The following is a report of how some major bills fared last week in Congress and how Southern Maryland's representative, Steny H. Hoyer (D-5th District), and Democratic Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Paul S. Sarbanes voted.
The House on Thursday approved a non-binding measure (H Con Res 180) criticizing President Clinton for offering clemency to 16 imprisoned members of the Armed Forces of National Liberation, which advocates independence for Puerto Rico. Although FALN committed at least 130 terrorist acts in the 1970s and 1980s, sometimes causing death, none of those offered pardons was convicted of crimes that caused injury or death. They have been behind bars for periods of 14 to 25 years for crimes such as robbery, possessing explosives and sedition. A yes vote was to condemn President Clinton for offering pardons to FALN members.
HOYER-DID NOT VOTE
The House on Wednesday defeated an amendment to keep the Selective Service in operation at a budget of $24.4 million for the next fiscal year. This occurred during debate on a fiscal 2000 appropriations bill (HR 2684) for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and other agencies. The bill seeks to terminate the Selective Service. Although there has been no conscription since the Vietnam War, men turning 18 must register with the draft agency. A yes vote was to keep the Selective Service in operation.
The House on Wednesday refused to deny the Space Station most of its fiscal 2000 funding and thus kill the long-running project. Offered to HR 2684 (above), the amendment sought to transfer most of the station's $2.3 billion budget to debt reduction, public housing and veterans' medical care. A consortium of 15 countries is building the orbiting scientific laboratory, with the United States covering about 85 percent of the cost. NASA projects it will cost nearly $100 billion to build the station and orbit it for 10 years. A yes vote was to kill the Space Station.
The House on Wednesday voted to increase spending by $10 million in fiscal 2000 for a program that provides residential housing and care for people with AIDS. The $10 million was transferred from the National Science Foundation's Antarctic research budget. The vote occurred during debate on HR 2684 (above). A yes vote was to transfer $10 million from Antarctic research to housing those with AIDS.
The Senate on Wednesday rejected an amendment on the issue of commercial logging in national forests. The measure sought to implement two federal court rulings that have delayed the sale of timber from U.S. forests in Washington state and Georgia. In part, the rulings require the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to obtain more data on the environmental impact of the proposed timber cutting, in keeping with the National Forest Management Act. With this vote, the Senate upheld language in an Interior Department spending bill (HR 2466) that overturns the rulings. A yes vote was to adopt an amendment backed by environmentalists and opposed by timber interests.
The Senate on Thursday failed to advance a proposed change in the formula for allocating mass transportation funds among the 50 states. Included in a fiscal 2000 spending bill (HR 2084) for the Department of Transportation and other agencies, the change would cap at 12.5 percent the amount a single state could receive from a $5.4 billion allocation for mass transit. This would penalize New York and California while benefiting the other 48 states. There was no debate on this test vote on the formula change. Sixty votes were needed to advance it. The proposal was later removed from the bill. A yes vote was to advance a proposed new formula for allocating mass transit funds.