107th Congress

TCU’S LEGISLATIVE WATCH
107th CONGRESS, 2nd SESSION FINAL STATUS REPORT OF:

Howard W. Randolph, Jr.
International Vice President and National Legislative Director

JANUARY 2003


Amtrak Appropriations for FY2003: With the November 20 adjournment of the 107th Congress and after passing five Continuing Resolutions (CR?s) to continue funding the government without disruption, the President signed into law a CR that will budget FY2003 federal programs at the same budget level as FY2002. This includes all Department of Labor programs and Department of Transportation programs.

While President Bush only budgeted $521 million for Amtrak for FY2002, also added were additional appropriations of $100 million for defense and $205 million for summer supplemental funding in order to keep Amtrak from being shut down. As we understand it, Amtrak should receive these same amounts for FY2003, but the Republicans do not have to honor this and can legislate final appropriations in 2003, thereby possibly changing these amounts.

The usual rule for a CR is to provide funding at a pro-rated monthly rate based on 90% or possibly 100% of the appropriation for the previous fiscal year. For Amtrak, this would equate to 1/12 of $521 million in a concept that, in the CR, would provide monthly funding at 1/12 of the amount obligated in the previous fiscal year. Such a classification results in a baseline for Amtrak of $521 million (FY2002 appropriation), plus $312 million (60% of the FY2001 appropriation obligated in FY2002), plus $100 million (FY2001 defense supplemental appropriation for Amtrak security obligated in FY2002), plus $205 million (Amtrak summer supplemental funding appropriation), which totals up to $1.138 billion. Under this method the figure comes close to the minimum of $1.2 billion needed to keep Amtrak from folding up, which is better than the Republican House proposed level of $762 million. The Democratic Senate appropriated the $1.2 billion.

Amtrak?s long-term survival depends on assured, adequate funding. To accomplish this TCU supported H.R. 4545 and S. 1991, both bills would provide reauthorization of Amtrak. A synopsis of both of these bills follows.

H.R. 4545 – Amtrak Reauthorization Act of 2002: On 4/23/02 Congressman Don Young (R-AK), Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee, introduced H.R. 4545 a bill to authorize appropriations for the benefit of Amtrak for FY2003.

The bill was marked-up in the T&I Subcommittee on Railroads on 5/8/02 to the Full Committee (Amended) by Voice Vote. The bill provides $1.975 billion for (1) capital expenditures; (2) operating expenses; (3) payment to the Treasury in an amount equal to the tax Amtrak must pay as an employer under the Railroad Retirement Tax Act that is more than the amount needed for anticipated benefits for Amtrak retirees and for their beneficiaries; and (4) certain rail security projects.

The bill requires Amtrak to transmit to the Secretary of Transportation a comprehensive business plan, including targets for ridership, revenues, and capital and operating expenses, and quarterly assessments of the extent to which the business plan goals have been achieved.

The bill was only marked-up after a contentious battle with Chairman Young regarding strenuous conditions for the use of the Amtrak funds; however, a consensus was agreed-to with the help of Subcommittee Chairman Jack Quinn (R-NY) and ranking Democrat Jim Oberstar (D-MN). Although there was a lot of dialogue between railroad unions, some construction unions and the Congress, we were never able to reach a consensus with the Republican leadership.

Since, Chairman Young is not an enthusiastic Amtrak supporter, he did not schedule a Full Committee mark-up for this bill. In the end, Chairman Young pulled the bill under the premises that there was not enough time left to move it. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU supported this bill)

S. 1991 – Amtrak Reauthorization and National Defense Rail Act: On 3/6/02 Senator Ernest F. Hollings (D-SC) introduced S. 1991 a bill to establish a national rail passenger transportation system, reauthorize Amtrak and improve security and service on Amtrak.

The bill was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation with 37 cosponsors. A hearing was held on 3/14/02 and on 5/29/02 the bill was marked-up on a vote of 20-3 in the Full Committee with an amendment in the nature of a substitute with written minority views filed under Senate Report No. 107-157, pending Senate floor action.

The bill provides $500 million annually for Amtrak, $1.26 billion for Amtrak security for FY2003, $1.55 billion annually for the Federal High Speed Corridor Development, $1.310 billion annually for the Northeast Corridor, $5 million annually for the Cooperative Research Program, $580 million annually for long-distance trains and $270 million annually for short distance and state supported routes. Although the bill has provisions for high-speed rail projects which labor has concerns, Chairman Hollings indicated that he would address rail labor issues on accompanying appropriation bills.

Intense negotiations took place between Chairman Hollings, rail labor and some construction unions. We were interested in the survival of Amtrak and this bill provided the best alternative; however, we did not arrive at a unified conclusion because of a vague contracting out provision. Senator Hollings had pledged to craft a solution to fund Amtrak and protect employees. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU supported this bill)

H.R. 2950 – Rail Infrastructure Development and Expansion Act for the 21st Century: On 9/25/01 Congressman Don Young (R-AK), Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee, along with 16 cosponsors, introduced H.R. 2950 a bill that provides for the financing of high-speed rail infrastructure through the use of $59 billion in bonding authority over a period of ten years.

On 5/8/02 the bill was considered and marked-up in the T&I Subcommittee. Although rail labor had concerns with provisions in the bill, which could be troublesome in any new established high-speed passenger service, labor did not oppose the bill in the T&I Subcommittee. Chairman Young committed to allow opportunities to work on concerns rail labor and other groups had. However, when the groups fixed their problems Chairman Young decided not to move the bill. He said lack of time prevented the bill to move. He also advised that he would hold-up the Amtrak H.R. 4545 because it was his intention to move the bills together out of the Full Committee.

In the end this bill did not include Amtrak and instead opposed the use of funds for Amtrak. The word Amtrak did not appear anywhere in the bill. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned.

S. 250 and H.R. 2329 – High-Speed Rail Investment Act of 2001 (HSRIA): On 2/6/01 Senator Joseph Biden, Jr. (D-DE) introduced S. 250 a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow a credit to holders of qualified bonds issued by Amtrak, $12 billion over a ten year period. On 2/6/01 the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Finance with 56 cosponsors.

In the House on 6/27/01 Congressman Amo Houghton, Jr. (R-NY) introduced a companion bill H.R. 2329 with 192 cosponsors. On 6/27/01 the bill was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) and on 6/28/01 it was referred to the T&I Subcommittee on Railroads. No further action was taken and these bills died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU supported this legislation)

S. 1550 – Rail Security Act of 2001: On 10/15/01 Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC) introduced S. 1550 a bill to provide for rail safety and security assistance. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and was ordered to be reported favorably without amendment and without a written report.

The Rail Security Act of 2001 authorizes emergency appropriations to Amtrak for: (1) system-wide security upgrades, including reimbursement of extraordinary security-related costs incurred by it since September 11, 2001, such as the hiring and training of additional police officers, canine-assisted security units, and surveillance equipment; (2) completion of New York tunnel life safety projects and rehabilitation of tunnels in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland; and (3) increased accessibility of Penn Station, New York City, for safety and emergency response situations, renovations to the Thames and Niantic Bridges in Connecticut, and improved safety operations through an advanced civil speed enforcement system radio system in high-speed territory. Prohibits the Secretary of Transportation from making such amounts available to Amtrak until a plan has been submitted to the Secretary for approval. Directs the Secretary to ensure that up to 50 percent of the amounts appropriated under this Act are obligated for projects outside the Northeast Corridor.

On 10/17/01 the bill was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar and was unable to clear consent before adjournment. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU supported)

H.R. 3338 ? Department of Defense Appropriations Act 2002 – Amtrak/ARC: On 12/7/01 Senator Joseph Biden, Jr. (D-DE) introduced an amendment to H.R. 3338 a bill making appropriations for the Department of Defense (DOD) for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2002.

Senator Biden, an avid Amtrak supporter, added to the DOD appropriations bill, language to allow Amtrak to repeal the requirement of PL #105-134, which calls for Amtrak to submit to Congress by February 7, 2002, a liquidation plan until Amtrak is reauthorized.

In H.R. 3338 Amtrak was appropriated a supplemental funding of $100 million for capital improvements. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) has promised to legislate a $1.5 billion package to help make Amtrak tunnels and other facilities more secure. It would be a $1.8 billion measure similar to a bill S. 1550 the Senate considered in October.

No appropriated funds or revenues generated by the National Railroad Passenger Corporation may be used to implement section 204(c)(2) of Public Law 105-134 until Congress has enacted an Amtrak Reauthorization Act.

On 1/10/02 President Bush signed H.R. 3338 into law and the bill became Public Law No: 107-117. (TCU supported)

S. 1530 – FY2003 Amtrak Authorization and Railroad Advancement and Infrastructure Law for the 21st Century: On 10/11/01 Senator Ernest Hollings (D-SC) introduced S. 1530 to provide improved safety and security measures for rail transportation and provide for improved passenger rail service.

The bill amends Federal transportation law to authorize appropriations for FY2003 to the Secretary of Transportation for Amtrak capital expenditures, operating expenses and certain mandatory payments.

It also repeals certain Amtrak self-sufficiency requirements terminating Federal operating grant funds (Government subsidies) to Amtrak.

The bill authorizes emergency appropriations for specified Amtrak activities.

It amends the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act of 1976 to change from discretionary to mandatory the authority of the Secretary to provide direct loans and loan guarantees for railroad rehabilitation and improvement projects to State and local governments, certain interstate compacts, government sponsored authorities, and corporations, railroads, and joint ventures that include at least one railroad. The bill includes the acquisition, improvement, or rehabilitation of rail safety and security equipment and facilities as an eligible project for such financing. Increases the aggregate amount: (1) of direct loans and loan guarantees made at any one time for such projects; and (2) for projects primarily benefiting non-class I freight railroad carriers.

The bill sets forth additional requirements with respect to cohorts of such direct loans and loan guarantees (involving commitment from non-Federal sources), and applications for them.

It establishes a program of capital grants to class II and III railroads to rehabilitate, preserve, or improve railroad track used primarily for freight transportation to a standard to ensure it can, be operated, safely and efficiently and accommodate 286,000-pound rail cars. Sets forth certain grant and project requirements.

S. 1530 authorizes appropriations through FY2009 for certain designated High-Speed Rail Corridor projects.

The bill has 10 cosponsors. On 11/1/01 it was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation where a hearing was held. TCU worked very closely with Senator Hollings staff to include in the bill all railroad labor laws. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU supports funding for Amtrak and High Speed Rail Projects)

S. 1725 – Study of Foreign Passenger Rail Transport Security Programs: On 11/16/01 Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) introduced S. 1725 a bill to require that the Comptroller General to carry out a study to determine the feasibility of undertaking passenger rail transportation security programs that are similar to those of foreign countries.

The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned.

S. 1726 – Passenger, Baggage, and Cargo Screening: On 11/16/01 Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) introduced S. 1726 a bill to require that the Secretary of Transportation conduct a study of the feasibility of implementing a program for the full screening of passengers, baggage, and cargo on Amtrak trains.

The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned.

H.R. 2205 – Amtrak Good Neighbor Act of 2001: On 6/14/01 Congressman Robert Simmons (R-CT) introduced H.R. 2205 a bill to promote the cooperation of Amtrak with local governments in the implementation of activities to enhance railroad property and structures.

The bill amends Federal rail transportation law to direct the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak), on request from and in conjunction with a local government in a State on the main line of the Northeast Corridor, to develop and implement a plan for rail enhancement activities, including providing to the local government safe access to rail property and structures for such enhancement activities. Defines "rail enhancement activity" to mean landscaping, painting, and other beautification, historic preservation, and rehabilitation and operation of rail property and structures This includes buildings, bridges, grade crossings, flyovers, and other facilities.

On 6/14/01 the bill was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) and on 6/16/01 it was referred to the T&I Subcommittee on Railroads. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned.

S. 1528Amtrak Rail Transportation Safety and Security Act: As a result of the September 11, terrorist attacks, on 10/10/01 Senator John McCain (R-AZ) introduced S. 1528 a bill that authorizes funds to improve the safety and security of rail transportation provided by Amtrak, and the Secretary of Transportation may, through appropriate funding documents, procedures, and arrangements including contracts, loans, grants, and cooperative agreements make available — (1) $515,000,000 for system-wide security upgrades, including hiring and training additional police officers, canine-assisted security units, and surveillance equipment; and (2) $998,000,000 to be used to complete New York tunnel life safety projects and rehabilitate tunnels in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Maryland.

This was an important step because in the past Senator McCain had been one of the strongest opponents of any type of funding for Amtrak. But, he rode the train to New York to ?ground zero? on ACELA when there were no other modes of transportation available to handle all members of the Senate, then he realized the importance of Amtrak as national defense source. This is the first time he has gestured to help Amtrak.

The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU supported)

H.R. 3591 – Systemic Passenger Infrastructure and Network Overhaul through Financial Freedom Act – Requires Congress To Restructure or Liquidate Amtrak: On 12/20/01 Congressman John Mica (R-FL) introduced H.R. 3591 a bill to provide for the competitive operation of the Northeast rail corridor and Autotrain using State and private sector initiatives.

The bill was introduced in the last days of the Session to force Congress to restructure or liquidate Amtrak. The bill also transfers ownership of the Northeast Corridor and the Autotrain that runs through his district. The measure allows private companies to operate the service and transfers control of routes to the Department of Transportation.

H.R. 3591 has 10 of the strongest opponents of Amtrak as cosponsors. On 12/20/01 the bill was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) and on 12/21/01 it was referred to the T&I Subcommittee on Railroads. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU opposed this bill)

H.R. 5020 – Emergency Directed Rail Service Act: On 6/26/02 Congressman Don Young (R-AK), Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, introduced H.R. 5020 a bill to authorize the Surface Transportation Board to direct the continued operation of certain commuter rail passenger transportation operations in emergency situations; basically, if Amtrak were to shut down. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU opposed this bill)

H.R. 5024 ? Directs Transportation Department to Make A Loan Guarantee to Amtrak: On 6/26/02 Ranking Democratic member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee James Oberstar (D-MN) introduced H.R. 5024 a bill which would direct the Secretary of Transportation to give Amtrak loan guarantees for the full $270 million it needs to operate until the end of the fiscal year.

Although n o further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned, in a supplemental bill Congress did provide Amtrak with a $100 million loan guarantee and $205 million supplement for FY2002 to keep Amtrak running. (TCU supported this bill)

H.R. 1140, S. 697, and H.R. 10 – Railroad Retirement and Survivors’ Improvement Act of 2001: On 3/21/01 Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young (R-AK), Ranking Member Jim Oberstar (D-MN), Subcommittee Chairman Jack Quinn (R-NY) and Ranking Member Bob Clement (D-TN), introduced H.R. 1140 a bill to modernize the financing of the railroad retirement system and to provide enhanced benefits to employees and beneficiaries.

The bill has 371 cosponsors. On 7/31/01 H.R. 1140 passed the House by a vote of 384-33. The bill is identical to last year?s H.R. 4844 and contains all of the benefit improvements originally agreed to by rail management and labor including long-needed improvements for surviving spouses, full retirement annuity at age 60 with 30 years of service, elimination of artificial caps on benefits, vesting after five years instead of 10 and provisions that require the carriers to insure future fund solvency with future tax increases, if necessary.

Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Max Baucus (D-MT) introduced the companion bill S. 697 in the Senate on 04/04/01. Senators Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Max Baucus (D-MT) forced the bill through the Senate using technical Senate Rules to overcome unreasonable schemes by Tax-Hawk republicans on the issue of ?a $15 billion budget score-keeping.? After 8 days of debate and 8 votes (including Cloture votes) in the Senate, the substance of the bill H.R. 1140 was adopted into H.R. 10 and was sent back to the House for approval since it was adopted with a different bill number.

On 12/11/01 the House adopted the bill H.R. 10 on a vote of 369-33. On 12/13/01 H.R. 10 was sent to the President and on 12/21/01 he signed it into law and it became Public Law No: 107-90. (TCU supported these bills)

H.R. 999 – Rail Merger Reform and Customer Protection Act, S. 526 Rail Competition Enforcement Act of 2001, H.R. 1253 Free Market Antitrust Immunity Reform (FAIR) Act of 2001: On 3/13/01 Congressman Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) introduced H.R. 999 and Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) introduced S. 526. On 3/27/01 Congressman James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced H.R. 1253.

All of these bills serve to strengthen the standards by which the Surface Transportation Board (STB) reviews railroad mergers, and to apply the Federal antitrust laws to rail carriers and railroad transportation. No further action was taken and these bills died when the 107th Congress adjourned.

H.R. 432 – Railroad Crossing Delay Safety Assurance Act: On 2/6/01 Congressman John Dingell (D-MI) introduced H.R. 432 a bill to authorize State and local governments to regulate, for public safety purposes, trains that block road traffic. The bill has 10 cosponsors.

On 2/7/01 the bill was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I), Subcommittee on Railroads. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned.

H.R. 433 and S. 1015 – Railroad Crossing Delay Reduction Act: On 2/6/01 Congressman John Dingell (D-MI) introduced H.R. 433 a bill to direct and require the Secretary of Transportation to issue regulations addressing safety concerns in minimizing delay for automobile traffic at railroad grade crossings. The bill had 10 cosponsors.

On 2/6/01 the bill was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I), and on 2/7/01 was referred to the T&I Subcommittee on Highways and Transit and Subcommittee on Railroads.

Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) introduced an identical bill S. 1015 on 6/12/01 which was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. No further action was taken and these bills died when the 107th Congress adjourned.

H.R. 517 – Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program Correction Act of 2001: On 2/7/01 Congressman Nick Rahall (D-WV) introduced H.R. 517 a bill that d eclares that direct loans and loan guarantees made available under the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program shall not be subject to conditions requiring applicants for such loan and guarantees to have previously been denied financing from a commercial lender or of any condition requiring pledges of collateral with a recovery value covering 100 percent of the anticipated principal and accrued interest amount of the loan or guarantee.

On 2/7/01 the bill was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I), Subcommittee on Railroads. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned.

H.R. 554 and H. RES. 36 – Rail Passenger Disaster Family Assistance Act of 2001: On 2/12/01 Congressman Don Young (R-AK), Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee, introduced H.R. 554 a bill to establish a program, coordinated by the National Transportation Safety Board, of assistance to families of passengers involved in rail passenger accidents. The bill had 3 cosponsors.

On 2/14/01 the bill was adopted in the House on a vote of 404-4 and was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

On 2/13/01 Congressman Thomas Reynolds (R-NY) introduced H. Res. 36 a resolution to provide for consideration of the bill H.R. 554. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU supported)

H.R. 725 – Made in America Information Act: On 2/26/01 Congressman James Traficant (D-OH) introduced H.R. 725 a bill to direct the Secretary of Commerce to provide for the establishment of a toll- free telephone number under the Federal Trade Commission to assist consumers in determining if products are American-made.

The bill was adopted by 2/3 required 407-3 on 3/14/01. The bill was then referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on 3/15/01. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU supported)

S. 277, S. 964, and H.R. 665 – Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2001: On 2/7/01 Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) introduced S. 277 a bill to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide for an increase in the Federal minimum wage. To date the bill has 36 cosponsors. On 5/25/01 Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) introduced S. 964 a similar bill which also has 37 cosponsors to date. These bills were placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders on 05/26/01.

H.R. 665, a companion bill in the House, was introduced on 2/14/01 by Congressman David Bonior (D-MI) and has 152 cosponsors to date. All of these bills would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to increase the Federal minimum wage to: (1) $5.75 an hour beginning 30 days after enactment of this Act; (2) $6.25 an hour during the year beginning on January 1, 2002; and (3) $6.65 an hour beginning January 1, 2003. On 4/5/01 the House bill H.R. 665 was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Subcommittee on Workforce Protections. No further action was taken and these bills died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU supported)

H.R. 122, H.R. 192, S. 181, and S. 237 – Social Security Benefits Tax Relief Act of 2001: On 1/3/01 Congressman Sam Johnson (R-TX) introduced H.R. 122, which has 156 cosponsors to date. On that same day, Congressman Bob Stump (R-AZ) introduced H.R. 192, which has 9 cosponsors and on 1/25/01 Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) introduced a Senate companion bill S. 181, with 2 cosponsors. On 2/1/01 Senator Tim Hutchinson (R-AR) introduced another Senate companion bill S. 237, with 20 cosponsors to date.

All of these bills would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the 1993 income tax increase on Social Security benefits. Both Social Security and Railroad Retirement Tier I benefits became subject to Federal Income Tax for the first time under the 1993 Social Security Act amendments. The Social Security Benefits Tax Relief Act of 2001 would remove the extra level of taxation added in 1993, and lower the amount of Social Security and Railroad Retirement Tier I benefits subject to Federal Income Tax back down to no more than 50%. The bill would also allow for appropriations from the general funds to the Medicare trust fund to make up for the loss of income that would result from the change in law should the bill become law.

The House bills H.R. 122 and H.R. 192 were both referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means. The Senate bills S. 181 and S. 237 were both referred to the Senate Finance Committee. No further action was taken and these bills died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU supported)

S. 489 – Family and Medical Leave Clarification Act: On 3/8/01 Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) introduced S. 489 a bill to amend the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 to clarify the Act.

This bill would severely weaken the FMLA. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU opposed this bill)

S.J. Res. 6 and H. Res. 79 – Ergonomics Regulations Resolution: President Bush issued an Executive Order on an OSHA ergonomics regulation and on 3/1/01 Senator Don Nickles (R-OK) introduced S.J. Res. 6, which has 6 cosponsors. This is a joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval of the rule submitted by the Department of Labor under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, relating to ergonomics. On 3/20/01 S.J. Res. 6 became Public Law No.: 107-5.

H. Res. 79 was introduced by Congressman John Linder (R-GA) on 3/6/01 which provides for consideration of the joint resolution S.J. Res. 6. On 3/7/01 H. Res. 79 passed the House by a vote of 222-198. Much debate occurred during the Democratic controlled Senate on the issue but no changes were made. (TCU adamantly opposed President Bush’s Executive Order)

 
S. 598 ? Reissuance of an Ergonomics Rule: On 3/22/01 Senator John Breaux (D-LA) introduced S. 598, which has 11 cosponsors to date.
 
The bill is to provide for the reissuance of a rule relating to ergonomics to counteract S.J. Res. 6 and H. Res. 79. This bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU supported)

S. 283, H.R. 526, S. 872, S. 1052, H.R. 2315, and S. 6 – Bipartisan Patient Protection Act of 2001/ Patients? Bill of Rights: On 2/7/01 Senator John McCain (R-AZ) introduced S. 283, which has 40 cosponsors to date. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

The House companion bill H.R. 526 was introduced on 2/8/01 by Congressman Greg Ganske (R-IA), and has 191 cosponsors to date. On 2/15/01 the bill was referred to the House Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Health.

S. 872 was introduced on 5/14/01 by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and has 2 cosponsors to date. On 5/15/01 the bill was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders.

On 6/14/01 Senator John McCain (R-AZ) introduced S. 1052. The bill was adopted in the Senate on 6/29/01 with amendments by a vote of 59-36. The bill was amended on 11/29/02 by the Democratic Senate on a bipartisan basis and was sent to the House. The bill was held at the desk in the House.

The companion bill in the House H.R. 2315 was introduced on 6/26/01 by Congressman Ernest Fletcher (R-KY) and has 75 cosponsors to date. It is a bill to protect consumers in managed care plans and in other health coverage. On 6/26/01 the bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee and has had no further action.

S. 6 was introduced on 1/22/01 by Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-SD) and has 39 cosponsors to date. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

All of these related bills would amend the Public Health Service Act, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, and the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to protect consumers in managed care plans and other health coverage. There was much debate on these bills, but no further action was taken and these bills died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU supports a genuine bill of rights without the phony provisions that affect collective bargaining health care)

H.R. 1871 – Modify Certain Vesting Requirements For Railroad Retirement Annuities: On 5/16/01 Congressman James Greenwood (R-PA) introduced H.R. 1871 a bill to modify certain vesting requirements for Railroad Retirement annuities.

On 5/16/01 the bill was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I), and on 5/17/01 it was referred to the T&I Subcommittee on Highways and Transit. The bill was also referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means on 5/16/01 and on 5/24/01 was referred to the Subcommittee on Social Security. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned.

H.R. 1024 and S. 661 – Transportation Tax Equity and Fairness Act: On 3/14/01 Congressman Kenny Hulshof (R-MO) introduced H.R. 1024 a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to repeal the 4.3-cent motor fuel excise taxes on railroads and inland waterway transportation which remain in the general fund of the Treasury. To date the bill has 54 cosponsors. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

S. 661, the companion bill in the Senate was introduced by Chairman of the Finance Committee Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN) on 03/29/01 and has 23 cosponsors. This bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance. No further action was taken and these bills died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU opposed the repeal of this tax)

H.R. 1020 and S. 1220 – Railroad Track Modernization Act of 2001: On 3/14/01 Congressman Jack Quinn (R-NY) introduced H.R. 1020 a bill to authorize the Secretary of Transportation to establish a grant program for the rehabilitation, preservation, or improvement of railroad track. To date the bill has 100 cosponsors.

On 6/12/01 the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) amended the bill and reported it out of Committee under House Report H. Rept. 107-96 and was placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 52, for House floor consideration.

S. 1220 is an identical bill that was introduced by Senator John Breaux (D-LA) on 7/23/01. The bill was ordered to be reported favorably by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on 4/18/02. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU supported)

H.R. 734 – Amendment to the Railroad Retirement Act of 1974 to Eliminate a Limitation on Benefits: On 2/27/01 Congressman Robert Andrews (D-NJ) introduced H.R. 734 a bill to amend the Railroad Retirement Act of 1974 to eliminate a limitation on benefits.

On 2/27/01 the bill was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) and on 2/28/01 it was referred to the T&I Subcommittee on Railroads. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU supported) 

 

H.R. 4, S. 517 and related bills H.R. 2511, H.R. 2436, H.R. 2460, H.R. 2587, S. 517, S. 597, and S. 1979 – The Energy Tax Policy Act of 2001 Repeal of the 4.3-cent Railroads Fuel Excise Taxes: On 7/17/01 Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA) introduced a substitute bill to H.R. 2511 in a mark-up of the Committee on Ways and Means an Energy Tax bill H.R. 2511 which included language to repeal the 4.3-cent motor fuel excise taxes on railroads and inland waterway transportation which remain in the general fund of the Treasury. The repeal is in an incremental period of ten years. On 7/18/01, the Committee approved the bill on a party vote of 24-17. All Democrats voted against the Energy Tax Policy Act of 2001 bill, which contained this provision.

The House Rules Committee Resolution H. Res. 216 provided for consideration of the revised legislation H.R. 4, The Omnibus Energy Tax Policy Act of 2001. The 4.3-cents-per-gallon General Fund excise tax rates on diesel fuel used in trains and fuels used in barges operating on the designated inland waterway system would be repealed over a prescribed phase-out period. The 4.3-cents-per-gallon tax rate would be reduced by 1 cent per gallon from October 1, 2001 through December 31, 2004. The reduction would be 2 cents per gallon in calendar years 2005 and 2006, 3 cents per gallon in calendar years 2007 and 2008, and 4 cents per gallon in calendar year 2009. The tax would be fully repealed effective on January 1, 2010. The bill provides that the effective date of proposal is effective for production in taxable years beginning after December 31, 2001. The bill passed the House on 8/2/01 by a vote of 240-189. On 9/4/01 the bill was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar.

On 4/25/02 the Senate struck all after the enacting clause and substituted the language of S. 517 as amended by a vote of 88 ? 11. The Senate insisted on its amendment and requested a conference. The House eventually agreed and conferees were appointed to confer S. 517 and H.R. 4 with a conference held on 6/27/02 and 7/25/02 with no conclusion. The Senate bill did not contain the fuel tax provision. On 10/3/02 the Senate and House conferees met with out resolution.

No further action was taken on the consolidation of these bills and consequently they died when the 107th Congress adjourned.

H.R. 2580 and H. Res. 219 – Patients? Bill of Rights and Patient Protection Act: On 7/19/01 Congressman Greg Ganske (R-IA) introduced H.R. 2580, which has 85 cosponsors to date. This bill is to amend the Public Health Service Act, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, and the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to protect consumer?s health coverage and managed care plans.

On 8/2/01 Congressman Porter Goss (R-FL) introduced H. Res. 219 a resolution which provided for consideration of the bill H.R. 2580 and was adopted on a vote of 226-203 on final passage followed a cliffhanger 218-213 vote to amend the measure to reflect a last-minute deal between Bush and Charlie Norwood (R-GA) amendment to limit liability and damage awards when a patient is harmed by a denial of health care.

The amendment replaces the original liability provisions that enforce the patient protections with the more limited liability provisions pushed by President Bush. Norwood drafted the amendment in an 11th hour agreement with the White House. It creates bigger hurdles for patients seeking to sue HMOs that improperly deny them care, white creating a special protection for the HMOs. Rather than provide more protections for consumers, the liability provisions in the Norwood amendment would actually undermine existing state patient protections.

TCU supports a genuine bill of rights without phony provisions that may affect collective bargaining health care plans. A "yea" was a vote in support of President Bush?s position, which we oppose. On August 2, the amendment was adopted by a vote of 218-213. Bush had threatened to veto this legislation unless it was amended. The House action sets up a post-recess conference with the Democratic controlled Senate, which passed a far tougher version S. 1052 on June 29, 2001. No further action was taken and these bills died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU supported the Senate version)

S. 624 – Workplace Flexibility Act: On 3/27/01 Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) introduced S. 624, which has 3 cosponsors to date. The bill amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to permit employers to offer compensatory time off in lieu of overtime payments. This is the old right-wing comp time bill designed to eliminate the 40-hour workweek.

On 3/27/01 S. 624 was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU opposed)

H.R. 602 and S. 318 – Genetic Nondiscrimination in Health Insurance and Employment Act: On 2/13/01 Congresswoman Louise McIntosh Slaughter (D-NY) introduced H.R. 602, which has 266 cosponsors to date. This bill is to prohibit discrimination on the basis of genetic information with respect to health insurance.

On 2/13/01 H.R. 602 was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and on 3/29/01 the bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations.

On 7/25/01 Senate Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-SD) introducedS. 318, which has 29 cosponsors to date. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions where hearings were held. No further action was taken and these bills died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU opposes genetic testing at the workplace)

S. 870 – Multimodal Transportation Financing Act: On 5/10/01 Senator Bob Smith (R-NH) introduced S. 870 a bill to amends the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide additional tax incentives for public-private partnerships and financing of highway, mass transit, high speed rail, and intermodal transfer facilities project. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Finance. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU opposed)

H.R. 1512 and S. 925 – Medicare Extension of Drugs to Seniors (MEDS) Act of 2001: On 4/4/01 Congressman Bernard Sanders (I-VT) introduced H.R. 1512, which has 33 cosponsors to date. The bill is to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to provide a prescription benefit program for all Medicare beneficiaries.

On 4/4/01 H.R. 1512 was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means, and on 4/24/01 the bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Health.

The companion bill in the Senate S. 925 was introduced on 5/22/01 by Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN). The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Finance. No further action was taken and these bills died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU supported)

H.R. 404 – National Labor Relations Board Ruling Enforcement Act of 2001: On 2/6/01 Congressman Robert Andrews (D-NJ) introduced H.R. 404 a bill to amend the National Labor Relations Act to ensure that certain orders of the National Labor Relations Board are enforced to protect the rights of employees.

On 2/6/01 H.R. 404 was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and on 3/22/01 the bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU supported)

S. 631, H.R. 10, H. Res. 127, and H.R. 1836 – Comprehensive Retirement Security and Pension Reform Act of 2001: On 3/27/01 Senator George Voinovich (R-OH) introduced S. 631 a bill to provide for pension reform. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Finance.

H.R. 10 was introduced on 3/14/01 by Congressman Rob Portman (R-OH) and has 314 cosponsors to date. On 6/7/01 the bill was placed on the Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders.

On 5/1/01 Congressman Thomas Reynolds (R-NY) introduced H. Res. 127 a resolution to provide for consideration of the bill H.R. 10. On 5/2/01 H. Res. 127 passed the House by vote of 404-24.

On 5/15/01 Congressman Bill Thomas (R-CA) introduced H.R. 1836 the bill contained many retirement provisions of many bills including the main retirement language of H.R. 10, which was adopted, by the House and Senate Conference Committees on 5/26/01. The bill was finally adopted by the Senate on a vote of 58?33 and President Bush signed it into Public Law No: 107-16 on 6/7/01.

Since H.R. 10 was left there in a shell, Senator Daschle used the bill to adopt the railroad retirement language of H.R. 1140 into the bill which was signed into law by the President on 12/21/01 and became Public Law No: 107-90. (TCU supported)

H.R. 877 – Skilled Workforce Enhancement Act of 2001: On 3/6/01 Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL) introduced H.R. 877, which has 54 cosponsors to date. This bill is to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow small business employers a credit against income tax for certain expenses for long- term training of employees in highly skilled small business trades.

On 3/6/01 H.R. 877 was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned.

H.R. 652 – Labor Relations First Contract Negotiations Act of 2001: On 2/14/01 Congressman Gene Green (D-TX) introduced H.R. 652 a bill to amend the National Labor Relations Act to require the arbitration of initial contract negotiation disputes. To date the bill has 10 cosponsors.

On 2/14/01 H.R. 652 was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and on 4/5/01 the bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU supported)

S. 948 and H.R. 2029 – Community Rail Line Relocation Assistance Act of 2001: On 5/24/01 Senators Trent Lott (R-MS) and John Kerry (D-MA) introduced S. 948, which has 9 cosponsors to date.

On 5/25/01 Congressman Charles Pickering (R-MS) introduced a similar bill H.R. 2029 with 4 cosponsors. These bills would amend Federal Highway Law to direct the Secretary of Transportation to carry out a grant program to provide financial assistance to states for up to 90% of the cost of local rail line relocation projects. On 5/29/01 H.R. 2029 was referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Subcommittee on Railroads. No further action was taken and these bills died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU supported)

S. 1103 – Railroad Competition Act of 2001: On 6/26/01 Senator John D. Rockefeller, IV, (D-WV) introduced S. 1103 a bill to amend title 49, United States Code, to enhance competition among and between rail carriers in order to ensure efficient rail service and reasonable rail rates in any case in which there is an absence of effective competition.

On 6/26/01 the bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned.

H.R. 694 – Workers Access to Accountable Governance In Employment (WAGE) Act: On 2/14/01 Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) introduced H.R. 694 a bill to amend the National Labor Relations Act to permit elections to decertify representation by a labor organization.

The bill permits elections to decertify representation by a labor organization, if 30 percent or more of the employees in a bargaining unit file with the National Labor Relations Board a petition alleging that they no longer wish to be represented by the certified or recognized labor organization. The bill directs the Board, within 50 days after such filing, to conduct an election. It also requires 12 months to elapse before another such desertification election may be held in any one bargaining unit.

On 2/14/01, H.R. 694 was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and on 4/5/01 the bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU opposed)

H.R. 1080 – Federal Election Reform Act of 2001: On 3/15/01 Congressman John Linder (R-GA) introduced H.R. 1080 a bill to amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to prohibit labor union organizations from using resources for information about candidates on elections and imposes additional stringent reporting requirements on labor organizations.

On 3/15/01 the bill was referred to the House Committee on House Administration. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU opposed)

H.R. 1109 and S. 873 – National Right-to-Work Act/ Repeal Railway Labor Act: On 3/20/01 Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) introduced H.R. 1109 a bill to amend the National Labor Relations Act and the Railway Labor Act to repeal those provisions that permit employers, pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement that is a union security agreement, to require employees to join a union as a condition of employment including provisions permitting railroad carriers to require, pursuant to such an agreement, payroll deduction of union dues or fees as a condition of employment. This is a phony bill that advocates to preserve and protect the free choice of individual employees to form, join, or assist labor organizations, or to refrain from such activities.

The bill was introduced by a group of 33 Congressmen who are the most right-wing Republicans in the U.S. Congress who are trying to destroy labor unions and most important the union shop provisions under the Railway Labor Act. One Democrat Ralph Hall (D-TX) also joined with them.

H.R. 1109 has 124 cosponsors to date. On 3/20/01 the bill was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and on 5/20/01 the bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations.

Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) introduced an identical bill in the Senate S. 873 on 5/14/01. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. No further action was taken and these bills died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU and the AFL-CIO strongly opposed these bills)

H.R. 141 – Surface Transportation Board Reform Act of 2001 : On 1/3/01 Congressman James Oberstar (D-MN) introduced H.R. 141 a bill to authorize appropriations for the Surface Transportation Board, to enhance railroad competition, to protect collective bargaining agreements, and for other purposes.

The bill amends Federal transportation law to declare as primary objectives for U.S. rail transportation policy to ensuring effective competition, maintaining reasonable rates, maintaining consistent and efficient service to shippers and ensuring that smaller carload and intermodal shippers are not precluded from assessing rail systems due to volume requirements.

The bill requires the Board in a proceeding involving the approval of the merger or control of at least two Class I railroads to consider, among other things, at least the: (1) safety and environmental effects of the proposed transaction; and (2) the effect of such transaction on rail passenger transportation and enhance railroad competition, to protect collective bargaining agreements.

On 1/3/01 H.R. 141 was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) and on 1/4/01 the bill was referred to the T&I Subcommittee on Railroads. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned.

H.R. 4054 and S. 2673 ? Amends the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act: On 3/20/02 Congressman Sam Johnson (R-TX) introduced H.R. 4054 a bill to provide for civil monetary penalties on labor unions for violations of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRD).

TCU and the AFL-CIO strongly oppose this witch-hunt legislation. The bill amends the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 to authorize the Secretary of Labor, upon finding a violation of specified reporting and disclosure requirements and specifies review procedures.

On July 18, 2002, the Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations marked-up H.R. 4054, which would impose additional penalties on labor unions for violations of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA). TCU and the AFL-CIO strongly oppose this legislation.

On 7/18/02 the bill was adopted on a vote of 8-5. The Labor Department already has authority to audit union financial statements on a random basis, to sue unions for injunctive relief to mandate compliance with the LMRDA, and to impose criminal sanctions against union officers for violations of the LMRDA, including fines up to $10,000 and up to one-year imprisonment. Unions are subject to such stiff penalties despite the fact that the vast majority of them operate with volunteer staff who lack business or accounting experience, are much smaller than corporations covered by SEC reporting requirements, and already bear a grossly disproportionate reporting burden?compared to employers under the LMRDA and compared to corporations under the SEC.

By creating additional penalties that would be applied overwhelmingly against unions rather than employers, H.R. 4054 would only exacerbate this disproportionate burden. It is equally important to understand the disproportionate burden the LMRDA already places on unions relative to employers. In April 2001 the Bush Administration seriously weakened the few reporting requirements the LMRDA does impose on employers by reversing a decision of the previous administration to require employers to report one of the most common forms of union-busting activity. While dues and fees established by the reporting organization, including minimum and maximum rates, there is no SEC requirement to present comparable customer data. Given the existing grossly disproportionate burden of LMRDA reporting requirements on unions as compared to employers, it would be highly unfair to target unions with additional penalties without imposing comparable obligations on employers.

For these reasons, TCU and the AFL-CIO strongly oppose H.R. 4054. On 7/10/02 on a vote of 55-43 in the Senate Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) failed an attempt to pass a similar Amendment that would have applied new auditing requirements to union financial disclosure forms under Senate bill S. 2673. No further action was taken and this bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU strongly opposed this bill)

H.R. 4761 – Railroad Safety Reform Act of 2002: On 5/16/02 Congressman James Oberstar (D-MN) introduced H.R. 4761 along with four cosponsors. The bill reforms the safety practices of the railroad industry, to prevent railroad fatalities, injuries, and hazardous materials releases.

On 5/16/02 the bill was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) and on 5/17/02 it was referred to the T&I Subcommittee on Railroads.

H.R. 4761 is similar to H.R. 2450 a bill he had introduced in the 106th Congress. Among other topics, the bill addresses railroad employee fatigue, discrimination against employees for reporting safety problems or injuries, and Department of Transportation Federal Railway Administration rulemaking. No further action was taken and the bill died when the 107th Congress adjourned. (TCU supported)

H.R. 5764 – Resolution Of Certain Labor Issues Relating To The Merger Of The Metro North Railroad And The Long Island Railroad: On 11/22/02, Congressman Bob Etheridge (D-NC) introduced H.R. 5764. The bill was referred to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The bill extinguishes collective bargaining agreements between the Association of Commuter Rail Employees (ACRE) and Metro North upon the railroads merging and provides for resolution of certain labor issues relating to the merger of the Metro North Railroad and the Long Island Railroad.

This bill was introduced late in the session and died when the 107th Congress adjourned.

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