Friday, May 7, 1999

Kosovo splits isle
congressional team

By Pete Pichaske
Phillips News Service


WASHINGTON -- The nation was baffled last week when a divided House of Representatives held a series of seemingly contradictory votes on the Kosovo crisis.

Onlookers in Hawaii are probably just as baffled now by the unusually divided votes of their own representatives.

Normally one of the most united delegations in Congress, Hawaii lawmakers have split on the subject of Kosovo.

Last night, when the House voted to spend $13.1 billion on the war, Rep. Neil Abercrombie enthusiastically supported the spending while Rep. Patsy Mink voted against it.

Earlier this week, when the Senate voted down a proposal authorizing the president to use "all necessary force," including ground troops, in the war, Sen. Daniel Inouye voted for allowing the use of such force, Sen. Daniel Akaka voted against it.

And last week, when the House rejected a resolution calling for pulling U.S. troops out of Kosovo, Abercrombie voted against it, Mink voted for it.

For a delegation of like-minded Democrats that can go months without publicly disagreeing, it's been a disharmonious week.

In general, Inouye and Abercrombie have been more inclined to support the president in pressing the conflict; Akaka and Mink have been more inclined not to.

The most active member of the delegation on Kosovo has been Abercrombie.

He has traveled to Europe twice as part of a delegation seeking to get Russia involved in negotiations to end the fighting, a position since adopted by the administration.

"It is in everybody's interest to have this thing end," said Abercrombie earlier this week.

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