US Senate Captions

THE FIRST SESSION OF THE 107TH CONGRESS

1.

Ergonomics Rule on OSHA (S. J. Res 6)Using the Congressional Review Act (CRA) for the first time, the Republican controlled Senate passed the first health and safety standard nullification in OSHA’s 30-year history.  The so-called “resolution of disapproval” not only eliminates the current ergonomics standard, it also prohibits OSHA from issuing another similar rule unless Congress gives subsequent permission.  This makes it extremely unlikely that OSHA will set a strong standard to protect workers from ergonomic hazards any time in the near future.  Under the previous law OSHA standards prevented hundreds of thousands of injuries each year by requiring employers to implement ergonomics programs and fix jobs where musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) occur.  On March 6, 2001 the rule was adopted 56-44.   A vote against S. J. Res 6 is a right (R) vote.

2.

Campaign Finance Reform/Paycheck Deception (S 27)Motion by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to table (kill) the Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) amendment, which would require unions to obtain permission from dues-paying members before spending money on political activities.  This amendment would weaken and discourage union membership participation in the political process.  A “nay” was a vote for the McCain motion which had the support of President Bush.  On March 21, 2001 the motion to agree to kill the amendment was adopted on a vote of 69-31.  A vote to table the amendment is a right (R) vote.

3.

Campaign Finance Reform/Union and Corporate Disclosure (S 27)Motion by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to table (kill) the Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) amendment to require corporations and unions that spend money on political activities to provide detailed disclosure of funds spent on political activities to the corporation’s shareholders or labor organization’s members.  This amendment would further restrict union participation in the political process by putting stringent reporting restrictions on labor unions.  On March 22, 2001 the motion to table (kill) the amendment was adopted on a vote of 60-40.  A vote to table the amendment is a right (R) vote.

4.

Campaign Finance Overhaul/Union Dues (S 27)Motion by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to table (kill) the Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) amendment to require labor organizations to notify dues-paying members on an annual basis that the Supreme Court has ruled that they have a right to withhold the portion of their dues that is used for purposes unrelated to collective bargaining.  This is another misleading Republican right-wing attempt to weaken the union political process between the union and its members.  On March 23, 2001 the motion to table (kill) the amendment was adopted on a vote of 53-40.  A vote to table the amendment is a right (R) vote.

5.

Patients Rights/Liability Exemptions (S 1052)An amendment by Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX) that would exclude employers and other plan sponsors from liability without exceptions.  This amendment would severely weaken patient rights under health care plans.  TCU supports a genuine bill of rights without phony provisions that affect collectively bar gained health care plans.  On June 26, 2001 the amendment was rejected on a vote of 43-57.  A vote against the amendment is a right (R) vote.

6.

Patients Bill of Rights/Collective Bargaining Agreements (S 1052)Motion by Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) to table (kill) an amendment by Senator Don Nickles (R-OK) that strikes the provisions in the bill that would provide that the effective date for collective bargaining agreements to comply with the bill is on the expiration of the agreements.  It would insert language in the bill that would provide that the effective date for plans covered by collective bargaining agreements would be phased in by plan years beginning October 1, 2002.  On June 29, 2001 the motion to agree to kill the amendment was adopted on a vote of 54-44.  A vote to table the amendment is a right (R) vote. 

7.

National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)/Restricts Free Speech Rights of Labor Unions (HR 3061) – The Senate rejected an amendment by Senator Tim Hutchinson (R-AR) that would have allowed employers to unfairly restrict the free speech rights of labor unions.  Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), if employers allow organizations, including charities, to distribute materials to or solicit contributions from employees and customers on their site, they must provide the same access to labor unions.  Although proponents of this amendment argued that employers needed it in order to be able to allow charities to solicit funds for the victims of the September 11th attacks on their sites, employers can do this now under current law.  Thus, the proponents of this amendment were simply trying to use the September 11th terrorist attacks to discriminate against labor unions.  On November 1, 2001 the Senate rejected the amendment on a vote of 40-59.  A vote against the amendment is a right (R) vote.  

8.

Railroad Retirement/Direct Scorekeeping on Pension Contribution Limits (HR 10) -Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) introduced a killer amendment to the Tom Daschle (D-SD) substitute amendment.  The Domenici amendment would strike the “direct scorekeeping” provision in the substitute, which would mandate that railroad trust purchases be scored as a means of financing rather than a cash outlay (15 billion dollars to the budget deficit preventing passage of the legislation).  The substitute amendment would strike the text of the underlying bill and insert language that would create a railroad retirement board that would have the authority to invest the pension system’s $15.3 billion in Treasury bonds in higher-yielding private equities.  On December 4, 2001 the amendment was rejected on a vote of 40-59.  A vote against the Domenici amendment is a right (R) vote.  

9.

Railroad Retirement/Pension Contribution Limits-Account Benefits Ratio (HR 10)Senator Don Nickles (R-OK) introduced a killer amendment to the Tom Daschle (D-SD) substitute amendment.  The Nickles amendment would require the average account benefits ratio computation be based on a five-year rolling average rather than the 10-year rolling average.  The substitute amendment would strike the text of the underlying bill and insert language that would create a railroad retirement board that would have the authority to invest the pension system’s $15.3 billion in Treasury bonds in higher-yielding private equities.  This killer amendment would have required the legislation to go to a conference committee killing the legislation for this year.  On December 4, 2001 the Nickles amendment was rejected on a vote of 27-72.  A vote against the Nickles amendment is a right (R) vote.  

10.

Railroad Retirement Investment Trust Fund/Pension Contribution Limits (HR 10)Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX) introduced a killer amendment to the Tom Daschle (D-SD) substitute amendment.  The Gramm amendment would provide that any reduction in a tax or increase in benefits in the railroad retirement system would take effect to the degree that the Treasury secretary finds that actual earnings of the Railroad Retirement Investment Trust Fund are sufficient to fund them.  The substitute amendment would strike the text of the underlying bill and insert language that would create a railroad retirement board that would have the authority to invest the pension system’s $15.3 billion in Treasury bonds in higher-yielding private equities.  This amendment would have prevented the payment of all new benefits and early retirement for several decades into the future.  On December 4, 2001 the amendment was rejected on a vote of 21-78.  A vote against the Gramm amendment is a right (R) vote.  

11.

Railroad Retirement/Pension Contribution Limit (HR 10)Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) motioned to waive the Budget Act with respect to Senator Don Nickles (R-OK) point of order against the Tom Daschle (D-SD) substitute amendment that would strike the text of the underlying bill and insert language that would create a railroad retirement board that would have the authority to invest the pension system’s $15.3 billion in Treasury bonds in higher-yielding private equities.  Senator Nickles entered a point of order against the bill to kill it.  Senator Daschle moved to waive the point of order.  Note:  A three-fifths majority vote (60) of the total Senate is required to waive the Budget Act.  On December 5, 2001 the Baucus motion to wave the point of order was agreed to on a vote of 80-19.  A vote for the Baucus motion is a right (R) vote.