Anthrax scare slows S. 697 action

Following a temporary suspension of lobbying efforts as a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, Rail Labor resumed the fight for passage of S. 697 in early October.

However, lobbying efforts for the Railroad Retirement and Survivors’ Improvement Act of 2001 have been hampered by the recent anthrax scare in Washington, D.C., and the close of several House and Senate office buildings.

A letter carrying anthrax was opened in the office of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) on Oct. 15, forcing the shutdown of the entire Hart Senate building — and all five other House and Senate office buildings — two days later.

In spite of these obstacles, Rail Labor lobbyists have secured 75 Senate cosponsors for the bill. BLE lobbyists are working in conjunction with a coalition of lobbyists representing all of rail labor.

At meetings with Senate representatives on November 6, a number of options were discussed with Senate leaders, including making S. 697 a part of a wrap-up bill that may be considered at the end of the current legislative session.

To make sure the bill is acted upon this year, BLE and GIA members are asked to contact Senator Daschle at his home offices in South Dakota. As Senate Majority Leader, Senator Daschle has the power to move S. 697 into a position where the 75 Senate cosponsors can vote for it.

Senator Daschle has three district offices in South Dakota that members can call:

• Aberdeen, (605) 225-8823;
• Sioux Falls, (605) 334-9596; and
• Rapid City, (605) 348-7551.

If passed into law, S. 697 would reduce the vesting requirement under the Railroad Retirement system from 10 years to five, would eliminate the actuarial reduction for those who retire prior to age 62, and would increase surviving spouses’ annuities.

In late July, the House version of the bill, H.R. 1140, was passed by a large bipartisan majority, 384-33.

For up-to-the-minute news on this evolving situation, please stay tuned to the BLE website at: www.ble.org.

The 25 Senators who are not cosponsoring this legislation are listed below:

S. 697 Non-cosponsors
1. Allard, Wayne (R-CO)
2. Bennett, Robert (R-UT)
3. Bunning, Jim (R-KY)
4. Campbell, B.N. (R-CO)
5. Domenici, Pete (R-NM)
6. Feingold, Russell (D-WI)
7. Gramm, Phil (R-TX) *
8. Grassley, Chuck (R-IA) *
9. Gregg, Judd (R-NH)
10. Hutchison, K.B. (R-TX)
11. Inhofe, James (R-OK)
12. Kohl, Herb (D-WI)
13. Kyl, Jon (R-AZ) *
14. Lott, Trent (R-MS) *
15. Lugar, Richard (R-IN)
16. McCain, John (R-AZ)
17. Murkowski, F. (R-AK) *
18. Nickles, Don (R-OK) *
19. Santorum, Rick (R-PA)
20. Sessions, Jeff (R-AL)
21. Stevens, Ted (R-AK)
22. Thomas, Craig (R-WY) *
23. Thompson, Fred (R-TN) *
24. Voinovich, George (R-OH)
25. Wyden, Ron (D-OR)

* — Member of Senate Finance Committee.

 

2001 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers