Journal Star

May 10, 2003

LaHood skips tax-cut vote -- Congressman has important dinner
commitment in Peoria


DORI MEINERT
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill. (Peoria), missed the final vote
Friday on a $550 billion tax cut package supported by President Bush.

LaHood said he would have voted to pass the bill had he not been pressed for
time to catch a plane. LaHood, who had qualms about an earlier version of
the package that he ultimately supported, said he obtained House Republican
leadership permission to leave to attend what he described as an important
dinner in Peoria.

''I told them all along that I would support it,'' LaHood explained. ''I
have a very significant dinner that I made a commitment to be back home for.
If I would have waited, I wouldn't have been able to get back.''

He said he told the House leaders that he would stay if they needed his
vote.

''They said they had the votes to pass it,'' LaHood added.

The bill was approved, 222 to 203, largely along party lines. Ten House
members including LaHood were absent for the final vote.

LaHood said he had no concerns about the tax-cut package itself.

''A year from now, the issue in the presidential campaign is going to be the
economy. The president feels he needs this package in order to jump-start
the stock market and jump-start the economy. I want to give him that
opportunity ... that's the reason I was going to vote for it,'' LaHood said.

In March, LaHood voted for a budget resolution that included $726 billion in
tax cuts despite his concerns over war costs and a rising federal deficit.
Earlier Friday, he voted with other Republicans to support the rule
governing the debate.

On Friday night, LaHood planned to attend a private dinner hosted by the
president of Cubs Foods, who planned to contribute to the Race for the Cure
being held today in Peoria.

Other Illinois House members voted along party lines, Republicans for and
Democrats against the tax cut package.