December 14, 2001
CONGRESS SENDS RAILROAD RETIREMENT BILL TO WHITE HOUSE FOR SIGNING
On Thursday evening, December 13, 2001, Congress formally transmitted the Railroad Retirement Reform bill to President Bush. The President now has ten days (not counting Sundays) to sign the bill into law.
We remain optimistic that President Bush will sign the bill. We will update this web site as soon as we learn of a definite signing date.
December 12, 2001
HOUSE VOTES TO SEND RAILROAD RETIREMENT BILL TO PRESIDENT
The House of Representatives on the evening of December 11 passed our Railroad Retirement bill by a resounding vote of 369 to 33. The bill now goes to President Bush for signature into law.
The bill must be transmitted to the White House within the next ten days. President Bush will then have ten calendar days (not counting Sundays) to sign the bill. We are working to try to get the House to send the bill to the White House immediately.
We are optimistic that the President will sign the bill. At this time we ask that you not call the White House. If calls should prove to be necessary, we will update this web site accordingly.
The Railroad Retirement Board is working on a comprehensive summary that will answer all questions about the new law. We hope to have it on our web page in the very near future.
"Last night’s vote by the House of Representatives culminates a two year legislative effort unprecedented in the annals of Congress," says TCU International President Robert Scardelletti. "TCU salutes all the rail workers and retirees who made their voices heard so loud that they could not be ignored."
December 5, 2001
VICTORY IN SENATE!
Rail workers and retirees have reason to celebrate! Thousands of phone calls and emails combined with non-stop lobbying efforts by rail labor and management have resulted in final passage of our Railroad Retirement Reform legislation in the United States Senate by the overwhelming vote of 90-9. On a preceding critical vote that would have derailed the bill by sending it back to Committee, we prevailed by an 80-19 margin.
There are two steps remaining before the bill becomes law. First, the House of Representatives has to re-vote the bill. We are hopeful that this will be a formality, since the bill passed by the Senate is identical to the House version, and had overwhelming bipartisan support earlier this year. We are already meeting with the House leadership to discuss this next step. For now, no phone calls are necessary.
After House passage, the bill would then go to President Bush for signing. Again, we are optimistic the President will sign the bill, and so again, no phone calls are needed at this time.
We do encourage all our members to call the following four Senators to thank them for their leadership effort on our behalf: Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD); Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT); and the leaders of our efforts on the Republican side Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE). There are scores of other Senators who stood with us the whole way and we will be thanking them in the future.
"Today is a historic milestone for rail workers and retirees," says TCU International President Robert Scardelletti. "Our collective efforts over the last two years have been rewarded with an overwhelming bipartisan victory on the floor of the Senate. We will continue working non-stop to get this bill signed into law this year."
December 4, 2001 (6 p.m.)
One More Hurdle – Key Vote Tomorrow Morning
After roundly defeating hostile amendments by Senator Gramm and Nickles on (Tuesday) Dec. 4th, the movement for railroad retirement reform faces only one more hurdle in the senate: a key life or death vote tomorrow morning (Wednesday) at 9:30 a.m..
Senator Nickels will be making a point of order to kill the bill. Our friend Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) will immediately make a motion to waive the point of order. We need to pass the Senator Baucus motion and that takes 60 votes. Our enemies are counting on the fact that we only received 59 votes when we defeated the directed scoring amendment. We need to pick up at least on additional vote and hold all of the correct votes. The four democrats who voted wrong on that vote were Bill Nelson (D-FL), Carl Levin (D-MI), Kent Conrad (D-ND), and Russ Feingold (D-WI). We need to bombard their offices with phone calls tonight and tomorrow morning to support Senator Baucus motion.
While we need to focus on these four pivotal senators, we can take nothing for granted – – every Senator should be called.
This is it! If we win this vote the bill will then be voted on and we have enough votes for passage.
December 4, 2001
RAILROAD RETIREMENT REFORM UPDATE
Opponents of Railroad Retirement reform are continuing this afternoon to attempt to derail the bill with killer amendments. In a major victory, we defeated the first major amendment on directed scoring by a vote of 59 to 40. But we now face more than 20 other killer amendments, including one that would delete the 60/30 provision. That is why you must continue your telephone calls to Senate offices asking your senators to "Vote NO on all amendments."
Opponents know that if they can attach any amendment to the Senate version of the Retirement reform bill that the legislation will die this year. This is because for a bill to become law, it must be passed in its same form in both chambers of Congress.
Your repeated telephone calls have defeated every previous attempt by Senate opponents of Railroad Retirement reform to kill the bill through a variety of parliamentary maneuvers. Those maneuvers are continuing today in the form of so-called killer amendments.
It is essential to continue your telephone calls with the message, "Vote NO on all amendments to Railroad Retirement reform."
RAILROAD RETIREMENT UPDATE
Once again, your telephone calls have delivered a legislative victory. Yesterday evening, Monday the 3rd of December, the U. S. Senate voted 94 to 1 to defeat the Lott Amendment and 81 to 15 in favor of Senator Daschle’s motion to move Railroad Retirement reform to a vote on the Senate floor.
We expect at least 20 killer amendments to be introduced today, Tuesday, December 4th, in the continuing effort by opponents. It is essential to continue your telephone calls with the message, "Vote NO on all amendments to Railroad Retirement reform."
November 30, 2001
LATEST UPDATE: MOBILIZE NOW FOR MONDAY RAILROAD RETIREMENT VOTE
The fate of railroad retirement reform will probably be decided next week, as the Senate votes first on a series of procedural cloture votes, followed by votes on several "killer" amendments.
The first key vote will take place around 5 p.m. Monday December 3. That vote will be on an amendment by Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) to add to the railroad retirement bill language that would allow drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wilderness Area and impose a moratorium on human cloning. Both issues are high-profile and controversial, and obviously have nothing to do with our railroad retirement issue. TCU has taken no position on either issue. But they do not belong in the railroad retirement debate. Trying to add them to our bill is a transparent tactic to try to kill railroad retirement reform.
We need to encourage every senator to VOTE NO on that amendment, no matter what their position is on human cloning or oil drilling in the Arctic Wilderness Area. The Senate will take up those issues later, and every Senator will then have a chance to vote their conscience.
If we succeed in defeating Senator Lott’s amendment, then Senator Daschle’s amendment to substitute the House language will be voted on at approximately 5:30 p.m. on Monday, December 3. We need 60 votes in support of this motion. Urge your Senators to support the Daschle Amendment (Amendment #2170). This will be a critical vote. If we lose this vote, railroad retirement reform will be dead this year.
If we win that vote, we’re still not home. At that time the bill will becomes open to so-called germane amendments. Senators Nickles (R-OK) and Gramm (R-TX) have submitted a score of various "killer" amendments, any one of which if adopted would unravel the coalition supporting reform and cause our bill’s ultimate defeat.
These enemies are clever. Knowing that they don’t have enough support to defeat railroad retirement outright, they have submitted several amendments with the aim of dividing and thereby conquering the rail retirement coalition. One amendment, for example, would actually increase surviving spouse benefits but raise the retirement age. Other devious amendments would eliminate the carrier 4.3 cent fuel tax. If any amendment passes, support for the entire bill will unravel. Our opponents are hoping that rail workers and retirees can be tricked by using the device of having a senator vote for what looks like a friendly amendment (increasing widow benefits) with the aim of killing the over-all package.
The Senate could proceed to vote on those amendments immediately following the procedural votes at 5 and 5:30 p.m. on Monday. Therefore, the message has to be delivered now: "NO AMENDMENTS".
We are hearing that some friendly Senators are being confused by the torrent of misinformation being spread by Senators Nickles and Gramm on the early retirement issue. Both senators keep saying that it is unfair to every other worker in America for railroad workers alone to be allowed to draw social security before the age of 65. They know that what they’re saying is a lie, but that doesn’t stop them. In reality, not a dime of Tier One money is used for railroad early retirement, either under current law or under our reform bill. The money for early retirement is paid for entirely by rail workers and employers through Tier II taxes on top of the Social Security equivalent taxes (Tier I) that they also pay. Together, we are paying more than 20% in payroll taxes above and beyond social security. When you call, make sure that every Senator understands that the early retirement provisions are fundamental to the bill, and that any amendment to change the early retirement provision must be rejected.
So call and e-mail both your Senators immediately. We know that the above scenario is complicated and confusing. That’s par for the Senate. But the following message must be communicated:
"SUPPORT RAILROAD RETIREMENT REFORM.
1) OPPOSE THE LOTT MOTION AND KEEP OTHER BILLS OFF OF THE RAILROAD RETIREMENT BILL.
2) SUPPORT THE DASCHLE MOTION TO MOVE AHEAD ON CONSIDERATION OF THE RAILROAD RETIREMENT BILL.
3) OPPOSE ALL AMENDMENTS, INCLUDING THOSE TO RAISE THE RETIREMENT AGE OR TO DELETE DIRECTED SCORING."
November 29, 2001
RAILROAD RETIREMENT PASSES FIRST HURDLE; SENATE VOTES TO PROCEED 96-4
In a major victory for rail workers and retirees, the Senate voted 96 to 4 on November 29, 2001, to invoke cloture and proceed to the floor with our railroad retirement legislation.
In other great news, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) has agreed to bring up the House version of the legislation, with its directed scoring provision. (Don’t be confused when it is debated as HR 10 instead of HR 1140 — the language of the bill will be identical to what we supported in the House.) By agreeing to this, Senator Daschle has ensured that if we make it through the Senate without amendments, the bill has a much greater chance of actually becoming law.
We are still a long way from victory. Under Senate rules, our bill will now be subject to numerous procedural delays and amendment votes that could last several more days. It is likely that opponents of the bill will first submit non-germane amendments, such as anti-cloning and Arctic drilling proposals, that, if passed, would result in killing railroad retirement reform this year. Once that process is ended, the bill will be open to germane amendments. We expect that Senator Don Nickles (R-OK), the most vicious opponent of railroad retirement reform, will submit several amendments, including ones to delete directed scoring, change the retirement age back to 62 or even 65, and to privatize the system entirely. Any one of his amendments would be fatal to the bill.
The great news is that we passed the all-important first test, thanks to your relentless pressure on the Senate. Now we must step up that pressure even more.
Call and e-mail both your Senators with the following message:
"Thank you for voting to proceed with railroad retirement legislation. Please continue to vote for its enactment this year by opposing all amendments."
The only four Senators who voted against our bill and should not be thanked are Don Nickles (R-OK), Phil Gramm (R-TX), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), and Judd Gregg (R-NH).
November 27, 2001
CALL YOUR REPUBLICAN SENATORS IMMEDIATELY
Tuesday, November 27, 2001 – Today Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) kept his promise to rail retirees and rail workers and brought our Railroad Retirement bill to the floor of the Senate.
As expected, Republican Senators Phil Gramm (TX) and Don Nickles (OK) immediately resorted to parliamentary maneuvers to try to block the Senate from voting on the bill. Their speeches against the bill were filled with lies and distortions. Because of their objections, the vote will be delayed until this Thursday, when sixty senators (cloture) will have to vote to proceed with the bill over their objections.
In a major double-cross, Republican Minority Leader Trent Lott, who had repeatedly assured railroad CEO’s and lobbyists that he supported the bill, reversed course and told the Republican caucus to vote against cloture when it comes up on Thursday. Just like last year, when he killed the bill by not bringing it to the floor, now Senator Lott is resorting to a parliamentary trick to prevent a vote.
A VOTE AGAINST CLOTURE IS A VOTE TO KILL RAILROAD RETIREMENT REFORM!
A majority of Republicans in the Senate are co-sponsors of the bill. Others have told you that they will vote for the bill when it reaches the floor even if they didn’t co-sponsor it. Senator Lott is now trying to use his influence to get them to vote against cloture.
You need to call every Republican Senator immediately. You need to tell them that if they vote against cloture, you will view it as breaking their promise to support Railroad Retirement legislation.
Contact your Republican Senators at their Washington office, as well as at their District offices. When calling Washington, please use our TCU HOTLINE 800-284-2919.
YOU MAY ALSO WANT TO PERSONALLY CONTACT SENATE MINORITY LEADER TRENT LOTT AT HIS FOLLOWING DISTRICT OFFICES:
If we get the sixty votes for cloture, Senators Gramm and Nickles have promised to try to kill the bill by peppering it with amendments. Every senator, including the Democrats, should be contacted with the following messages: Support the bill that Senator Daschle brings to the floor. Vote for cloture. Vote against all amendments.
November 26, 2001
SENATE TO TAKE UP THE RAILROAD RETIREMENT BILL THIS WEEK
The Senate leadership continues to tell us that our Railroad Retirement legislation will be brought to the Senate floor as early as Tuesday afternoon, November 27, 2001.
It is expected that opponents of the bill such as Phil Gramm (R-TX) and Don Nickles (R-OK) intend to filibuster. If this happens actual debate and votes on our bill will be delayed over the next week.
It takes 60 votes to invoke cloture, which means putting an end to a filibuster. As long as we hold our 75 Senate cosponsors we should be successful in ultimately ending all filibusters and proceeding to a vote on the bill. However, we cannot take any support for granted.
CALL BOTH YOUR SENATORS IMMEDIATELY
Contact them at their Washington office, as well as at their District offices. When calling Washington, you may use our TCU HOTLINE 800-284-2919.
TELL THEM THAT YOU WILL BE WATCHING THE VOTES THIS WEEK AND URGE THEM TO VOTE AGAINST ALL PROCEDURAL EFFORTS TO BLOCK THE BILL.
It is still undetermined what version of our bill is being brought to the Senate floor. We prefer the House version, which provides for "directed scoring". The House leadership believes this is the only way to ensure that the bill can become law this year (click here). When you make your calls tell your Senators to urge the Senate leadership to bring up the House version, with its directed scoring provision.
November 16, 2001
SENATE MAY TAKE UP THE RAILROAD RETIREMENT BILL
WEEK OF NOVEMBER 27, 2001
GREAT NEWS!! Senate leaders have informed the Railroad Retirement Coalition that they plan to schedule a vote on our Railroad Retirement legislation as early as Tuesday, November 27, 2001.
All our efforts are bearing fruit. Now we have one (1) week to focus all our efforts and convey a single message to every Senator:
VOTE TO ENACT OUR RAILROAD RETIREMENT LEGISLATION
OPPOSE ALL HOSTILE AMENDMENTS
Call both your Senators TODAY! Contact them at their Washington office, as well as at their District offices. When calling Washington, you may use our TCU HOTLINE 800-284-2919.
November 14, 2001
THE TIME IS NOW TO GET IT DONE!
This is to bring you up to date on our Railroad Retirement legislation. As you know, things have not been the same since the tragic events of September 11th. The leaders of our Country have been faced with challenges that they have never seen before, causing many routine things to be put on hold. Our Railroad Retirement bill has had to take a back seat to the ever-so-important war and security issues that have suddenly arisen. But it is not just our legislation that has been put on hold; so have many appropriation bills.
Now that we are heading closer and closer to the end of the year, Congress must complete their unfinished business. Due to the many disruptions in the legislative agenda, Congress is now expected to be in session until almost Christmas. Of course, this is good news to us. This gives us more time to keep the pressure on in order to get them to pass our Railroad Retirement legislation this year. We have been told by Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) that our legislation will be put in with a large package (usually called an Omnibus Bill) and be voted on this year. Due to the appropriations situation, it is expected that just before Christmas, Congress will bundle all of its unfinished business into a last minute, giant legislative package. This is where we expect and have been told that our Railroad Retirement legislation will be included.
On Friday, November 16th Congress is expected to adjourn to go home to their District offices. They will be returning to Washington on Monday, December 3rd. During this last stretch of time we must put the pressure on like we’ve never done before. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of contacting your Senators at their District offices, as well as their Washington office, to ask them to support passing Railroad Retirement this year. Ask your Senators to request other Senators to also support passing this vital legislation this year. If possible, visit your Senators at their District offices in person and attend any town meetings that are in your area. Now is our final chance — we must double and triple our efforts by keeping the pressure on each and every Senator until this legislation is passed this year!
In addition to contacting your individual Senators, make sure to pass your message on to the three most powerful Senate Leaders who have the power to move this legislation forward — Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, Senator Max Baucus and Senator Kent Conrad. Contact them at their Washington office, as well as at their District offices. When calling Washington you may use our TCU HOTLINE 800-284-2919. You may also want to contact Majority Leader Daschle directly at 202-224-2321. Express to each of them how important this legislation is to you and ask them to get it passed into law this year.
This is our last opportunity to put the pressure on. You have all done a fantastic job throughout this entire process. We are so close. We must not give up now.
KEEP UP THE FIGHT! MAKE THOSE CALLS TODAY!
October 17, 2001
URGENT ACTION NEEDED ON RAILROAD RETIREMENT
Next Tuesday, October 23, 2001 senators of both parties will be meeting with their leadership to discuss legislative priorities for the remainder of this session of Congress. We need to be in contact with our Senators before Tuesday to urge each of them to communicate the need to take up the Railroad Retirement legislation this session. Here is the message:
· We continue to support your efforts to fight terrorism and to do what is necessary to secure our country. As you make the important decisions that affect all of us we are with you all the way.
· We also know that the business of America must go on or the terrorists will have won a victory. With that in mind, please ask your leadership at next Tuesday’s luncheon to bring Railroad Retirement reform to the Senate floor before the end of this session.
· Thousands of widows and widowers anxiously await action on a bill that passed the House 384 to 33 and has 75 senate co-sponsors. Even more thousands of railway workers know that the Railroad Retirement legislation will mean better benefits, and more modern investment of their contributions.
· Thanks again for your help. We will not forget!
IT’S TIME TO REMIND THE SENATE — PASS S. 697 NOW
As our nation settles in for what President Bush predicts will be a protracted struggle against terrorism, Congress has slowly begun to get back to its legislative agenda. And it is our job to remind them that they have a major piece of unfinished business: passage of the Railroad Retirement and Survivors’ Improvement Act of 2001 — S. 697.
There are now 74 Senate co-sponsors of S. 697. There is simply no excuse for this bill not to pass during this session of Congress. We need to turn up the heat!
The enemies of railroad retirement reform — Republican Senators Phil Gramm (Texas), Don Nickles (Oklahoma), Craig Thomas (Wyoming), and Jon Kyl (Arizona) — are determined to use every trick in the book to derail the bill. Their latest gambit was to write Senator Max Baucus, Democratic Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, to demand that he hold hearings on the bill. They know they don?t have the votes to stop the bill, so now they want to delay it with the ploy of unnecessary hearings. Their hope is to use procedural delay tactics to prevent the bill from coming up this year.
We have to convince our Democratic and Republican friends that we will not tolerate this bill being pushed off for another year. We appreciate the fact that so many Senators have co-sponsored our bill. But now we need to see action. It is true that the Senate’s normal schedule of business has been disrupted. But there is still plenty of time for S. 697 to be voted on. We don’t care how the Senate decides to do it. They can put it on the imminent stimulus package or any other legislative vehicle. Or they can vote for it as a stand-alone measure. All we care about is that the bill gets voted on. We believe if there’s a vote, it will pass.
For now it is essential that every TCU member call their two Senators and remind them how important this legislation is to all of our active and retired families. Our Legislative Department, working with the other rail unions and carriers, is working Capitol Hill every day. As soon as we have a clearer sense of how S. 697 will be handled, we will be notifying you again to contact particular senators with a more specific message. For now, we need to let the entire Senate know that the railroad retirement issue is pressing and that almost one million rail workers and retirees are watching carefully to see what the Senate does.
Call both your Senators today. Ask them to pass S. 697 this session.