenges to these timber sales. The proponents of this rider argued that this wholesale exemption to our environmental laws was necessary to protect "forest health" and promote the sales of "salvage" timber in our national forests. This rider, however, caused destruction of old growth forest, intrusion into roadless areas, adverse effects on water quality and the fisheries industry and threatened habitat for endangered and sensitive species. Representatives Elizabeth Furse (D-OR), John Porter (R-IL), Sidney Yates (D-IL), and Constance Morella (R-MD), offered an amendment to the Fiscal Year 1997 Interior Appropriations bill (H.R. 3662), prohibiting the spending of any 1997 funds for the implementation of the timber salvage rider. Rejected 209-211 on June 20, 1996. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

7) [HSE] Environmental Defense/Make Polluters Pay for Toxic Cleanup
The Superfund reauthorization bill, H.R.2500, introduced by Rep. Michael Oxley (R-OH), would have authorized reimbursements to parties liable for the cost of cleaning up hazardous waste sites in essence, paying polluters who damage the environment and public health. Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) offered a "Polluter Pays" amendment to H.R. 3666, the Fiscal Year 1997 VA-HUD Appropriations Bill. The amendment would have prohibited reimbursing polluters if they had already entered into court-approved agreements to clean up contaminated sites. Rejected 142-274 on June 26, 1996. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

8) [HSE] Polluter Pork Handouts/Stop Giveaway to Mining Companies
The Mining Law of 1872 is the "granddaddy" of all polluter pork programs. Under this archaic law, gold, silver and other hardrock mining companies extract billions of dollars of minerals from public lands with no return to the federal Treasury. Under this 124-year old corporate welfare program, these companies may purchase the land for $2.50 to $5.00 per acre through a process called "patenting," and often leave highly-contaminated rivers, groundwater and land which then must be cleaned at taxpayer expense. Reps. Klug (R-WI) and Rahall (D-WV) offered an amendment to the House Interior Appropriations bill which would extend for one year the moratorium on patenting public lands. Adopted 271-153 on July 18, 1995. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

9) [HSE] Polluter Pork Handouts/Stop Sugar Industry Subsidy
Through a series of trade restrictions and price controls, the U.S. sugar industry reaps an extra $1.4 billion annually from U.S. consumers. U.S. sugar prices are double those on the world market. Increasing production of sugarcane in the Florida Everglades, spurred by this consumer subsidy, has caused disruption of the water flow to the ecosystem and has dumped tons of pollutants, mostly phosphorous, into the Everglades. Reps. Miller (R-FL) and Schumer (D-NY) offered an amendment to reform the sugar program. Rejected 208-217 on February 28, 1996. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

10) [HSE] Polluter Pork Handouts/Stop Tobacco Industry Subsidy
Tobacco is an agricultural product which kills when used as directed. The federal government spends at least $40 million annually for special programs and assistance to tobacco farmers. Representatives Durbin (D-IL), Hansen (R-UT), and Meehan (D-MA) offered an amendment to cut funding for tobacco programs and use the savings for water and sewer projects. Rejected 210-212 on June 12, 1996. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

11) [HSE] Polluter Pork Handouts/Stop Wasteful Dam Project
The environmentally harmful Animas La Plata water project in Southwestern Colorado would critically drain two of Colorado's last free flowing rivers, cause continuous Clean Water violations in New Mexico and cost federal taxpayers over $500 million. Representatives DeFazio (D-OR) and Petri (R-WI) offered an amendment to cut funding for construction of the project. Adopted 221-200 on July 24, 1996. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

12) [HSE] Polluter Pork Handouts/End Dangerous Nuclear Program
Americans overwhelmingly favor spending their tax dollars on energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, yet nuclear energy has historically garnered the lion's share (more than $47.2 billion in 1995 dollars) of federal funding for energy research programs. Despite this clear market rejection of new nuclear power reactors, the Department of Energy (DOE) will squander $38 million this year on the Advanced Light Water Reactor (ALWR) program which primarily funds new reactor design efforts at General Electric ($60.6 billion in sales in 1994) and Westinghouse ($8.8 billion in 1994). Representatives Obey (D-WI) and Foley (R-FL) offered an amendment to eliminate funding for this program. Rejected 198-211 on July 25, 1996. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

13) [HSE] Polluter Pork Handouts/Stop Building Roads for Timber Industry
Taxpayer funds are used to build Forest Service roads. These are built so that the timber industry can gain access to national forests. Because the Forest Service sells the timber for less than the cost of the roads and other program costs, taxpayers lose an average of $300 million per year. There are currently over 370,000 miles of roads crisscrossing our National Forests, which is over eight times the size of the entire Federal Interstate Highway System. New road-building causes soil erosion and stream sedimentation, degrades water quality, and fragments wildlife habitat. On June 19, 1996, the House voted 211-210 to approve an amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill offered by Representatives Joe Kennedy (D-MA), John Porter (R-IL), Dan Miller (R-FL), David Minge (D-MN), Ed Royce (R-CA), Scott Klug (R-WI), and John Hostettler (R-IN) cutting funding for forest road construction. On June 20, 1996, however the issue was revoted and the amendment was rejected on a 211-211 vote. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

14) [HSE] Consumer Protection/Oppose Investor Rights Rollback
Motion to override President Clinton's veto, and enact into law, H.R. 1058, the Securities Litigation Reform Act, sponsored primarily by Reps. Cox (R-CA), Tauzin (R-LA), Fields (R-TX) and Bliley (R-VA). The new law makes it nearly impossible for defrauded investors to recover their losses in investment swindles, broadly immunizes accountants, lawyers and companies for their complicity in financial frauds, and fails to fix recent anti-investor decisions of the courts. Adopted (2/3rds required to override veto) 319-100 on December 20, 1995. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

15) [HSE] Consumer Protection/Oppose Patient Rights Rollback
During consideration of H.R. 956, legislation restricting the rights of product liability victims, Rep. Cox (R-CA) proposed an amendment to extend the bill's $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages to medical malpractice claims. These awards for pain and suffering generally compensate victims who are maimed, paralyzed, blinded or disfigured. Adopted 247-171 on March 9, 1995. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

16) [HSE] Consumer Protection/Oppose Product Safety Rollback
Passage of H.R. 956, which would encourage the manufacture of defective products and restrict the legal rights of victims in all civil lawsuits, including not only product liability victims but also victims of medical malpractice and drunk drivers. The bill discriminates against women, children and the elderly by restricting noneconomic damages, or pain and suffering, awards. It also unfairly repeals pro-consumer state laws, but allows anti-consumer state laws to stand. Adopted 265-161 on March 10, 1995. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

17) [HSE] Clean Energy/Preserve Funds for Renewable Energy
Last year, Congress reduced spending for clean renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal and biomass) by 29%. Representatives Schaefer (R-CO), Klug (R-WI), Thurman (D-FL), Fazio (D-CA), Minge (D-MN) and Salmon (R-AZ) offered an amendment to restore $42.1 million for renewable energy research and development. Adopted 279-135 on July 25, 1996. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: YES

18) [HSE] Higher Education/Oppose Campus Gag Rule
Rep. Solomon (R-NY) introduced this amendment to the 1996 education spending bill (H.R. 2127) in an effort to silence student groups and activism on college campuses. The amendment would have denied federal funds to colleges and universities where student groups used student funds for any activity which might "influence public policy." This amendment was an attack on student rights and free speech, and represented new levels of federal intrusion into campus activities. This amendment was opposed by thousands of educators, college presidents, education associations, student groups and public interest organizations. Rejected 161-263 on August 3, 1995. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

19) [HSE] Higher Education/Oppose Student Aid Cuts
This education spending bill slashed over $4.5 billion from education, the largest education cuts in history. The bill included $700 million in cuts to student aid, eliminating State Student Incentive Grants, the Perkins Loan Program, and Harris and Javits graduate fellowships. In addition, the bill contained legislative riders that would have crippled the Direct Student Loan Program. These riders were supported by banking interests in an effort to maintain taxpayer giveaways to the banks that operate the old student loan program. Adopted 219-208 on August 3, 1995. PUBLIC INTEREST VOTE: NO

Copyright © 1997 Public Interest Research Groups
Updated 3 Jun 1997 pirg@pirg.org