WASHINGTON—After weeks of debates, concessions, and committee hearings, the U.S. Senate finally passed legislation Tuesday to rent the 1989 action-comedy Tango & Cash.
The bill, known as H.R. 5806, or the Kagen-Delahunt Tango & Cash Rental Act, allocated $3, plus a further 17 cents for local sales tax, to rent a VHS tape of the Sylvester Stallone–Kurt Russell buddy vehicle from the Capitol Video off Dupont Circle.
"This important bill was a long time coming," sponsoring representative Steve Kagen (D-WI) said to reporters after the vote. "I salute my Republican colleagues for displaying a spirit of compromise and for doing their part to help Congress procure the slam-bang, rip-roaringly funny antics of heroic LAPD narcotics detectives Ray Tango and Gabriel Cash, two good cops looking to take their revenge on villainous drug lord Yves Perret, deliciously portrayed by the late, great Jack Palance."
"No more stalling," Kagen added. "The time to rent this film is now."
The bill was first introduced to the House on Aug. 2 by Kagen and Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-MA), who proposed that the film was an entertaining and sorely underrated blend of white-knuckle thrills and playful buddy humor that has almost certainly held up over the years.
Other points presented in favor of the bill included the film's stylish opening sequence, which cleverly introduces Stallone's straitlaced Tango and Russell's bad boy Cash in an enjoyable pair of character-establishing scenes; the disarming, Odd Couple–esque interplay of the two stars as they vie to become Los Angeles' No. 1 cop; and a young Teri Hatcher's sassy, sultry turn as an exotic dancer who finds herself in hot water.
Proponents of the bill also noted that the scene where they acquire a fully-armored assault vehicle from Cash's personal weapons specialist was awesome.
Many Republicans, however, initially opposed the bill, calling it a grossly unnecessary expenditure of federal funds.
"I would like to go on record as saying that renting the film is wrongheaded and irresponsible since it will almost certainly be airing on TNT at some point in the near future," argued House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), who suggested renting a different movie, such as Big Trouble In Little China, or simply borrowing the Treasury Department's copy of The Last Boy Scout. "Throwing taxpayer dollars at this frankly formulaic and clichéd actioner would amount to a monumental act of waste, pure and simple."
Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) was among the few Republicans to cross the aisle into pro-Tango territory early in the legislative process, but she reversed her position upon learning she had confused the film with the 1989 Tom Hanks comedy Turner & Hooch.
According to sources on Capitol Hill, Senate Democrats were only able to garner the votes necessary to send the bill to the president's desk after a series of backroom deals. One of the staunchest Republican holdouts, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), finally put aside his objections to the film when a $37 million rider to overhaul Tennessee's municipal parking garages was attached to the bill, giving it a filibuster-proof 60 votes.
President Obama, who is expected to sign the bill by week's end, applauded its passage as a model of bipartisan cooperation.
"This proves that the system works," the president told reporters at a press briefing. "Despite our ideological differences, Democratic and Republican leaders can find common ground and agree on an important piece of legislation like this without the process becoming, to quote the unstoppable Detective Ray Cash, 'F.U.B.A.R.'"
Congress announced it would be holding a special screening of Tango & Cash this Friday evening at 6:30 p.m. in the House Chamber. Snacks and soft drinks will be provided.