Coal Tattoo

GOP blocks Senate action on mine safety bill

After yesterday’s speeches by West Virginia Democratic Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Carte Goodwin, Wyoming Republican Michael Enzi — the ranking GOP member of the Senate Labor Committee — blocked immediate passage by the Senate of the latest mine safety reform bill. Sen. Rockefeller had sought to have the Senate approve the bill by unanimous consent. A companion bill in the House has been approved by that body’s Labor Committee, but hasn’t been brought to the floor yet.

Sen. Enzi complained that Rockfeller and Goodwin were just trying to create a political issue, rather than really trying to move the legislation forward:

As my colleagues well know, negotiations had been making significant progress until we ran into a stumbling block known as the election cycle. The staffs of seven Senators had been meeting several times a aweek for over 2 months and all throughout the recess period. Agreements had been formed on over a dozen important proposals, and several more important ones were right on the brink of compromise when the talks were abruptly called off until after the election.

Despite what has been said in the press and on this floor, the simple fact is that we might well have had an agreement by now if the majority hadn’t decided that they would rather have an election issue. Certainly, it is not for me to consult on the political calculations of my colleagues. but it seems to me that political theater and failing to work together to get important things like this done are exactly what the American people are so frustrated by this year.