H.R. 1140 now up to 118 co-sponsors
CLEVELAND, March 23 -- As of noon today, 118 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed on as co-sponsors of H.R. 1140, the Railroad Retirement and Survivors' Improvement Act of 2001.
In general terms, two-thirds of the members of Congress must support a measure in order for it to have a legitimate chance to pass. With 118 co-sponsors in the House, H.R. 1140 will need at least 132 more supporters in order to reach the important plateau of 250. Last year, H.R. 4844 had 305 consponsors and was approved by a 391-25 majority.
In a news release yesterday, Republican Jack Quinn (NY) emphasized the importance of the H.R. 1140.
"This legislation is critical to the hundreds of thousands of retired rail employees and their families across the country," said Quinn, the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Railroads. "Coming from a railroad family, I have seen first-hand the amount of hard work and long hours that goes into working on a railroad."
In spite of the success rail labor lobbyists have enjoyed in the House thus far, statements contained in President George W. Bush's budget proposal, "A Blueprint for New Beginnings," give the distinct impression that the White House may stand opposed to the Railroad Retirement package.
"The railroad retirement system's pension program is not fully funded like other private industry pension plans; indeed, there is a $39.7 billion unfunded liability," Bush states in his budget proposal. "Any examination of the program should set as first priorities ending taxpayer subsidies to the program and ensuring the industry funds its workers' pensions."
In a strongly worded letter, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure defended H.R. 1140 and questioned the accuracy of Bush's statements.
"The Committee is disappointed by the statement concerning the Railroad Retirement system in the FY 2002 President's Budget," the letter states. "This statement implies that the Railroad Retirement system is receiving massive federal subsidies and is not capable of meeting its future pension obligations. This is not true."
Regardless of the dubious validity of the statements contained in Bush's budget proposal, the possibility of further battles to insure passage of H.R. 1140 remains a real possibility.
A copy of the bill is available on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee website at: http://www.house.gov/transportation/rail/retirement.pdf
BLE members are urged to contact their member of Congress and ask that they co-sponsor H.R. 1140, the Railroad Retirement and Survivors' Improvement Act of 2001. Correspondence should be addressed to:
What follows is a list of co-sponsors of H.R. 1140, as of March 23, 2001:
© 2001 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers