"The House Appropriations Committee has said ''no'' to the hundreds of thousands of American workers who suffer from debilitating musculoskeletal injuries that could be prevented by the new ergonomics standard OSHA has proposed," commented Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman.
Herman was responding to the House Appropriations Committee''s action this week to adopt an amendment to the Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations bill by Rep. Anne Northup, R-Ken., that would prohibit OSHA from using appropriated funds to promulgate, issue, implement, administer or enforce any ergonomic standard.
"Ergonomics programs help employers raise productivity, prevent injuries and disability to their employees, and reduce the cost of workers'' compensation," said Herman. "OSHA must be allowed to complete work on this important rule. American workers have already waited too long."
Herman went on to say how the House bill reported out of full committee this week is unacceptable.
According to Herman, the President has said that he would veto it in its current form.
"The funding levels for vital worker programs must be restored, and the prohibition against moving forward on OSHA''s ergonomics rule must be deleted in any final action on the FY 2001 Labor/HHS/ED appropriations bill," said Herman.
It is important to note the Northup amendment is a funding limitation and not a legislative rider. Moreover, this amendment will not affect funding for other OSHA operations.
OSHA was not the only agency dealt a blow by the House. A House Appropriations Subcommittee cut 9 percent of EPA''s basic environmental and public health programs with its funding decisions.
"A cut of this magnitude will seriously affect the agency''s ability to fulfill its promise to the American people to protect public health and environment through sound science, environmental enforcement and programs to provide communities with cleaner water, air and an improved quality of life," according to EPA.
By continuing to reduce the amount available for Superfund cleanups, the Subcommittee would delay the cleanup of toxic waste sites.
In addition, the Subcommittee has refused to endorse a number of initiatives proposed by the President, including $50 million to clean up the Great Lakes, the drinking water source for 25 million Americans, and efforts to build a strong information system between EPA and the states, said an EPA statement.
by Virginia Sutcliffe