1978 Scorecard Vote
Authorization bill H.R. 8533. The vote is on the Ullman motion to suspend the rules and adopt a resolution agreeing to the bill together with a Senate amendment to impose a tax on barge fuel. The bill authorized construction of a new Lock and Dam 26 on the Mississippi River at Alton, Illinois. The barge fuel tax would begin at 4 cents a gallon in October 1980 and rise to a maximum of 10 cents a gallon after September 30, 1985. The bill looks superficially like a trade-off for environmentalists, who oppose Lock and Dam 26 but want a tax to make barges pay the cost of the federal waterways they use. But it was a poor trade-off because the taxes were mere tokens that would have covered only 15% of the future costs of the barge canals (both maintenance and new construction). The Senate had earlier passed a much tougher tax bill. Construction of Lock and Dam 26 would be the first step in making the Upper Mississippi a superhighway for barges. It involves dredging a 12 foot channel, widening and deepening the existing waterway. In the process it would destroy two national wildlife refuges and many other wetlands along the river which are an essential part of the Mississippi flyway for migratory birds. The bigger canal would also cost the railroads several million dollars in lost revenue every year. They can serve the same transportation needs with much less damage to the environment. The Administration supported Ullman. Motion agreed to 287-123. October 13, 1978. NO is the correct vote.