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House Democrats Vow to Block Pipe Safety Rider

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 year."

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 said.

"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."

Rocco Canonica

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