House Democrats Vow to Block Pipe Safety Rider
Reps. James L. Oberstar (D-MN), John D. Dingell (D-MI) and David R.
Obey (D-WI) sent letters to President Clinton and House Democratic Minority
Leader Richard A. Gephardt last week urging rejection of an effort to include
the Senate's pipeline safety bill (S. 2438) as a rider to an appropriations
bill or other "must-pass" legislation.
On Oct. 10, the House considered the bill, but it failed by a substantial
margin with almost three-fourth of House Democrats present voting against
the measure (see NGI, Oct. 16).
"Members opposing the bill believe it would do little to improve
pipeline safety because, under the Senate bill, most safety improvements
would be left to the discretion of the Department of Transportation,"
the Congressmen said in their letters. "Furthermore, opponents of
the Senate bill believe that passage of the S. 2438 would make it extremely
difficult to pass the necessary stronger pipeline safety legislation next
The Congressmen noted that the Senate bill is opposed by environmental
groups and the families who lost loved ones in recent pipeline safety accidents.
The House Democrats said they are "willing to work out a compromise
in which the Senate bill would be strengthened." But given the time
remaining, that is unlikely. "We believe that the willingness of supporters
of the Senate bill to agree to a compromise will be greatly enhanced if
you make it clear that you will oppose efforts to add S. 2438... as a ride
to an appropriations bill or other 'must-pass' legislation," they
"We've been told we have their support," a Dingell press aide
said on Friday. "The White House and leadership are on board."
He said the latest word on the 106th congressional session is that it is
expected to end Oct. 26, "but I don't believe it for a second. Nothing
is getting done. Appropriations people don't see any progress being made."
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