HOYER ON REPUBLICAN ATTEMPTS TO WEAKEN WORKER SAFETY REGULATIONS

For Immediate Release:

May 18, 2004

Contact:Stacey Farnen
202-225-3130

WASHINGTON – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today regarding the four Republican bills being debated on the Floor today that would weaken worker safety regulations:

“The American worker has not fared well under the Bush White House. 

“The job market is down over 2 million jobs; wages are stagnant while corporate profits are up; and health care insurance premiums continue to skyrocket.  In addition to his inaction on these pressing issues, President Bush demonstrated his disregard for workers’ well-being by proposing cuts to safety programs in each of his budgets, and he has pushed for regulations that would end overtime for millions of middle-class workers, from nursery school teachers to physical trainers.

“Now the Republicans in Congress want to weaken worker safety rules and Occupational Health and Safety Administration enforcement under the guise of cutting red tape.  This coming from a party that has added to the problem, presiding over huge increases in government paperwork with Americans last year spending over 700 million more hours filling out government paperwork than in the last year of the Clinton Administration.  Republicans also can be ‘proud’ of presiding over the largest annual increase in paperwork ever, which occurred in fiscal year 2002. 
 
“Everyone agrees that we should reduce red tape, but there is strong disagreement that turning back the clock on worker protections is the best way – or even a way – to accomplish this goal.  The Administration and Congressional Republicans expose their reflexive desire to tilt the playing field in favor of employers over workers with bills like this.  More than 60,000 Americans die on the job each year, so this issue clearly deserves serious attention and debate which it has not received.

“Once again, Republicans have taken a bipartisan goal and turned it into a ‘my-way-or-the-highway’ partisan ploy.  I would welcome the opportunity to sit down with Republicans and forge a bipartisan approach to reducing red tape that would become law and make a real difference for America’s small businesses.” 

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