Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.
I am opposed to the amendment because I am opposed to the bill.
One of the great things about Congress, I say to people, is it is the ultimate place for those of us with attention deficit disorder, because we have the privilege on a day-to-day basis to go from health care, to war, to weapons systems. Which airplane is better, the C-5 or the C-17? To go to farm issues. How about the cotton program? Is it good? Well, should we model it after the peanut program?
Then education: college, primary, private school. Should there be prayer? Should we lower the student-teacher ratio? Indeed, the President of the United States, President Clinton, stood in this Chamber once and called for school uniforms. We were experts on that for the day.
Tax policy: Who should get tax breaks and who should not? Trade policies: Which countries are going to be the best to trade with us? Immigration.
The list goes on and on and on. But, unfortunately, our expertise does not continue with the demand and the issues.
And here we are talking about popcorn. I would say to my friend from California that 99.9 percent of the Members here have never been in a popcorn factory. I listened to my friend, Mr. Miller. He knows a lot about this. I am impressed that he knows mixing rooms and building walls and so forth, but I would say most of us do not.
That is why we have agencies and commissions like OSHA set up, because they fill in the blanks where we cannot be experts. They have scientists who go in and make rulemaking policies in a balanced way, nonpolitical and nonemotional. It is scientific. They go in there and say, before we go out and set a bunch of standards on the private sector, let's make sure that we have the experts doing the decisionmaking.
And yet here we are, the nanny-state of Congress. Nurse Ratched once more knows best, completely oblivious to the fact that one of the largest manufacturers of microwave popcorn just recently said they would eliminate this product from their bands, and another manufacturer did the same thing. And even OSHA on September 24 said they will move forward with various measures to address the hazards of the workplace.
I think it is interesting that we have set up OSHA to help us, and yet we have decided now that we know popcorn and we know best.
But I would say to my friend from California, your expertise is not matched by 99 percent of us. I would say Ms. Woolsey, being a great Member who does her homework, and Mr. Wilson and the staffers who are here, you all are popcorn experts in Congress, and that's it. There are no other popcorn experts in Congress.
I think we do have some experts on trade and on taxes and on military things, but even they have to rely on agencies and organizations to give them better information. Yet we are leapfrogging over this information. I don't know if it is political or what, but we seem to be in a big rush to forget the standards that should be set by the proper agency.
Later, we will have the opportunity to vote on the Wilson alternative that would give OSHA time to set a standard that would be, after a NIOSH study, based on solid scientific evidence. It seems to me that is a more reasonable and balanced approach to solving this problem. And we are not even convinced. The data doesn't even say this problem is as big and as urgent as those who are advocating this bill are.
So I recommend a ``no'' vote on this amendment, even though I know it is technical in nature. But I think we should ultimately vote on the Wilson amendment in support of it, and then I think we should pass the bill. But if the Wilson amendment does not pass, we should vote this bill down. Because Congress is not an expert on this and we should know our limitations and we should let the proper agencies with the scientists and the experts make the rulemaking on something so micro-technical as micro-popcorn.
Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time.
I find it rather incredible that the gentleman from Georgia would come down and ridicule the idea that Congress would act in this matter when there has been such malfeasance by OSHA, by the Bush administration, and by the oversight of this Congress. I guess you can try to make light of it if you don't want to take responsibility for your actions.
What we are recommending today in this legislation is what NIOSH recommended for the protection of these workers in 2003, and it didn't happen, and nobody on the other side of the aisle asked the question: Why? So now we have workers who have worked in popcorn factories and maybe now in other manufacturing facilities that are losing their lung capacity, that are seeking lung transplants, that have died and have a disease that is called ``grotesque'' by the medical profession and who suggest,
when you get this, it is the equivalent of the damage to your lungs if you inhaled acid.
There may be something trite in that, there may be something cavalier in that, but I don't see it. I don't see it. These families, these workers, are asking for our help. These workers are dying.
The industry has tried and is asking for our help. The labor unions are asking for our help. The scientists are asking for our help.
The gentleman would make light of this. He ought to talk to the families who have had members who have died or who have been severely impaired or are hoping that they can get a lung transplant before they die so they might have a chance to see their children and their grandchildren grow up and enjoy their family. It's not to be made light of.
There's a great deal of malfeasance here by this administration, by OSHA, by the Department of Labor and by failure to have oversight on this in this committee. They ought not to come to this floor and make light of this measure. This is about people's lives and about their health and about their well-being, and we should pass this amendment. We should reject the next amendment and we should pass this legislation.
Mr. Chairman, I yield back my time.