Jun. 20 2000
Washington, DC — Today's agreement in the House of Representatives to allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to help fund the Department of Justice lawsuit against the tobacco companies is a victory for America's taxpayers and veterans.
The debate in the House over the past two days has made two things clear. First, the effort to block funding for the lawsuit is about one thing only – granting special protection to Big Tobacco. And second, the Congressional leadership lacks the votes to block the lawsuit, and they certainly lack the votes to override a presidential veto. It is now time for the Congressional leadership to cease all efforts on all appropriations bills to block the Department of Justice lawsuit and allow it to be decided in a court of law. Provisions to cut off funding for the lawsuit remain in the House Commerce-Justice-State and Defense Appropriations Bills and in the Senate Agriculture Bill.
It is time that Congress join the Justice Department in seeking to hold the tobacco companies accountable for decades of deception about their deadly products and to recover the billions of dollars that Medicare, veterans health care, and other federal health programs have spent treating tobacco-related disease.