Who's in Charge? Congress or OSHA

Feb. 23, 2001
Find out why supporters of the Congressional Review Act, which gives Congress the authority to kill OSHA's ergonomics rule, face an uphill battle.

There are two other reasons why supporters of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) face an uphill battle in Congress.

The CRA gives Congress the authority to kill the ergonomics standard this spring, well before the rule''s October compliance date.

Support for the ergonomics rider last year was a relatively easy vote because lawmakers knew President Clinton would never go along with it anyway. The stakes are much higher now that a Republican president is in the White House.

In addition, business-friendly Republicans have even slimmer majorities in Congress this year than they did last year, when they just eked out a victory on the ergonomics rider, with the help of a handful of Democrats.

"It will be a hot-button issue for our membership," said a labor lobbyist deeply involved in the debate. "We don''t have to educate our people on this one -- very few workers do not know someone with an ergonomics injury."

Prospects for success look better in the Senate. Sen. Michael Enzi, R-Wyo., is the only lawmaker so far to state publicly his support for this move, and one Washington insider said he is assuming the measure will reach the Senate floor.

At a Feb. 20 Washington, D.C., press briefing National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Vice President Pat Cleary pulled out an argument he hopes will be effective in the halls of Congress, where "procedure" -- or the preservation of power -- often trumps other considerations.

"Congress clearly spoke to OSHA last year and said, "Do not issue this regulation. They issued it anyway."

In the weeks ahead, Cleary said he and his allies will be asking lawmakers, "Well, Congress, who really is in charge? You or OSHA?"

by James Nash

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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