Tom DeLay, This is Your Life! Ten Years Ago Today...

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Tom DeLay, This is Your Life!

Wonder what Tom DeLay was doing to cut deals for special interest donors a year ago, five years ago, ten years ago? With a more than 20 years serving in Congress, the record is rich with examples. Join us for a frightening journey through time, as we expose these dastardly doings.

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Ten years ago today, as a member of the House Appropriations Committee, DeLay led the charge to push an amendment through committee that prohibited the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from encouraging car pools and enforcing rules for cleaner tailpipe emissions as ways for localities to meet clean-air standards. DeLay’s district in Houston was directly affected, as the town’s air was too dirty to meet federal standards. (source: Josh Johnson, “Emissions Delay Sails Through Committee,” Houston Chronicle, March 3, 1995, p. A2.)

This was just part of a full-on attack against the Clean Air Act spearheaded by Tom DeLay in those heady days after the GOP took over the Congress in ’94 and the House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) was selling his deregulatory “Contract With America”. Indeed, DeLay was lead sponsor on a bill during that Congress, (H.R. 479), to eliminate the popular law that cleaned up the nation’s skies, not to mention a whole host of other measures to weaken it.

Democrats managed to block many of these weakening changes after the infamous Washington government shutdown later that year, when then-President Bill Clinton refused to approve numerous spending bills with anti-environmental and anti-consumer measures.

But that doesn’t mean the air in Texas is any sweeter. Under DeLay’s watch, Houston and Dallas have are now among the nation’s 15 metro areas with the most deaths from air pollution from diesel-powered vehicles, according to a study released late last month by the Boston-based Clean Air Task Force. (source: “Dirty Diesels Kill Thousands Annually, Hundreds in Texas, Group Says,” Austin American-Statesman, February 23, 2005, p. B2)

Tom DeLay has taken nearly $600,000 from oil and gas interests since 1989, according to the non-partisan group, Center for Responsive Politics, making him the fourth top recipient among all House members. He also ranks fifth among House members for taking cash from the auto industry—nearly $280,000 since 1989.

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My colleague Nancy Watzman researched and wrote this installment. We're not sure how regularly we'll do it. But, if you have your own thoughts about items we should look at, leave them in the comments field below.