Strong Link Shown Between Senate Votes Against Tobacco Bill And Tobacco Political Contributions

New Scorecard Shows Which Senators Stood by America’s Kids; Which Failed To Protect Kids

Jul. 8 1998

Washington, DC - As the U.S. Senate returns from the July 4 recess, a new scorecard on the McCain anti-tobacco bill shows which Senators voted to protect kids from tobacco addiction and which Senators failed to declare their independence from the tobacco industry. According to an analysis of voting records and campaign contributions conducted by the CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS, Senators who voted consistently against the McCain bill took far more money from the tobacco industry than those who supported the bill. The CAMPAIGN today released a scorecard showing each Senator’s voting performance on key McCain bill votes,and the total tobacco industry campaign contributions each received over the last decade and in their last election cycles. The McCain bill is a comprehensive approach to tobacco control that was put aside by the Senate on June 17, when it fell three votes short of the 60 needed for cloture -- to cut off extended debate. Opponents thus prevented a vote on the bill on its merits. The bill would have imposed restrictions on youth access to tobacco, curtailed advertising that has the greatest influence on kids, created a public education campaign, raised the price of cigarettes to discourage tobacco use among children, confirmed the authority of the FDA to regulate tobacco, and more. The McCain bill, or other tobacco legislation, could still be considered during the remainder of this congressional session. The CAMPAIGN’s scorecard assigns each Senator a "Pro-Kid" score based on the critical cloture vote and the other McCain bill votes while the bill was being debated on the floor of the Senate, and provides figures on the tobacco campaign contributions each legislator received. The tobacco industry opposed the McCain bill and fought hard to defeat it. Senators who consistently voted against kids on proposed amendments to the bill, and more importantly, who worked to kill the legislation altogether by voting against cloture, took an average of more than four times the amount of campaign contributions from tobacco interests than those receiving strong Pro-Kid scores. Fifty Senators received Pro-Kid scores of 67 or better, with 19 of them supporting Pro-Kid votes 100 percent of the time. Those who voted Pro-Kid 100 percent of the time were Senators Boxer (CA), Durbin (IL), Moseley-Braun (IL), Kennedy (MA), Sarbanes (MD), Wellstone (MN), Baucus (MT), Conrad (ND), Dorgan (ND), Lautenberg (NJ), Bingaman (NM), Bryan (NV), Moynihan (NY), Wyden (OR), Specter (PA), Reed (RI), Johnson (SD), Leahy (VT) and Murray (WA). (Senator Specter’s score of 100 was based on his Pro-Kid positions on the scorecard’s first three votes, which took place before he became ill and was unable to vote on the others.) The following 31 additional Senators received a score of 67 or more and voted in favor of cloture: Bumpers (AR), Feinstein (CA), Dodd (CT), Lieberman (CT), Biden (DE), Graham (FL), Cleland (GA), Inouye (HI), Akaka (HI), Grassley (IA), Harkin (IA), Breaux (LA), Landrieu (LA), Kerry (MA), Mikulski (MD), Collins (ME), Snowe (ME), Levin (MI), Kerrey (NE), Torricelli (NJ), Reid (NV), D’Amato (NY), Glenn (OH), Smith (OR), Chafee (RI), Daschle (SD), Jeffords (VT), Feingold (WI), Kohl (WI), Byrd (WV) and Rockefeller (WV). "Nineteen Senators stood up to the tobacco industry and consistently voted for America’s kids, and 50 Senators received passing scores in their votes against Big Tobacco," said Bill Novelli, CAMPAIGN president. "Although the McCain bill did not pass, these Senators’ courage and independence have paved the way for strong legislation to again be brought forward in this session of Congress to save lives and protect kids from tobacco addiction." In contrast, 43 Senators who voted consistently with the industry’s positions received scores of 33 or below. An examination of campaign contributions revealed Senators with scores of 33 or below took an average of four times more tobacco industry money than those with strong Pro-Kid voting records. For the period from January 1, 1987 through the first quarter of 1998, the average tobacco campaign contribution for Senators scoring 33 or below on the McCain bill was $34,083, while Senators who scored 67 and above only accepted $8,108. Further, in their most recent election cycle, these Senators with scores of 33 or below received an average of $17,509 in tobacco campaign contributions, versus an average of $3,960 for their Pro-Kid, high-scoring colleagues. Of the 43 Senators with scores of 33 or below, 22 received scores of 14 or less (one or zero Pro-Kid votes), and not one of these 22 Senators voted in favor of cloture. Senators with Pro-Kid scores of 14 or less were Senators Stevens (AK), Sessions (AL), Kyl (AZ), Allard (CO), Coats (IN), McConnell (KY), Lott (MS), Cochran (MS), Burns (MT), Faircloth (NC), Helms (NC), Hagel (NE), Smith (NH), Nickles (OK), Thurmond (SC), Thompson (TN), Hutchison (TX), Hatch (UT), Warner (VA), Gorton (WA), Enzi (WY) and Thomas (WY). "Many of these Senators with poor Pro-Kid scores are so clearly indebted to the tobacco industry for its political contributions, that they did everything in their power to defeat tobacco control legislation," said Matthew L. Myers, executive vice president and general counsel of the CAMPAIGN. "These Senators were intent on killing this strong legislation, rather than working cooperatively to pass the best possible bill. Not one of them introduced an amendment to improve the bill. In opposing this bipartisan legislation, they ultimately opposed an effort that would have saved lives from tobacco." While the tobacco industry’s millions of dollars in political contributions helped to narrowly defeat the McCain bill, the opportunity for meaningful action remains alive. "Now that the Senate has returned from the July 4 recess, it is critical that legislators move forward quickly on tobacco legislation," said Myers. "There is clearly enough time left to get it done this year, and we look forward to the continued support of the Pro-Kid Senators. We also encourage those Senators who did not receive passing Pro-Kid scores to declare their independence from tobacco money and join us in working for comprehensive legislation to protect kids and save lives." The scorecard is based on eight key votes, including efforts to raise the price of tobacco, protect funding for critical public health programs, and most importantly, end debate and move the bill forward. Had it received the necessary 60 votes, the cloture motion taken on June 17 would have advanced the McCain bill, and signaled strong support for final passage. Because this vote stands out as the most important of the debate, it counts double in the scorecard. A copy of the scorecard follows. The campaign contribution data were compiled by Common Cause using Federal Election Commission reports. The CAMPAIGN will continue to monitor and make the public aware of important tobacco control votes in Congress. The Washington, DC-based CAMPAIGN FOR TOBACCO-FREE KIDS is the largest initiative ever undertaken to decrease youth tobacco use in the United States. Its mandate is to focus the nation's attention and action on keeping tobacco marketing from seducing children, and making tobacco less accessible to kids.

 

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