Magazine article Insight on the News

Yeas & Nays

Magazine article Insight on the News

Yeas & Nays

Article excerpt

At the end of each text block is the vote breakdown along party lines. "D" denotes Democrats, "R" Republicans, "I" Independent. In the tables, boldface denotes Democrat, italic Republican.

Y Voted for

N Voted against

F Favored but did not vote

O Opposed but did not vote

P Voted present only

* Seat vacant; also used for House speaker when he does not vote

? Position unknown



King Cove Road

On Oct. 1, the Senate voted 59-38 to require the Interior Department to transfer a perpetual 100-foot-wide, 30-mile right-of-way through the environmentally sensitive Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to the Aleutians East Borough for the purpose of constructing a gravel, one-lane public road from the remote Alaska town of King Cove to Cold Bay, which has an all-weather airport.

The measure would require the King Cove Corp., an Alaskan Native group that, along with the federal government, owns most of the surrounding land, to transfer 664 acres of lands south of Cold Bay to the Interior Department in exchange for the road land.

Alaska Republican Frank Murkowski spoke in favor of the measure. "A road is the most practical, most reliable, least expensive alternative. That is why everyone else has them," he argued. "And why shouldn't the people of King Cove? That is the real issue."

Arkansas Democrat Dale Bumpers disagreed. "Building a road through wilderness in Alaska, no matter how short or how long, will be the first time in this nation that we have deliberately authorized building a road through wilderness," he argued. "Once you start down that road, nobody knows where it is going to end."

Murkowski sold the issue as one of access to medical care. "This is an effort by 700 people, a very small village, to be heard in the Congress of the United States. Let us see what our members have said about access to health care. Some have said access to health care is a right. I agree."

He also cited extensive testimony about people who had died as a result of being unable to leave King Cove during inclement weather.

But Bumpers said the bill set a horrible precedent for environmental preservation. "God just gave us one planet. He didn't say, `Go ahead and throw all the greenhouse gases you can into the atmosphere,'" he said.

Massachusetts Democrat Edward Kennedy also argued against the bill, saying that it was a waste of time. "We ought to spend our time addressing those issues which are of central importance and consequence and seriousness to the American people," he argued.

R 51-3; D 8-35.


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Credit Reform

On Sept. 28, the House voted 294-120 to instruct House conferees to vote in favor of a Senate proposal to prevent credit-card companies from dropping or charging extra fees to customers who pay their account balances in full each month.

New York Democrat Jerrold Nadler supported the measure. "Credit-card companies have told us that they need this bill to provide protection from irresponsible borrowers who abuse the bankruptcy system to evade debts they cannot repay," he said. "That is not true.... The practice some credit-card companies have engaged in is unconscionable. Some credit-card companies now discriminate against the most responsible borrowers by cutting off their credit or charging other fees to borrowers who commit the terrible sin of paying their bills in full and on time each month."

But Pennsylvania Republican George Gekas spoke against the proposal. "If we do not reform the bankruptcy bill, every consumer in the United States is faced with higher consumer costs, higher interest rates, higher cost of goods at the supermarket -- let alone the credit market," he said.

R 100-115; D 194-4; I 0-1.

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HHS/Labor Appropriations

On Oct. …

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