Close to a million moms marched on Washington and other cities this Mothers Day, demanding sensible legislation out of Congress on the issue of gun safety. Their demands, backed by the vast majority of Americans according to all the polls, deserve support. But as a new report from Public Campaign, "Mothers, Money and Politics," shows, it is the everyday march of millions of dollars in campaign contributions that matter more on a host of issues of direct concern to mothers everywhere.
The report highlights how:
· Since 1997, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its allies have made political expenditures outweighing those of gun control groups by a ratio of almost twenty-three to one, $5.8 million to $258,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Last year, in the wake of the Columbine tragedy, Congress voted down proposals to require background checks for sales at gun shows-where three out of four of the weapons used at Columbine were bought.
The 44 senators who said "no" to background checks on three separate roll call votes over the course of a week in May 1999 were the beneficiaries, on average, of nearly 29 times more campaign cash from gun rights groups than the 40 senators who said "yes" to background checks on all three votes -- $23,340 v. $815. After the Senate finally approved a three-day waiting period for gun show purchases, the House took up the issue in June 1999. The 212 House members who voted the NRA's way on two separate roll call votes were the beneficiaries of 31 times more campaign cash from gun rights groups than the 189 members who voted in favor of background checks -- $11,195 v. $355.
· The House and Senate have both passed bankruptcy reform bills that will make it more difficult for women to collect child support, this at a time when women are the fastest growing group in the U.S. in filing bankruptcy. The senators who voted against an amendment that would have strengthened protections for child support in the legislation received $34,520 more, on average, from the banking and credit industry over six years than the senators who voted for stronger protection for children.
· Children are more vulnerable to the effects of pesticides than adults are. Bills that would require schools to adopt safer pest control methods are stalled in the agriculture committees, where the members receive far more contributions, on average, from the pesticide industry, than their colleagues. In the Senate, Agriculture Committee members received nearly six times the average received by other senators over six years. In the House, since 1997, committee members received, on average, 11 times more than other House members did.
· In 1998, the alcohol lobby defeated legislation, proposed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)-that would have required states to adopt stricter drunk-driving standards - or lose their highway and transit funding. During the 1998 elections, the alcohol industry gave $7.9 million to federal candidates and parties-MADD gave nothing.
· The tobacco industry has contributed at least $2.1 million so far toward the 2000 elections. A series of bills that would strengthen regulations against selling tobacco to minors are now stalled in congressional committees.