Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ahhh...Congress is back in session...

...and the House Republicans are already in mid-session form...

They're already hard at work safeguarding the interests of big business and blaming workers for everything.

Today, they were "fighting the good fight" for mine owners as House Democrats worked to address mine safety in the aftermath of the recent spate of deadly mine disasters, such as Crandall Canyon in Utah and Sago in West Virginia.

During consideration of H.R. 2768, the S-MINER Act (Supplemental Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response), House Republicans, led by Buck McKeon (R-CA), opposed every safety improvement as too onerous for mine owners and operators. In fact, the only 'safety improvement' that they supported (and supported strongly, at that) was an intensive drug testing requirement for mine workers.

Guess it's more fun to play "blame the victims" than it is to "govern responsibly."

Many of the Republican opponents of increased mine safety cited this Washington Post article from Sunday that chronicles a growing trend in West Virginia's mine country - painkiller addiction.

The Republicans so strongly favored increased drug testing they twice tried to wedge it into the bill, once in this amendment proposed by Joe Wilson (R-SC) (starting on page 2 of the .pdf) and in their standard 'motion to recommit with instructions', proposed by Mark Souder (R-IN).

The Wilson amendment also sought to water-down implementation of safety measures, substituting secrecy, studies and commissions for refuge chambers with emergency air supplies, flame-resistant conveyor belts, and transparency.

Note: The Wilson amendment failed by a vote of 188 - 229; the motion to recommit failed by a vote of 197 - 217, with the AZ delegation splitting along party lines for each vote.

In the end, the House passed the S-Miner bill by a vote of 214 - 199, with the AZ delegation again splitting along party lines.

As could be expected, the White House has threatened to veto the bill.

AP coverage here.

...I know that in this election year, the presidential campaigns are getting most of the attention from voters and the MSM (hey, even I think it's easier to focus on 10 or so candidates for 1 office than it is to focus on more than 900 candidates for the 468 House and Senate seats up for grab this year), we all need to remember that those seats are just as important as the Presidency, and those races are far more easily affected by local activists.

Whether it's for Harry Mitchell, Gabrielle Giffords, Raul Grijalva, Ed Pastor, Bob Lord, John Thrasher, or one of the Democrats looking to replace Rick Renzi (R-Mantech) in CD1, volunteer where you can, contribute where you can.

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