The lawmakers requested similar hearings 3 years ago – in September 2003 – after published reports indicated that the Environmental Protection Agency had given assurances to workers about air quality at Ground Zero that turned out to be inaccurate. They made a second request for hearings in July 2006 to examine whether OSHA suspended important safety regulations at the World Trade Center site in 2001 and in communities affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.
In both cases, the requests for hearings were rejected.
"It is shameful that this ommittee has neglected its oversight responsibility regarding the health and safety of rescue and recovery workers after Sept. 11 and hurricanes Katrina and Rita," the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., the chairman of the committee, requesting the hearings. The lawmakers said that the hearings were necessary so that Congress could learn what steps to take to minimize the risks faced by rescue and recovery workers in the future.
The eight Democrats who signed the letter to McKeon are Reps. George Miller, D-Calif., the senior Democrat on the committee; Major Owens, D-N.Y., the senior Democrat on the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections; Donald Payne, D-N.J.; Robert Andrews, D-N.J.; Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif.; Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y.; Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio; and Timothy Bishop, D-N.Y.