House Dems pass anti-vaping bill that Trump will likely never sign
On Friday, the House of Representatives passed HR 2339 which aims to ban the sales of all flavored vaping products and tobacco cigarettes both online and via conventional brick-and-mortar venues. The bill will likely be met with immediate opposition in the Republican controlled Senate where Majority Leader Mitch McConnel often boasts of being the Grim Reaper of house-approved legislation by the democrats.
Even should the bill make it past McConnell’s desk and be approved by a senate majority, the chances of President Trump signing the bill into law are virtually zilch. POTUS has already signed an executive order in January 2020 which prohibits the sales of flavored vaping pods and cartridges. He’ll likely view the Democrats’ more aggressive proposal as a political slap in the face.
However, even many house democrats had difficulty in supporting the new anti-vaping legislation. Passing by a somewhat respectable margin of 213-195, democrats were clearly divided, with some claiming that the bill unfairly targets African Americans.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) were particularly vocal in their opposition. In an interview with The Hill, Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) issued the following statement.
“This legislation has dire, unintended consequences for African Americans. Law enforcement would have an additional reason to stop and frisk menthol tobacco users because menthol would be considered illegal under this ban.”
Her comments strongly imply negative connotations to Mike Bloomberg’s democratic presidential campaign. Bloomberg not only supports a federal ban on all vapor products – flavored or otherwise – but he also was instrumental in enforcing New York’s stop and frisk laws of the early 2000s. During his tenure as mayor from 2002-2013, city police officers stopped and questioned over five million black and Hispanic people – mostly male – whom they merely suspected were involved in criminal behaviors.
Congressional Black Caucus strongly opposes HR 2339
Clarke and other CBC members are afraid that implementing this particular piece of anti-vaping legislation will once again unduly target people of color because it is this very demographic that most frequently purchases menthol flavored cigarettes and vapor products. Including Rep. Clarke, a total of 17 democrats refused to vote for the bill, including:
- Anthony Brindisi (NY)
- K. Butterfield (NC)
- Lizzie Fletcher (TX)
- Marcia Fudge (OH)
- Jared Golden (ME)
- Kendra Horn (OK)
- Hank Johnson (GA)
- Conor Lamb (PA)
- Al Lawson (FL)
- Elaine Luria (VA)
- Ben McAdams (UT)
- Donald McEachin (VA)
- Collin Peterson (MN)
- Cedric Richmond (LA)
- Abigail Spanberger (VA)
- Bennie Thompson (MS).
Cracks in democratic support began to appear last week when the American Civil Liberties Union issued a letter clearly outlining its opposition to HR 2339. “We hope we can work together to avoid repetitions of policies that are intended to protect youth and communities of color, but instead only further engrain systemic criminalization and racism,” the letter states. House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi allowed the flavored vape ban proposal to move forward for a floor vote after citing full public support for HR 2339 by the NAACP, the National Medical Association, and the National Black Nurses Association.
Related Article: House votes next week to ban flavored vapes – including online sales
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