Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Congress’

Flickr photo by Thiophene_Guy

As Congress plods through its lame-duck session, the prospects of the Robert C. Byrd Mine Safety and Health Act getting a vote on the House floor are doubtful. In the Senate, they’re nonexistent. Despite the life-saving, job-saving, and even money-saving measures contained in the legislation, the bill will likely die this Congress and the issue of mine and workplace safety will fade from congressional and national consciousness until the next horrific disaster.

In a year where multiple high-profile workplace tragedies–Upper Big Branch Mine, Deepwater Horizon, Tesoro Refinery, Kleen Energy–captured news cycles and Congress’ attention, it is deeply disappointing to watch the prospects for passage dim. Before Congress adjourned in September, the bill passed out of the House Education and Labor Committee and was placed on the calendar for a vote. It has languished since then. In the Senate, Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia attempted to bring the bill to the Senate floor for debate but was blocked by Republican Senator Mike Enzi. (more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

With several pieces of high-stakes legislation before Congress during this brief session, Public Citizen activists are pulling out all the stops with emails and calls urging their public servants to pass critical good government and worker safety laws.

Activists turned up the pressure on moderate Republican senators to vote for the DISCLOSE Act, a bill designed to combat some effects of Citizens United v. FEC.

The activists left dozens of comments to report back after calling Sens. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), George Voinovich (R-Ohio), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).

The Supreme Court decision gave corporations the power to spend as much as they want to influence elections, and most of this money undisclosed. Instead, it’s being funneled through groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove’s American Crossroads. (Our new report details this alarming lack of transparency.)

The DISCLOSE Act – which we believe is just one vote short of the 60 needed to break the Republican filibuster – would provide full disclosure of corporate, union and wealthy funding sources behind political advertising, extends the disclosure window to cover most of an election period, and tightens restrictions on political ads by government contractors and foreign entities.

The Fair Elections Now Act, another bill that would seriously mitigate the effects of Citizens United v. FEC, is coming up for a vote tomorrow by the House Administration Committee.

Ahead of this vote, activists called and emailed their Representatives in the House, urging them to fix the our system of financing congressional elections so that public servants answer to the people, not corporations and other wealthy special interests alone. (more…)

Read Full Post »

An editorial in yesterday’s New York Times calls on Congress to take action on pending mine and workplace safety legislation before another tragedy like the Upper Big Branch mine disaster or the Deepwater Horizon explosion occurs.

The House and Senate are each considering similar versions of the “Robert C. Byrd Mine Safety and Health Act,” legislation that would promote safer workplaces by protecting whistleblowers who report unsafe conditions, increasing penalties for mine and workplace operators who endanger the lives of their workers, and giving the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) more authority to force employers to quickly abate hazardous conditions.

Earlier this summer, the House voted its bill out of committee and it currently awaits a floor vote. As usual, the Senate is moving at a slower pace. Public Citizen has called on Congress to take action to reduce the 5,000 worker fatalities that happen each year by passing this important legislation.

For more information on this legislation, check out our fact sheet, letter to Congress, and backgrounder (all are in PDF format). Or view the text of the House and Senate bills.

Read Full Post »

A new video from our friends at FairElectionsNow.org features real people describing in their own words the profound impact of corporate corruption in Washington. You can see from the video that big agriculture, corporate coal and BP are all playing the money game to make government work for them and not the American public.

As long as members of Congress must rely on donations from corporations and lobbyists to fund their campaigns, these special interests will continue to have a huge advantage over real people when it comes to finding policy solutions for the people’s problems.

After you watch the video, urge your members of Congress to end the political money chase by supporting public financing of elections via the Fair Elections Now Act at http://www.citizen.org/supportfairelectionsnow.

Read Full Post »

America’s Finest News Source, The Onion, reports on a new “environmental catastrophe”:

PORT FOURCHON, LA—In what may be the greatest environmental disaster in the nation’s history, the supertanker TI Oceania docked without incident at the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port Monday and successfully unloaded 3.1 million barrels of dangerous crude oil into the United States.

and later in the article:

Experts are saying the oil tanker safely reaching port could lead to dire ecological consequences on multiple levels, including rising temperatures, disappearing shorelines, the eradication of countless species, extreme weather events, complete economic collapse, droughts that surpass the Dust Bowl, disease, wildfires, widespread human starvation, and endless, bloody wars fought over increasingly scarce resources.

It is scary to think that a satirical article could be so incredibly accurate. As people such as Jon Stewart remind us almost every night, sometimes humor can be the best illuminator of the the truth. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Today, the House passed the Offshore Oil and Gas Worker Whistleblower Protection Act of 2010, a bill designed to improve the safety of offshore drilling rigs by allowing employees to alert superiors and safety inspectors of dangerous working conditions without fear of retaliation or discrimination. The bill will also protect employees who refuse to work in unsafe conditions. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Political cartoonist Tom Toles has an excellent cartoon in today’s Washington Post about DISCLOSE and Citizens United.

By pointing out the importance of knowledge, Toles suggests something important about one of the fundamental pillars of our country. The media shapes the national debate. From discussions around the dinner table at home to debates in corporate boardrooms, this country is driven by the stories on television, in newspapers, books, magazines, on the radio, etc. Knowledge, as Toles notes, is power. Therefore those who control what knowledge we get and what knowledge remains hidden have immense power.

So even if Congress and the Supreme Court do not protect our right to know what our government does and who is behind its actions, the media has the ability to correct that wrong. In fact, the media must tell the country who are involved and what they are doing. To put it colloquially, the media has to tell us what’s up.

Some readers might see an immediate problem. There is a serious conflict of interest in the media. The media is funded almost exclusively by corporations running advertisements alongside the news. One can see how this precarious situation might pose a very serious dilemma.

Luckily for us, we have one more tool for those times (and they are increasingly more frequent) when the media fails to report or misrepresents an important issue. We have each other. We can fact-check and report stories on blogs,  Twitter, Facebook and in so many different ways. We can petition the government and media outlets for fairer reporting and for more transparency. Public Citizen fights for all people, because, as global citizens, people are the ones who must run the world.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »