TAXPAYER WATCHDOG GROUP APPLAUDS HOUSE VOTE TO STOP WASTEFUL LAWSUIT | Citizens Against Government Waste

TAXPAYER WATCHDOG GROUP APPLAUDS HOUSE VOTE TO STOP WASTEFUL LAWSUIT

Press Release

For Immediate ReleaseContact: Jim Campi or Aaron Taylor
June 21, 2000(202) 467-5300

 

(Washington, D.C.) – In a statement issued today, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) applauded the House of Representatives for rejecting an amendment by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) that would have transferred money from the Veterans Affairs Department to the Justice Department to pursue tobacco litigation.

“Waxman has definitely gone off the deep end this time,” remarked CCAGW President Thomas A. Schatz.  “Veterans should not be forced to do without just so zealots like Waxman can indulge their hatred of the tobacco industry.”

Under the terms of the Waxman amendment, $4 million to $6 million would have been transferred from the fiscal 2000 VA-HUD spending bill to fund Justice Department litigation against the tobacco industry.  The amendment was rejected by the House, 197-207.

“The Veterans Affairs Department has enough demands on its budget without diverting its funds for yet another politically motivated government lawsuit,” said Schatz.  “Besides, politically motivated government lawsuits are the job of the Justice Department.”

The Clinton Administration’s willingness to put its anti-tobacco obsession ahead of veteran’s healthcare proves that the litigation has more to do with politics than public health.  The administration wants to recover funds for tobacco-related costs in Medicare and Medicaid, claiming consumers were not warned of the dangers of smoking.  This ignores the fact that the federal government required warning labels on cigarettes beginning in 1966 — just one year after Medicare and Medicaid were established.  Former Clinton aide Rahm Emanuel commented that if  “the White House hadn’t asked, [the Justice Department] would have never looked at [the tobacco suit] again.”  Apparently, justice has taken a back seat to political expediency in the Clinton Administration.

“Until a platoon of government lawyers comes under enemy fire in defense of American freedom, they should keep their hands off the Veterans Affairs budget,” Schatz concluded.  “It is incumbent upon the Senate to retain the language in the VA/HUD bill and for the House and Senate to support language in any other appropriations bill that precludes the transfer of funds to DOJ for any new tobacco litigation.  CCAGW will consider the Waxman vote and any similar amendment in its 2000 Congressional Ratings.”

CCAGW is the lobbying arm of Citizens Against Government Waste, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, mismanagement and abuse in government.

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