Railroad Retirement bill now in Senate
(BLE Editor's Note: On the afternoon of Sept. 13, the Railroad Retirement Coalition of Rail Labor Unions fighting for passage of S. 697 announced that it would temporarily suspended all lobbying efforts for the next 10 days to two weeks in light of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks upon the United States. In the announcement, the Coalition asked that all BLE and GIA members refrain from contacting their Senators in support of S. 697 in order to allow Congress to take care of the nation's more pressing needs during this time of tragedy and mourning.
(This printed version of this Newsletter went to press the morning of Sept. 13, several hours before the Coalition's announcement was received. Therefore, the notice of delay was not included in the printed version of the publication. However, as online readership usually reviews this electronic version of the Newsletter 10 days to two weeks before the general membership receives the printed copy via U.S. Mail, it has been included here for your review.)
S. 697, the Railroad Retirement and Survivors' Improvement Act of 2001, is currently awaiting action in the Senate Finance Committee as this issue of the Newsletter goes to press.
State Legislative Board Chairmen have been contacting members of the Finance Committee in order to get that committee to vote on the bill and not support major amendments to it. The bill was introduced by Finance Committee member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). While all of the Democratic members of the Finance Committee have signed on as cosponsors of the legislation, some Republican members have not.
With 72 cosponsors, it would appear the majority of our work is done. However, that is not the case by a long shot. With a comparable number of cosponsors last year, opponents of the measure were able to use obscure Senate rules to keep the bill in committee, where it was eventually killed.
It is expected that certain Republicans may attempt a similar maneuver again this year, so it is vitally important that BLE and GIA members continue to call their Senators for support of and action on S. 697.
When contacting the Senate, please ask your Senators to not only support S. 697, but to contact their party leadership in an effort to get the legislation moving.
In addition, it is expected opponents of S. 697 will employ various delay tactics in their efforts to halt the bill from a full Senate vote. Please let your Senators know you are opposed to any amendments to the legislation.
Critical to the passage of S. 697 is support of the Senate Finance Committee. The members of this committee are listed below:
You can find their phone numbers and addresses in the blue pages of your local phone book or on the Senate website at <www.senate.gov>. The number for the Capitol switchboard is: (202) 224-3121.
The Senate has targeted October 5 as its adjournment date for the year, which gives Rail Labor and its supporters less than one month to get this much needed piece of legislation passed.
Last year, the bill was killed by the efforts of Senators Nickles, Gramm and Domenici.
The bill has 72 Senate cosponsors as of September 12. The following is a list of non-cosponsors. Members of the Senate Finance Committee are denoted with an asterisk.
© 2001 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers