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Florida delegation splits on rights bill

Here's how Florida's congressional delegation voted on key issues last week: Resurrecting one of the most contentious issues of 1990, the House on Wednesday passed a civil rights bill, but not by the margin sponsors of the legislation had hoped for. The 273-158 tally fell 17 short of the 290 votes needed to override an expected presidential veto.

The bill would reverse five 1989 Supreme Court cases that limited the ability of individuals to sue businesses for discrimination in hiring and promotion. President Bush has contended the legislation would result in hiring quotas for minorities and women and said he would veto the bill.

The Senate will act next on the legislation, which would for the first time permit women, the disabled, and members of religious minorities to receive punitive damages in job-discrimination lawsuits.

Presently, only victims of race discrimination may receive such damages.

Defending the measure against "quota bill" charges, Democratic supporters said the legislation contains explicit language outlawing the use of quotas and accused Republicans of exploiting fears of racial quotas for their own political gain.

"The president and his party are looking to play the race card whenever it turns up in their hand," said Vic Fazio, D-Calif. "This bill, however, takes the quota issue, the race card, out of that hand in 1992."

Opponents insisted that employers would turn to hiring minorities and women by numbers to protect themselves from legal action.

"The circular logic contained in this legislation will do more than force quotas, it will clog our already overburdened legal system with thousands of lawsuits," said John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Voting to pass the civil rights bill: Peterson (D), Bennett (D), Gibbons (D), Bacchus (D), Johnston (D), Ros-Lehtinen (R), Smith (D), Lehman (D), Fascell (D).

Voting against: Hutto (D), James (R), McCollum (R), Stearns (R), Young (R), Bilirakis (R), Ireland (R), Lewis (R), Goss (R), Shaw (R).

House restores financing for the space station. Reversing a committee decision a week earlier to kill financing for a space station, the House June 6 approved, 240-173, an amendment restoring $1.9-billion for the program in fiscal year 1992.

The amendment to a bill financing NASA and other agencies would rescue the $40-billion space station Freedom project by freezing other NASA financing at current levels and cutting $217-million in federal housing subsidies.

Supporters of the amendment said the station was vital to the nation's space program and its mission to remain a technological leader in the world. Sponsors said the project would result in many medical and scientific advances.

"If we want to become a second-class nation, kill the space program, kill the space station, kill it all," said Jack Brooks, D-Texas.

Opponents argued the space station would have to be funded at the expense of every other NASA program. Critics also pointed to the rising costs of the program, and claimed Congress eventually would have to decide between big ticket science projects and domestic initiatives.

"Big science is really knocking out little science here," said Bob Traxler, D-Mich. "The space station is going to eat your dinner next year."

Voting to finance the space station program: Hutto (D), Peterson (D), Bennett (D), James (R), McCollum (R), Stearns (R), Gibbons (D), Young (R), Bilirakis (R), Ireland (R), Bacchus (D), Lewis (R), Goss (R), Shaw (R), Fascell (D).

Voting against: Johnston (D), Ros-Lehtinen (R), Smith (D), Lehman (D).

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