By a one-vote margin, Congress failed Wednesday for the 16th straight time to override a veto by President Bush - this time killing the Civil Rights Act of 1990. Congress has never been able to override a Bush veto.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, led the fight for those supporting Bush as the Senate voted 66-34 to override - just 1 short of the two-thirds majority needed for an override. Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, was also among the all-Republican minority voting to support Bush.Despite the one-vote victory, Hatch insisted it was not a slim margin. "Thirty-four votes is not close. Anytime you have 34 senators come together against an alleged civil rights bill, you know there are problems with it because normally anything with `civil rights' on it flies through."
The bill originally passed the Senate with two votes more than necessary to prevent a veto override. But Hatch said the vote of Sen. Rudy Boschwitz, R-Minn., was lost when David Duke - former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard and Louisiana senate candidate - appeared in the Senate gallery during the vote. "He shouldn't have come. That was highly offensive," Hatch said.
Hatch insisted that the legislation was "not a civil rights bill - it's an employer-employee relations bill" that would result in racial hiring quotas by making it easier for workers to prove job bias against their employers in lawsuits.
But others, led by bill sponsor Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., said it would merely restore the job-bias law to the way it was before five recent, restrictive U.S. Supreme Court decisions. They accused Hatch and Bush of reneging on deals and of dividing the country along racial lines for partisan advantage.
Hatch said, "Pure and simple, take it from me, this is still a (racial) quota bill and it is still a bonanza for lawyers."
He said quotas would result from the bill that would make it easier for employees to prove bias - including showing bias exists if the mix of employees in a company doesn't match the racial mix of the population.