House Reinstates "Social Riders" in District of Colombia Appropriations Bill 7/30/99

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items

more...

recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed

SUBSCRIBE TODAY!!!

Taylor West, [email protected]

Celebrations over last week's victories in the House Appropriations Committee disintegrated Thursday as riders to ban the use of local funds for needle exchange and for a medical marijuana initiative were tacked on to the District of Columbia spending bill during debate on the House floor.

Both of these riders were removed last week in the House Appropriations Committee through amendments offered by Representative James P. Moran (D-VA). However, each was reentered into debate on the House floor Thursday. Representative Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) sponsored the amendment to ban all public funding of needle exchange in the District; it passed by a vote of 241-187. Perennial Drug War hawk Bob Barr (R-GA) continued his crusade against DC's 1998 public referendum on medical marijuana, sponsoring an amendment to disallow the implementation of medical marijuana measures, should such measures be accepted by the will of the DC voters. The votes themselves have as yet to be counted, having been impounded by a Barr amendment to last year's DC budget. Barr's amendment to this year's budget passed Thursday by a voice vote, meaning individual Congresspersons' votes were not recorded.

The Tiahrt amendment underwent a full hour of debate on the floor before an inconclusive voice vote was taken. The roll call vote was postponed until later in the afternoon. When that vote was taken, 201 Republicans and 40 Democrats elected to deny DC the right to use its own funds to finance a needle exchange in the city. (See how your rep voted at http://clerkweb.house.gov/cgi-bin/vote.exe?year=1999&rollnumber=344.)

This year's Barr amendment took a slightly different approach than the one added to the DC budget last year. Last year, the budget forbade the use of any funds to count and certify the initiative. The ballots have been impounded since the referendum took place in November. This year's amendment allows the votes to be counted, but immediately overturns any result in favor of decriminalizing the medical use of marijuana. Under normal circumstances, if the initiative passed, the House, the Senate, and the Presidential administration would have 30 days in which to legislatively block it. If any one of those three bodies did not sign on, the initiative would become law. Barr's amendment supplants that review process by creating an automatic block. It passed by an uncounted voice vote after approximately 20 minutes of debate.

DC Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) expressed dismay at the attachment of these riders, both on the floor during debate and in a press release following the votes. Addressing the Tiahrt amendment in the press statement, she remarked, "The prohibition on using our own funds to save the lives of our own people was unconscionable. We can't live with that result because kids and adults won't live if we do." On the floor, she praised DC Mayor Anthony Williams and the DC City Council for creating a responsible, balanced budget that included "prudent investments" in human services. "Their work should not be undermined by the imposition of the personal preferences of Members [of Congress] on a local jurisdiction when Members are not accountable to local voters."

The struggle over DC's spending rights will continue as a conference committee attempts to resolve the differences between House and Senate versions of the bill. The Senate included neither of these social riders in the draft that they passed. A final resort lies in the possibility for a presidential veto. The Clinton administration supports the right of localities to operate needle exchanges and has stated its displeasure at the DC budget riders.

-- END --
Link to Drug War Facts
Please make a generous donation to support Drug War Chronicle in 2007!          

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Issue #101, 7/30/99 House Reinstates "Social Riders" in District of Colombia Appropriations Bill | New Mexico Republicans Stop Short of Repudiating Governor | Jamaica: Lawmakers Consider Decriminalization of Marijuana, Medical Marijuana Research Facility | Clinton Administration Proposes Changes to Methadone Regulations | Army Spy Plane Disappears Over Colombia, Speculation of Coming US Intervention Abounds | Australian State to Open Legal Heroin Injecting Room | DEA Chief Acknowledges Agency's Ineffectiveness | Newsbriefs | Senate Considering Raising Methamphetamine Penalties | Editorial: Body Bags
Mail this article to a friend
Send us feedback on this article
This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
Chronicle archives
Subscribe now!
Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en EspaŮol Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em PortuguÍs Latest News Drug Library Search
special friends links: SSDP - Flex Your Rights - IAL - Drug War Facts

StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 [email protected]