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Roll Call

The House

September 21, 1989

Flag Desecration

By a vote of 380 to 38, the House passed a bill (HR 2978) setting criminal penalties for "whoever knowingly mutilates, defaces, burns or tramples upon any flag of the United States. . . ." The bill outlaws physical abuse of the American flag but not political condemnation of it. It applies to the actual flag, not to representations of the national symbol.

The measure, which was sent to the Senate, is a response to the U. S. Supreme Court ruling in June that desecration of the flag is a form of dissent protected by the Constitution. Both the House and Senate also plan to vote this year on whether to protect the integrity of the flag by constitutional amendment instead of statute.

Supporter Mike Synar (D-Okla.) said he supported the statute approach because "the vast majority of Americans always will respect the flag and do not need a constitutional amendment to teach them that respect."

Opponent James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) said: "It is far better to undertake a procedure we are confident will cure the problem, a constitutional amendment."

Members voting yes supported the Flag Protection Act of 1989.

How They Voted Yea Nay No Vote Rep. Moorhead (R) x Rep. Roybal (D) x Rep. Waxman (D) x

Arts Funding Debate

By a vote of 264 to 153, the House took a procedural step against lawmakers wanting a sweeping reduction in federal support of art they deem offensive. This occurred as the House debated positions it should take in a House-Senate conference on an appropriations bill (HR 2788) covering the National Endowment for the Arts and other agencies.

The vote prevented a direct House vote on whether to go along with tough Senate language on federal funding of art that some see as morally offensive. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) wrote the Senate measure in response to the endowment's funding of projects that yielded photography of homosexual acts, naked children and a crucifix immersed in urine. The Helms amendment sought to ban federal funding to promote or produce art judged to be obscene, indecent or blasphemous.

Members voting yes wanted to block a direct vote on the merits of the Senate-passed Helms amendment.

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

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