House Repeals Ergonomics Rules, Bush Expected to Sign
The House, "follow[ing] the lead taken by the Senate less than 24 hours earlier," yesterday voted 223-206 to repeal ergonomics regulations
issued by the Clinton administration and promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in January, the Washington Post reports. The measure will now go to President Bush, who indicated Tuesday that he intends to sign it (Dewar/Skrzycki, Washington Post, 3/8). In a mostly party-line vote similar to the one in the Senate, all but 13 Republicans -- all from districts with "heavy union representation" -- supported the repeal of the rules, while all but 16 Democrats voted in favor of keeping the regulations (Kuhnhenn, San Jose Mercury News, 3/8).
The votes in the House and Senate came after "intense" lobbying by business groups, who argued that the regulations would create compliance costs of $100 billion a year, as well as organized labor groups, who argued that the regulations would help reduce the number of workplace injuries. During the debate yesterday, Republicans and Democrats echoed these positions, respectively (Espo, AP/Nando Times, 3/7). Rep. Anne Northrup (R-Ken.), a co-sponsor of the House bill, said, "You're creating an enormously expensive regulation without true evidence of what we will get out of it. You're creating an enormous cost that will only have the effect of pushing jobs offshore" (Greenhouse, New York Times, 3/8). Rep. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) countered, "Elections have consequences. And today the Republican leadership starts down the road of what I believe will be a long list of repealing worker rights" (AP/Nando Times, 3/7). To view how all 435 members of the House voted yesterday, go to http://clerkweb.house.gov/cgi-bin/vote.exe?year=2001&rollnumber=33.