TOBACCO: Clinton Seeks Funding for Justice Dept. Suit
Seeking to persuade lawmakers to give the Justice Department sufficient funding to cover its lawsuit against the tobacco industry, President Clinton urged House members yesterday to let the "American people have their day in court," the Washington Post reports. Earlier this week the House voted against allowing the Veteran's Administration to contribute to a Department of Justice lawsuit against tobacco companies and then reversed the decision with a voice vote. Now, the House is working through a $35.5 billion proposal to finance the departments of Justice, Commerce and State. The Senate has not yet written its version of the bill. Attacking the cigarette industry, Clinton said, "The tobacco companies and their powerful allies in Congress are working overtime to pass special protections to shield them from financial responsibility for the harm they've caused. ... The legal responsibility of the tobacco companies should be decided by a judicial process, not by the political process." Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) is attempting to ease legislation that would prohibit interagency funding for the litigation, which seeks as much as $246 billion from the tobacco industry. Opponents of the litigation called efforts by Clinton and Waxman "election-year" maneuvering against an "unpopular target." Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.) said that the litigation supporters' goal is "to destroy, to eliminate, to wipe off the radar screen the tobacco industry, farmers and everyone connected with the industry" (Fram, 6/23).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.