1993 Scorecard Vote
The House and Senate are on the verge of overhauling the 1872 Mining Law, an anachronism that provides few environmental standards or requirements for repairing lands damaged by a century of hard rock mining. Today, private mining companies pay virtually nothing to obtain publicly owned minerals. Seeking to strengthen the outdated law, the House in late 1993 passed H.R. 322 (see House vote No. 3), supported by both the administration and environmentalists. The Senate-passed version, S. 775, is backed by the mining industry and some Western senators. A conference committee will try to strike a compromise in early 1994.
In its initial fiscal 1994 budget proposal to Congress, the Clinton administration had made its own effort to receive fair value for the public's minerals, reduce the deficit, and move toward mining reform: the original Clinton budget proposed a 12.5% royalty for hard rock mining on public lands. But Western senators strongly objected and pressured the White House to drop the royalty. Accordingly, Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) tried to amend the budget with S. Res. 18, which would have reduced the amount the Energy and Natural Resources Committee was instructed to raise in fiscal 1994. As Chair of the Budget Committee, Sen. Jim Sasser (D-TN) saw this move as an attempt to undercut the Senate's obligation to reduce the budget deficit, and therefore opposed the amendment.
Sen. Sasser moved to table (kill) S. Res. 18. The motion was agreed to 61-38. YES is the pro-environmental vote.