Removing Secrecy From Discharge Petitions

The House adopted a procedural measure (H Res 134) to make public the names of members signing a discharge petition. The petition is a device by which a majority of members (218) can force a reluctant committee to send a bill to the floor.

The vote ends the traditional practice of keeping petitioners' names secret until the majority threshold is crossed. The new openness will expose those members who claim to support a bill at the same time they condone its demise in committee. But critics say it will weaken the legislative process by making lawmakers more vulnerable to interest groups.

Supporter Dick Armey (R-Tex.) said a petitioner "who has not enough backbone to say no to a lobbyist does not belong in Congress. . . . A politician who fears sunlight is a walking argument for term limits."

Opponent Joe Moakley (D-Mass.) said the resolution "will contribute to the decline of the deliberative process and will allow narrow special-interest pressure groups to exert enormous leverage" on lawmakers.

The vote was 384 for and 40 against. A yes vote was to remove secrecy from discharge petitions.

How They Voted:

Rep. Becerra (D): Yea

Rep. Moorhead (R): Yea

Gun Safety Training Program

The House rejected an amendment to end a program that spends $2.5 million annually to help the National Rifle Assn. and private gun clubs teach shooting skills to young people. The Civilian Marksmanship Program, set up after the Spanish-American War, donates ammunition to participating clubs. The vote occurred during debate on the 1994 defense appropriations bill (HR 3116).

Amendment supporter Robert G. Torricelli (D-N.J.) said the program "is an indictment of our national priorities. This Congress has been unable to provide funding for children who are eligible for Head Start. Children go to school each day and there are no hot lunches, but we find $2.5 million to give them free ammunition."

Opponent Harold L. Volkmer (D-Mo.) said: "People who have spoken in favor of this amendment really come from a different world than those of us who have learned to use guns and use them rationally and use them legitimately. . . . I for one believe we need gun safety in the United States, and this program helps with gun safety."

The vote was 190 for and 242 against. A yes vote was to terminate the program.

How They Voted:

Rep. Becerra (D): Nay

Rep. Moorhead (R): Yea

Higher Grazing Fees for Ranchers

The House voted 314 to 109 in support of sharply higher government fees for ranchers who graze livestock on federal land in the West. The non-binding vote urged a House-Senate conference committee on the Interior Department's 1994 budget (HR 2520) to embrace an Administration plan to more than double the fees. The Senate voted recently to shelve the plan by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.

Supporter Mike Synar (D-Okla.) said: "The taxpayers of this country lost $1 billion into the Treasury during the decade of the '80s, subsidizing 2% of the cattle industry of this country. . . . It is time to give our western ranchers a good dose of free enterprise."

Opponent John T. Doolittle (R-Rockland) said: "The fees are reasonable. We are not giving a subsidy here, considering that the users have to build their own fences, provide their own water, plus buy their grazing permits."

A yes vote was for higher federal grazing fees.

How They Voted:

Rep. Becerra (D): Yea

Rep. Moorhead (R): Nay

Source: Roll Call Report Syndicate

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