The House : Contra Aid

A parliamentary strategy to delay or kill President Reagan’s urgent request for $100 million more in aid to the rebels fighting Nicaragua’s Marxist Sandinista government was approved by the House on a vote of 212 for and 208 against.

This put in place a Democratic plan to attach the aid to a $1.7-billion appropriations bill (HR 4515) that was headed for a likely presidential veto. But Republicans later sidetracked the plan, leaving the issue of aid to the insurgents, known as contras, unresolved at week’s end.

Reagan and GOP leaders had opposed linking the aid to the appropriations bill and wanted separate consideration of the issue, in the hope that the House, in an uncluttered up-or-down vote, would accept a measure for aid to the rebels already approved by the Senate.

The last time the House took up the matter, in March, it narrowly rejected the President’s request for $70 million in military aid and $30 million in aid for non-lethal items. The issue is unlikely to return to the House floor before mid-May.


Lee H. Hamilton (D-Ind.), who supported the Democratic strategy, said that “the contras, even with this aid, have no chance of victory, and a stalemate will not pressure the Sandinistas to make fundamental reforms. . . . Present policy sets us on a course of no win and high risk.”

Opponent Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.) told Democrats that their strategy is “trivializing an issue of life or death (and) is a form of blackmail. You are saying, ‘Mr. Reagan, if you want your $100 million, it’s going to cost you $1.7 billion.’ ”

Members voting no supported the President’s request of $100 million in aid.



THHow They VotedYeaNayNovoteTDRep. Beilenson (D)xRep. Berman (D)xRep. Fiedler (R)xRep. Moorhead (R)xRep. Waxman (D)xET Construction Labor

A bill designed to strengthen the position of organized labor in the construction industry was passed by the House on a vote of 229 for and 173 against. The measure (HR 281), which was supported by the AFL-CIO and opposed by the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, was sent to the Senate. It makes it tougher for employers at construction sites to use non-union subsidiaries and affiliates to circumvent obligations imposed on them by collective bargaining agreements.

For example, it outlaws the practice of “double-breasting,” in which an employer with a collective bargaining agreement parcels out work to an affiliate whose employees are not unionized. To counter this, the bill defines multiple companies as a single employer for collective bargaining purposes, if they are tied together by ownership or certain other links within a given area.

Also, the legislation puts more time-consuming legal requirements in the way of construction workers seeking to vote to renounce a collective-bargaining agreement. Given the relatively short duration of construction jobs, the work is likely to be completed before a decertification election is held.


Supporters said the bill is needed to counter employers who attempt to evade collective bargaining agreements.

Opponents said existing law already is strong enough to deal with the problems in the construction industry cited by organized labor.

Members voting yes sided with organized labor and supported the bill.

How They Voted Yea Nay No vote Rep. Beilenson (D) x Rep. Berman (D) x Rep. Fiedler (R) x Rep. Moorhead (R) x Rep. Waxman (D) x