McCain's Tobacco Bill Draws More GOP Fire
White House to use new smoking report to pressure Congress
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, April 26) -- Sen. John McCain, the
chief architect of a tobacco bill now making its way through
the U.S. Senate, said Sunday he still thinks legislation will
emerge from Congress this year that largely follows the
framework of his proposal.
But opposition to the Arizona senator's plan from within his
own Republican Party continues to build, with two key GOP
senators saying Sunday that his bill won't survive the
"I think Senator McCain deserves a lot of credit in getting a
bill out of the Commerce Committee," said Sen. Orrin Hatch,
R-Utah, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, on NBC's "Meet
The Press" "But virtually everybody knows that that cannot be
the final bill."
"I think it's going to have to be more stripped down in order
to pass," said Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., who is a member of
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott's tobacco task force, on
CBS's "Face The Nation."
White House to unveil minority smoking report
Meanwhile, CNN has learned that the Clinton administration
will use the release of a report on minority smoking Monday
to ratchet up pressure on Congress to enact tobacco
legislation this year.
Three sources familiar with the report, prepared by Surgeon
General David Satcher, tell CNN that it shows smoking among
African-American and Hispanic teen-agers is rising at rates
faster than smoking among white teen-agers.
The study links the increase to tobacco advertising and
sponsorships targeted at minority communities and events, the
Clinton is to accept the report from Satcher at a White House
Hatch: McCain bill will create black market
Hatch, who has called McCain's bill "pitiful," says Wall
Street analysts will testify at a Senate hearing Wednesday
that the draft, which calls for a $1.15-per-pack new tax on
cigarettes, will push prices to more than $5 per pack.
"Now can you imagine, that's an average of over $1,000 a year
for the 48 million people where the husband and wife smoke
one pack a day," said Hatch, who predicted that making
cigarettes that expensive will create a black market.
Hatch also said he thinks McCain's bill will force some
tobacco companies into bankruptcy, a claim the tobacco
industry has also made. But McCain, also speaking on "Meet
The Press," said he doesn't believe big tobacco's dire
"Remember, these are the same people that said they didn't
entice kids in America to smoke, and we found out they did.
These are the same people that said they didn't manipulate
the content of cigarettes in order to addict American
citizens [and] we found out they did," McCain said.
Coats: Tobacco money can't go for social spending
But Coats said Republicans won't be willing to raise tobacco
taxes -- and McCain's bill would raise them by more than $500
billion over 25 years -- unless the money were earmarked for
programs related to paying for the health-care costs of
tobacco or decreasing tobacco use.
"If [the money] is going to be spent on more of the
president's social spending programs or other programs not
related to tobacco, Republicans simply aren't going to go
along with it," Coats said. "We're not going to just simply
vote in billions more dollars to be spent on some of the
president's pet proposals."
Daschle: GOP chorus against bill comes from tobacco
McCain's bill passed the Commerce Committee, which he chairs,
by a vote of 19-1 -- a margin he said indicates how much
support his framework has among lawmakers.
But since then, five major tobacco companies have said they
won't go along with the bill, and a number of Republicans,
including House Speaker Newt Gingrich, have expressed
reservations about McCain's approach.
On Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-South
Dakota, said he thinks the newfound GOP criticism of McCain's
bill is the result of the decision by the tobacco companies
to fight it.
"Unfortunately, this may be a case, a classic case, of
following the money," Daschle said on "Face The Nation."
"It seems to me the tobacco companies have had too cozy a
relationship with Republican leadership for too long. And it
seems as soon as the tobacco companies chose to back away and
to get out of the deal, Republican leadership followed.
That's wrong," Daschle said.
Coats dismissed Daschle's charges as "election year partisan
CNN White House Correspondent John King contributed to this