- The DC restaurant industry is not happy with congressional efforts to prohibit lobbyists from treating lawmakers and their staff to meals, according to the Los Angeles Times. In response to this attempt at reforming lobbying the restaurant industry has dispatched its own team of lobbyists to lobby Congress to allow lobbyists to be able to spend freely for lawmakers’ meals.
- What happens when you violate safety laws, don’t pay fines, and oppose increased oversight? The Hill reports that you get tax breaks: “After fatal mining accidents this year, the mining industry is on the verge of winning tax breaks to help pay for new safety technologies as it lobbies against government-imposed safety requirements.” Back in January the Washington Post reported that, “the Bush administration abandoned or delayed implementation of 18 proposed safety rules that were in the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration's regulatory pipeline in early 2001”.
- President Bush’s Faith and Community Based Initiative is directing millions of dollars into organizations run by his religious right supporters, according to the Washington Post. Rep. Mark Souter (R-IN) says that the program has “gone political” and Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX) asserts, “I believe ultimately this will be seen as one of the largest patronage programs in American history.” Outspoken televangelist Pat Robertson’s Operation Blessing received tens of millions of dollars; “local antiabortion and crisis pregnancy centers have received well over $60 million in grants for abstinence education and other programs;” Shepherd Smith, the strategist for Robertson’s 1988 presidential bid, received $7.5 million; many of the recipients of federal grants were “influential supporters of Bush's presidential campaigns.”
- Prosecutors in the Tom DeLay (R-TX) money laundering case are trying to get two charges reinstated against the troubled former Majority Leader, according to the Associated Press. Meanwhile, the Houston Chronicle reports that DeLay believes that the charges are just political theater and prosecutor Ronnie Earle will throw out the charges after the 2006 midterm elections.
A new study on a Bush Administration policy that lets loggers move in and clear out trees in the wake of a forest fire demonstrates that the policy “has harmed forest recovery and increased fire risk,” according to the Washington Post. The study, “consistent with research findings from around the world,” was printed in Science magazine and has come under direct fire by the Administration – the Bureau of Land Management, which paid for the study, temporarily cut-off the final year of a $300,000 three-year grant to the scientists – and from Congressmen with industry-friendly legislation under consideration. Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), a top recipient of logging industry money, called the scientists to testify on their criticism of his “bill pending in Congress that would ease procedures for post-fire logging in federal forests.”Continue reading
Two Bush Administration officials have ties to the Dubai firm DP World that is set to take over port security in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Miami, and Baltimore, according to the New York Daily News. The President tapped David Sanborn, the head of DP World’s European and Latin American operations, to lead the Maritime Administration last month. Also, Treasury Secretary John Snow’s former company, CSX Rail, sold its international port operations to DP World. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), “The more you look at this deal, the more the deal is called into question.”Continue reading
Thirty-five Senate Democrats and Independent James Jeffords (I-VT) called on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the scandal surrounding Jack Abramoff. The New York Times reports that the Senators declared that the appointment of a special prosecutor was necessary because of “Mr. Abramoff's significant ties to Republican leadership in Congress and allegations of improper activity involving administration officials.”Continue reading
Six years ago when the Bush Administration took office they “abandoned or delayed” 18 mine safety rules and implemented a self-regulatory approach for the mining industry. According to the Washington Post, two of those safety rules scuttled by the Administration may have been able to prevent the death of twelve miners in the Sago mine. These rules were to include “mandatory caches of oxygen tanks and breathing masks inside every mine” and to expand the number of rescue teams. Mine-safety experts claim that a lack of oxygen reserves and a slow response led to the deaths at Sago in West Virginia. After the Sago disaster two more miners were killed at the Alma mine in West Virginia when their conveyor belt caught fire. In 2002, the Administration abandoned a proposal to find ways to make the conveyor belts fire-proof.Continue reading