WASHINGTON (PAI) – In a vote that was strictly for show, the Democratic-run House still failed on Dec. 8 to pass a major job safety-mine safety bill.

The legislation, which would have vastly increased fines the Occupational Safety and Health Administration could levy against wrongdoers and which would make a job safety violation that killed a worker into a felony punishable by jail time, needed a two-thirds vote for approval under special fast-track rules short-circuiting debate.

It didn’t get close: 213 Democrats and one Republican voted for it, and 27 Democrats and 166 Republicans opposed it.

House Democrats brought it up, along with other legislation, knowing full well it was going nowhere in the Senate.

The job safety bill wasn’t the only one that went down in flames in the House. Another piece of Democratic-sponsored legislation, to award a $250 payment to Social Security recipients, railroad retirees and others who will not see a cost-of-living increase next year, also flopped.

It, too, needed a two-thirds majority. It garnered votes from 228 Democrats and 26 Republicans, and opposition from 12 Democrats and 141 Republicans.

Defeat of the job safety-mine safety bill disappointed Obama administration Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, a former California congresswoman.

“This commonsense legislation would be an important step forward in strengthening safety laws for our nation’s miners,” she said. It “would compel the worst of the worst in the mining industry to change how they treat their miners…The tremendous need for this legislation continues. Every day, the lives of miners are needlessly being put at risk. That should be unacceptable to every single member of Congress. All workers deserve to come home safe at the end of a shift.”



Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.