1995 Scorecard Vote
Claiming to reform the way federal agencies adopt regulations to protect human health, environmental quality, consumers, and workers, Senate Majority Leader Robert Dole (R-KS) sponsored S. 343, a bill that would undercut existing legal safeguards and make it difficult to write the new regulations that laws require.
S. 343 would massively expand the analysis that agencies must do before issuing a regulation, even as their budgets are being reduced. To issue most new protections, agencies would have to complete detailed cost-benefit analyses, not just of the proposed rule and likely alternatives, but of any alternatives proposed by industry.
S. 343 would make it easier for businesses to eliminate safeguards through legal maneuvering. Minor flaws in the cost-benefit analysis could force a proposal to be set aside, as could an argument that a new alternative would be marginally cheaper or more convenient for industry. If a regulation were invalidated, no safeguards would protect the public until the rule-making process is repeated.
The bill would allow companies to file unlimited petitions to revise current rules -- petitions that would require analysis and response regardless of competing priorities for agency staff or resources.
The bill would empower regulators and industry to enter into new agreements, even sweetheart deals, waiving existing safeguards. Agencies could issue secret letters immunizing facilities against penalties. The public would have no recourse against abuses.
Majority Leader Dole brought his bill before the Senate for 11 days of debate over a four-week period. Among the many recorded votes, four are judged most important.
Senator Herbert Kohl (D-WI) offered an amendment to exempt from the bill's requirements new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules to control health risks from microbes in drinking water. He argued that it could prevent the recurrence of a Cryptosporidium outbreak such as the one in Milwaukee in 1993 that killed 104 and made 400,000 people ill.
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) moved to table (kill) the Kohl amendment. On July 12, 1995, the Senate agreed to the Hatch motion 50 - 48. NO is the pro-environment vote.