The fate of the Dole-Johnston "regulatory reform" bill, the
flagship of the War on the Environment, was uncertain as The
Planet went to press.
In a major victory for environmentalists, the sweeping
proposal - which would effectively gut the nation's health,
safety and environmental laws by subjecting them to
draconian "risk assessment" and "cost benefit" analyses -
lost its third consecutive vote July 20 in the Senate. Three
times majority leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.) has tried to round
up the necessary votes to end debate on the measure, and
three times he has failed.
"I think the die has been cast," said Dole, angry and
frustrated after his last attempt to get cloture and move
the measure to a final vote on the Senate floor. Louisiana's
Bennett Johnston, the bill's Democratic sponsor, called the
effort "a lost cause."
But Dole was threatening to bring the bill back for yet
another vote at press time. There still appeared to be some
possibility of a compromise with Democrats - many of whom
are at pains to appear sympathetic to regulatory reform -
that could ultimately send a modified version of the bill to
the White House.
President Clinton has promised to veto the legislation,
which Vice President Gore said "sells out to special
interests and puts the health and safety of all Americans at
risk." But there were indications the president, too, was
seeking a compromise with GOP leaders.
Bruce Hamilton, the Club's national conservation director,
called the Dole-Johnston proposal "the most anti-
environmental bill ever to come before the most anti-
environmental Senate." And he said that despite uncertainty
over the measure's future, Dole's failure could mark a
turning point in the 104th Congress' War on the Environment.
"Dole's anti-environmental supporters have spent millions of
dollars trying to pass this bill," Hamilton said. "If we
prevail, it will be a huge loss for polluters. It will be
huge victory not just for environmentalists, but for the
For an update on the bill's status, please call the Sierra
Club's Legislative Hotline at (202) 675-2394.
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