Under the Influence: Alcohol Lobby's Political Gifts
Monday, April 20, 1998; Page A17
Top House recipients | Top Senate recipients
The House Rules Committee vote late last month blocking House consideration of a measure to set a national drunken driving standard was motivated in part by Republicans' and Democrats' concerns over states' rights, constituents' objections to federal mandates and a reluctance to clash with special interests that contribute heavily to congressional campaigns.
According to a report by Common Cause, which lobbies for tougher campaign finance laws, alcoholic beverage and related interests contributed more than $26 million to federal candidates and political parties from 1987 through 1997.
The alcohol industry including the National Beer Wholesalers Association and individual companies and the National Restaurant Association have lobbied against stricter blood alcohol standards. Nearly $16 million of the lobby's political contributions went to Republicans, and about $10.2 million went to Democrats. The figures are based on reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
While the House has not voted on the tougher drunken driving standard, the Senate approved it as part of its version of a six-year highway reauthorization bill. States would lose up to 10 percent of their federal highway money unless they enforced a drunken driving standard of 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood.
Conferees will begin this week to decide whether to include the tougher standard in a final bill or adopt the House approach of offering states financial incentives for using 0.08.
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