1999 Scorecard Vote
In recent years, Congress has increasingly used appropriations "riders" to enact environmentally damaging laws. These riders are attached to must-pass spending bills that are difficult for members of Congress to oppose or for the President to veto. This year, the Senate's version of the Fiscal Year 2000 Interior Appropriations bill included more than 20 anti-environment riders. When the Interior appropriations bill went to conference, Representative Norm Dicks (D-WA) offered an amendment to instruct House negotiators to reject riders that would "undermine efforts to protect and restore our cultural and natural resources."
The Dicks amendment also specifically instructed the House negotiators to reject a Senate rider that would allow unlimited dumping of "hard rock" mining waste on public lands (see Senate vote 1). The House had explicitly rejected a similar provision during its consideration of the Interior appropriations bill (see House vote 7).
On October 4, 1999, the House approved the Dicks motion to instruct by a vote of 218–199. YES is the pro-environment vote.
The House negotiators ignored the non-binding instructions and, after two weeks of discussions with the Senate, agreed to accept most of the Senate's riders, including the hard rock mining waste provision. The resulting Interior appropriations conference report contained numerous provisions that would have damaged the environment or rolled back public health and safety laws. These provisions would have:
- allowed grazing on millions of acres of public rangelands without appropriate environmental reviews;
- allowed the oil industry to avoid paying $66 - 100 million a year in royalties for drilling on public lands (see Senate votes 2 and 3);
- diverted funds intended for building national forest trails to the promotion of timber sales;
- allowed the secretaries of Agriculture and Interior to ignore wildlife resource data in managing national forests or Bureau of Land Management lands (see Senate vote 5);
- blocked the secretary of the Interior from protecting the Ozark National Scenic Riverways from proposed lead mining;
- delayed efforts to reduce noise pollution in Grand Canyon National Park; and
- subsidized increased logging in Alaska's Tongass National Forest.
On October 21, 1999, the House passed H.R. 2466 by a vote of 225–200. NO is the pro-environment vote. After President Clinton threatened to veto the bill, negotiators removed or revised many of the anti-environment riders.