TOBACCO: House Passes Voice Vote on Lawsuit Funding
Reversing Monday's decision, the House voted orally yesterday not to block funding for the Justice Department's lawsuit against the tobacco industry, the Los Angeles Times reports. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) presented the amendment to allow the Department of Veteran Affairs to spend $4 million from general administration accounts to help the Justice Department pay for tobacco litigation, which seeks to make the five major cigarette manufacturers responsible for the cost of caring for sick smokers. "This is a victory for today," William Corr, executive vice president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said. But, Corr warned, "Until the congressional leadership ceases all efforts ... to block the lawsuit, it's not over." House Republicans said yesterday that they were accepting Waxman's amendment because there was no longer any risk that the money for the lawsuit would come from the VA's medical services accounts, which they had argued should be reserved exclusively for veterans services. The GOP pointed out that yesterday's reversal was only a voice vote, warning that it offered little indication of whether the DOJ would actually be given all the funds it needs to pay for its lawsuit. Still, the DOJ views the reversal as a "gratifying step." Spokesperson Myron Marlin said, "This is a very positive development in our effort to afford the American taxpayers a day in court" (Rubin, 6/21).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.