Senate condemns Clinton for FALN clemency
September 14, 1999
Web posted at: 6:09 p.m. EDT (2209 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly condemned President Bill Clinton for his offer to grant clemency to 16 Puerto Rican nationalists, leaving the White House squarely alone in backing the reduction of sentences.
By a 95-2 vote, the Senate passed a resolution of condemnation, joining the House in publicly criticizing the president for the clemency offer. Even first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, widely expected to seek a Senate bid in New York, has opposed the clemency offer.
The vote came after several hours of Senate debate in which criticism of Clinton's action was nearly continuous. "There is a very real human face on this issue," Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas). He outlined a series of terrorist incidents tied to FALN in the 1970s, referring to the organization as "a group of brutal murderers calling themselves a liberation army."
The Senate began limited debate on the resolution Tuesday morning. On Monday, the Senate approved a motion clearing the way for a vote on the resolution.
Some of the jailed FALN members who accepted clemency were released late last week.
Ninety-three Democrats voted for a similar resolution in the House last week, which passed 311-41.
Republican aides admit privately there is very little Congress can do, since granting clemency is a constitutional power of the president, but they say senators want to be on record opposing the move.
Tuesday, September 14, 1999