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Roll Call

The House

November 16, 1989

Raise Debt Ceiling

By a vote of 269 to 99, the House gave final congressional approval to legislation (HJR 280) raising the public debt limit from $2.8 trillion to $3.12 trillion. The new ceiling is expected to hold until October, 1990, when the government likely will need additional borrowing authority to avoid default. The bill also repealed the disputed "Section 89" tax provision that has kept employers from deducting fringe benefits that are provided only to selected employees.

Supporter Bill Archer (R-Tex.) said, "As unpalatable as raising the debt limit might be, the financial security of the nation must override our reluctance" to do so.

No member spoke against the resolution during a brief floor debate.

Members voting yes wanted to raise the public debt ceiling.

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

Approve Defense Budget

By a vote of 236 to 172, the House approved the conference report on the fiscal 1990 defense budget of $305 billion. The bill (HR 2461) makes 1990 the fifth straight year in which the Pentagon budget, adjusted for inflation, has declined. The Senate was expected to send the legislation to President George Bush.

The bill drew an ideological mixture of opponents. Conservatives disliked it because it cut deeply into the "Star Wars" Strategic Defense Initiative and ignored many of President Bush's weapons priorities, while liberals said it kept defense spending too high at a time of improving relations with the Soviet Union and insoluble budget problems at home.

In part, the bill funds construction of two B-2 Stealth bombers at a cost of at least $500 million each, includes money for both the rail-based Minuteman and truck-borne Midgetman missile systems, requires the Pentagon to purchase against its wishes a number of V-22 Osprey and F-14D aircraft at a cost of several hundred million dollars, and cuts SDI spending to $3.8 billion or $300 million under the previous year's level.

Members voting yes supported the bill.

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

Oil Spill Liability

By a vote of 279 to 143, the House adopted an amendment enabling states to set oil spill liability standards that exceed federal standards. The amendment was attached to a bill (HR 1465) establishing a uniform federal system of liability and compensation for spills in navigable waters. The bill is a response to last March's Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska. It was sent to conference with the House.

The vote kept HR 1465 from preempting the ability of states to go beyond federal ceilings set in the bill and impose unlimited liability on oil companies and shippers responsible for spills.

Sponsor George Miller (D-Martinez) said his amendment affirms "a fundamental right of the states" to protect their environments.

Opponent John Hammerschmidt (R-Ark.) said federal preemption solves the problem of "a patchwork of overlapping and conflicting laws which may actually impede prompt payment of justifiable claims."

Members voting yes wanted to preserve state authority to set unlimited oil spill liability standards.

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

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