Senate Republicans kill Railroad
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers learned on October 26 that the
Railroad Retirement & Survivors Improvement Act of 2000, H.R. 4844,
would not become law this year as the Senate will not vote on it before
adjourning for the year.
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS), with the backing of three ultra-
conservative Senators, refused to attach 4844 to any bill. However, in an
act of support for the nation's rail carriers, Lott attached the 4.3 cent
diesel fuel tax repeal measure to a separate tax bill, H.R. 2614.
Senators Pete Domenici (R-NM), Phil Gramm (R-TX) and Don Nickles (R-OK)
successfully convinced Senator Lott to hold the bill from consideration
by the full Senate.
Their opposition was based on two factors. One was a desire by ultra-conservative legislators to completely privatize the Railroad Retirement system as a prelude to a plan to privatize Social Security. The second concerns the fact that - under the federal government's unitary budget scoring system - transfers of Railroad Retirement funds from the U.S. Treasury to the new Railroad Retirement Trust Fund could be scored as a reduction in assets on the federal books.
Presidential election still too
close to call
The outcome of the tightest Presidential election in U.S. history was
still undecided as this issue of the Locomotive Engineer Newsletter went
With 47 states reporting, Al Gore leads George W. Bush in the Electoral
College vote 255 to 246. Of the three states that have not been called,
however, Florida is the only one that matters. With its 25 electoral votes,
the candidate who claims Florida will have the necessary 270 electoral votes
required to become President. (Oregon and New Mexico combine for only 13
electoral votes, and neither would effect the outcome of this election.)
When all of the ballots had been counted in all of the precincts in Florida,
Bush had 1,784 more votes than Gore - a tiny margin considering the large
numbers of people who voted in the entire state.
Because the difference between the two candidates was less than one-half
of one percent, the ballots had to be recounted, in accordance with Florida
law. So on November 8, recounting began in all of Florida's 67 counties.
When it was over, Bush led Gore by only 300 votes out of nearly 6 million
cast, according to Florida's Secretary of State. Although this seemed as
if Bush "won" the state, the numbers didn't take into account
Engineers overwhelmingly approve SEPTA contract
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers General Chairman Steve Bruno reports
that BLE members on Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)
have overwhelmingly ratified a new contract.
Four BLE members elected on November 7
Four BLE members were elected to political office on November 7, but a potential fifth lost in a race similar to the Al Gore versus George W. Bush nail-biter in Florida.