[GRRN] Lobbyists rush Capitol as Congress moves toward adjournment

Fri, 12 Nov 1999 04:38:06 EST

TO: GreenYes List Serve

FROM: Lance King

DATE: November 12, 1999

RE: Key issues for us before Congress; Lobbyists push last minute
special interest goodies (see Washington Post)

Congress is rushing toward decisions on spending hundreds of billions of
dollars in Fiscal Year 2000, with scant public review and little regard for
process. While this is neither new or startling, it often makes for very bad
public policy.

This morning's Washington Post (November 12, 1999) carries a page 1 story
about lobbyists seeking goodies from Congress in the last minute rush to
adjourn. An excerpt follows this message and the complete story is available
at www.washingtonpost.com (go to print edition via hot link).

>From GRRN's perspective and that of key allies, key issues are still in play.
Calls, e-mail and faxes to House members are appropriate this morning and
the Senate is coming back Monday and Tuesday (November 15-16).

1. Environmental riders: Express general opposition to 'environmental
riders' in the Interior Appropriations Bill (not yet sent to the president)
and copy President Clinton and Vice President Gore. Also please e-mail or
fax me a copy.

Many of the riders involve expanding subsidies or weaken current
environmental laws. Details can be obtained from Taxpayers for Common Sense,
Friends of the Earth or U.S. PIRG.

The Clinton Administration has said it intends to veto the Interior
Appropriations Bill if it reaches his desk in its present form.

2. America Recycles Day and GRRN project "Challenge Congress to Recycle"
--- Congress remains the last major institution in the nation ignoring
responsibility for its waste. We have an opportunity to communicate the
America Recycles Day 'buy recycled' message to Congress and its staff over
the next 3 days. The message is simple:

"Dear Senator or Representative __________,

I am wirting to urge you and your colleagues in Congress to join in
the third America Recycles Day on Monday, November 15 by pledging to increase
personal and office recycling, and by purhcasing recycled products whenever

More than 150 million Americans recycle everyday at home or the
office. While I have been disappointed to read news stories that recycling
in Congress has broken down, now is a good time to recommit to recycling and
buying recycled.

Recycling is the largest grassroots movement for civic responsibility
and environmental protection in the nation over the last ten years. While
most of the leadership on this issues has come at the local and state level,
the federal government (Congress and the Executive Branch) play a vital role
as well.

The GrassRoots Recycling Network, a 3 year old national nonprofit
orgainzation advocating public and private policies to achieve "zero waste",
launched a project called "Challenge Congress to Recycle". Last spring, the
group and its allies began raising this issue with selected House members
when Congressman Sam Farr offered his recycling resolution (which now has 60
co-sponsors in the House).

I'm not trying to point fingers. This is not a partisan issue. Few
activities in our country today unite as many Americans as recycling.

So take the pledge to recycle and 'buy recycled' on America Recycles
Day. Just go to the Internet and log on at www.americarecyclesday.org to
sign the pledge.

By the way, tell your constituents about the opportunity to take the
pledge and enter the America Recycles Day contest to win an American Dream
House (3 bedrooms, 2 baths) made primarily from recycled materials.
Entry is free and open to anyone taking the recycling pledge.

Thank you in advance for considering this simple request. Please
send me a letter regarding what action you take. You can take the pledge up
to November 20, even if you are too busy today with the last minute efforts
to wrap up the budget and other pressing business.


Your name

3. Portion of Washington Post article follows:

Print Edition
Today's National
Inside "A" Section
Front Page Articles

On Our Site
Top News/Breaking
Politics Section
National Section

Lobbyists' Rush Hour On the Hill
Special Interests Take Advantage of Year-End Pressure
By Dan Morgan and Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, November 12, 1999; Page A01

With more than a half-dozen major bills teetering on the brink of final
congressional action, lobbyists for a variety of corporate interests are
trying to take advantage of the confusion to secure provisions that might
have gone nowhere in more leisurely and open proceedings.

On Tuesday, a coalition that includes Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc. won the
backing of the House Ways and Means Committee for repeal of a Civil War-era
tax on stores that sell beer, wine and spirits. A day later, lobbyists for
Hollywood studios, cable television giants and professional sports leagues
rushed to Capitol Hill to defend a last-minute legislative change that, they
say, could prevent unauthorized poaching on their turf and products by
Internet companies.

At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, officials of electric utility
companies cited recently by the Clinton administration for violations of the
Clean Air Act gathered at the Willard Hotel to consider ways to win
last-minute relief. They were hoping to obtain wording in one of several
pending spending bills to allow them to keep operating without being exposed
to additional criminal or civil penalties, sources said.

The opportunities for skilled lobbyists arise from a crushing end-of-session
agenda that has forced GOP leaders to press ahead simultaneously with dozens
of initiatives and created a cover for favor-seekers. Congress could finish
work in the next few days on five annual spending bills, a bankruptcy bill
and a bill setting rules for satellite television broadcasters. At the same
time, GOP leaders are looking for vehicles on which to attach tax, minimum
wage and Medicare initiatives.

"The special-interest sharks are circling, and we're concerned the end result
of this last-minute feeding frenzy will be more air and water pollution, and
taxpayers footing the bill for risky development," said U.S. Public Interest
Research Group staff attorney Lexi Shultz. In particular, she cited efforts
by West Virginia mining interests to win exemptions from environmental laws
and a push by big insurance companies for federal protections from
catastrophic losses.

"All of the agendas that were unable to move forward through the past year
because they're not popular or politically supportable are being addressed in
the back door of the budget process without public hearing, public debate or
open voting," said Greg Wetstone of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

(complete article at www.washingtonpost.com)