1994 Scorecard Vote
Both Republican and Democratic presidents have asked Congress to give the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a stronger voice in government by transforming the agency into a new Department of the Environment that would be a part of the Cabinet.
Despite bipartisan support, however, radical opponents of environmental protection have been able to block legislation elevating EPA to the Cabinet. This year, opponents killed the House version of the elevation bill (H.R. 3425) by defeating a procedural move to protect the new Department from a swarm of hostile amendments.
Prior to voting directly on the substance of the EPA bill, the House took a procedural vote on whether to adopt the "rule" prepared by the House Rules Committee -- meaning it voted on rules for offering amendments and debating the bill. In this case, the rule (H. Res. 312) called for limiting amendments to those that addressed the new Department's administrative rules or structure; it barred policy amendments -- for example, those that would have restricted the Department's freedom to develop new policies for protecting public health and the environment.
An amendment introduced by Reps. John Mica (R-FL) and Karen Thurman (D-FL), for example, sought to force the Department to conduct expensive, time-consuming, and uncertain "risk assessment" and "cost-benefit" studies every time it wanted to improve health or environmental protections.
On February 2, 1994, the House rejected the rule by a vote of 191 - 227. YES is the pro-environment vote. As a result of this defeat, supporters of environmental protection withdrew the legislation, rather than open the door to amendments that would have paralyzed the new Department of the Environment.