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.
Senate debate on an issue can continue indefinitely without a final vote on passage unless 60 senators vote to invoke "cloture" to cut off debate. Opponents of S. 343 refused to end debate, prompting Senator Dole to file cloture petitions to try to complete debate and vote on final passage.
Three cloture votes were taken, the first two with virtually identical results. On July 18, 1995, the Senate defeated the first cloture motion 53 - 47. NO is the pro-environment vote.
On July 20, 1995, the Senate defeated the third cloture motion 58 - 40. NO is the pro-environment vote.
Following the vote, Majority Leader Dole withdrew the bill from floor consideration. This procedure allows him to bring the bill back to the floor during 1996.