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U.S. House Defeats Live-Fire Requirement

by Ivonne Garcia

May 19, 2000
Copyright © 2000 PuertoRicoWOW NEWS SERVICE. All Rights Reserved.

In a 218-201 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved an amendment by Democratic Missouri Rep. Ike Skelton that defeated attempts by Florida Republican Tillie Fowler to require resumption of live fire practices in the island municipality of Vieques.

Jeffrey Farrow, President Clinton’s aide on Puerto Rico at the White House, said the Skelton amendment restored the president’s directives to their original state.

"This is a significant victory for the agreement [between Clinton and Gov. Pedro Rossello], and it shows the wisdom of the comprise reached between the president and the governor," Farrow said late Thursday.

Fowler had been successful in tacking on her live-fire requirement to a defense spending bill considered by the House Armed Services Committee that contained the directives issued by Clinton on Vieques.

Clinton’s orders, which must be approved by the U.S. Congress, limited the U.S. Navy to non-explosive ammunition, assigned $40 million for economic development in Vieques and provided for the transfer of 8,200 acres of land in the western side of the island municipality to the Puerto Rico government.

Fowler and other Republican conservatives had opposed the directives, conditioning them to the resumption of live-fire practices in Vieques, and limiting the use of the western area lands. Fowler’s version of the bill also banned the U.S. Navy from returning their land in the eastern side, which they are scheduled to exit by 2003 under Clinton’s orders.

Farrow said the bill now moves to the U.S. Senate, where it should be considered next week.

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