3:19 PM EST

Mark Edward Souder, R-IN 3rd

Mr. SOUDER. Mr. Speaker, in our discussion about how to achieve safety in our Nation's mines, there's one issue that, until today, has been conspicuously absent: drug testing. Our late colleague from Georgia, Charlie Norwood, had the courage to introduce mine safety legislation with a drug testing requirement, only to be criticized for ``blaming the victim.'' I would argue that drug testing prevents victims.

Now, claims have been made that the Federal Government is not moving fast enough to implement safety changes, that the States are more nimble. In this instance, the other side may have a point. On the issue of drug testing, I believe the Federal Government ought to be following the States' lead.

The Commonwealth of Virginia initiated a drug testing requirement in April 2006. Since then, there have been no mining fatalities in Virginia last year, and just in southwest Virginia they had 278 the previous year, more than they've had homicides, not in coal mining but in drug overdoses.

The State of Kentucky passed a drug testing law last year, and coal mining deaths in that State are now at an all-time low. Some 433 miners were suspended for positive drug test results. It's just been possible that a disaster has been averted because of the new drug testing law.

Yet inexplicably, the same Democrats who champion this misguided legislation because they want to move more quickly on some reforms are proposing that we stall action on drug testing until we can do a study. We don't need a study. The evidence is right here, a front page article in The Washington Post detailing what has happened in Virginia and the problems in mining. The devastating impact of drug abuse was brought into sharp focus in that story.

Some may also claim in the response here that this would kill the bill. This obviously would not kill the bill. It would go back to committee. The committee would then pass an amendment, and it could be back on the floor later this week. It's not like we're busy. We're adjourning again in mid-afternoon. This could easily go back to committee and come back later this week.

Drug and alcohol testing is a commonsense safety measure that protects both abusers of these substances and those around them. It has the noted benefits of reducing accidents, cutting sick leave, improving attendance, and increasing productivity.

The testing program in this motion to recommit is based on the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of 1991, which I helped draft when I was a staffer in the Senate, which requires drug and alcohol testing of safety-sensitive transportation employees in aviation, trucking, railroads, mass transit, pipelines, and other transportation industries.

Our Nation's laws do not allow the people driving the trucks filled with coal away from the mine to abuse drugs or alcohol. Why would we not ensure that the men driving heavy machinery in the mine are not impaired?

If this body has spent valuable time investigating Major League Baseball and its drug testing policy, and I serve on that committee and I support Congressman Waxman's efforts to requiring testing of Major League Baseball players, why wouldn't we do that in mining?

I helped draft the first legislation for drug testing in high school athletes. It's been upheld by the courts, and we've passed that numerous times in this House and the Senate. Why wouldn't we do it for mine safety if we do it for high school athletes?

I worked on the Small Business Committee with then-Chairman Jim Talent, where we passed the Drug Workplace Act and heard testimony over and over from unions and management about how this can help people who have drug abuse to get addiction treatment. And I voted for the amendment that put more money in for addiction treatment, which is very important, but you have to have drug testing. It's part of getting people treated and to do prevention.

This will be a very clear vote. We have plenty of studies. We have mountains of studies. We have evidence that when we do this in schools it keeps people from falling victim to drug abuse and from having accidents. When we do it in the workplace, when we do it in transportation, drug testing works.

This is a clean vote. There aren't any excuses. We can bring this back to the floor yet this week. We can pass this, and this will be as clean a vote as you can get on this motion to recommit.

I urge you to support drug testing, to support safety, to get people into treatment, to keep mine disasters from occurring, and I urge my colleagues to vote with me ``yes'' on the motion to recommit to ensure strong safety protections and mandatory drug testing.

Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

3:22 PM EST

Mark Edward Souder, R-IN 3rd

Mr. SOUDER. Mr. Speaker, in our discussion about how to achieve safety in our Nation's mines, there's one issue that, until today, has been conspicuously absent: drug testing. Our late colleague from Georgia, Charlie Norwood, had the courage to introduce mine safety legislation with a drug testing requirement, only to be criticized for ``blaming the victim.'' I would argue that drug testing prevents victims.

Now, claims have been made that the Federal Government is not moving fast enough to implement safety changes, that the States are more nimble. In this instance, the other side may have a point. On the issue of drug testing, I believe the Federal Government ought to be following the States' lead.

The Commonwealth of Virginia initiated a drug testing requirement in April 2006. Since then, there have been no mining fatalities in Virginia last year, and just in southwest Virginia they had 278 the previous year, more than they've had homicides, not in coal mining but in drug overdoses.

The State of Kentucky passed a drug testing law last year, and coal mining deaths in that State are now at an all-time low. Some 433 miners were suspended for positive drug test results. It's just been possible that a disaster has been averted because of the new drug testing law.

Yet inexplicably, the same Democrats who champion this misguided legislation because they want to move more quickly on some reforms are proposing that we stall action on drug testing until we can do a study. We don't need a study. The evidence is right here, a front page article in The Washington Post detailing what has happened in Virginia and the problems in mining. The devastating impact of drug abuse was brought into sharp focus in that story.

Some may also claim in the response here that this would kill the bill. This obviously would not kill the bill. It would go back to committee. The committee would then pass an amendment, and it could be back on the floor later this week. It's not like we're busy. We're adjourning again in mid-afternoon. This could easily go back to committee and come back later this week.

Drug and alcohol testing is a commonsense safety measure that protects both abusers of these substances and those around them. It has the noted benefits of reducing accidents, cutting sick leave, improving attendance, and increasing productivity.

The testing program in this motion to recommit is based on the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of 1991, which I helped draft when I was a staffer in the Senate, which requires drug and alcohol testing of safety-sensitive transportation employees in aviation, trucking, railroads, mass transit, pipelines, and other transportation industries.

Our Nation's laws do not allow the people driving the trucks filled with coal away from the mine to abuse drugs or alcohol. Why would we not ensure that the men driving heavy machinery in the mine are not impaired?

If this body has spent valuable time investigating Major League Baseball and its drug testing policy, and I serve on that committee and I support Congressman Waxman's efforts to requiring testing of Major League Baseball players, why wouldn't we do that in mining?

I helped draft the first legislation for drug testing in high school athletes. It's been upheld by the courts, and we've passed that numerous times in this House and the Senate. Why wouldn't we do it for mine safety if we do it for high school athletes?

I worked on the Small Business Committee with then-Chairman Jim Talent, where we passed the Drug Workplace Act and heard testimony over and over from unions and management about how this can help people who have drug abuse to get addiction treatment. And I voted for the amendment that put more money in for addiction treatment, which is very important, but you have to have drug testing. It's part of getting people treated and to do prevention.

This will be a very clear vote. We have plenty of studies. We have mountains of studies. We have evidence that when we do this in schools it keeps people from falling victim to drug abuse and from having accidents. When we do it in the workplace, when we do it in transportation, drug testing works.

This is a clean vote. There aren't any excuses. We can bring this back to the floor yet this week. We can pass this, and this will be as clean a vote as you can get on this motion to recommit.

I urge you to support drug testing, to support safety, to get people into treatment, to keep mine disasters from occurring, and I urge my colleagues to vote with me ``yes'' on the motion to recommit to ensure strong safety protections and mandatory drug testing.

Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

3:24 PM EST

George Miller, D-CA 7th

Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California. Mr. Speaker, over this weekend we were treated to a very sad and disturbing story in the Washington Post about drug use in the mining community in Virginia and other States, about miners who have been crushed by equipment in the mines, who have been crushed in roof falls in the mine, who had been run over by other equipment in the mine, whose bodies were wracked with pain, who got addicted to painkillers, to OxyContin, to other drugs such as that, prescription

drugs, and then were struggling with their addiction.

There was also the story of a miner who got up every night at midnight, [Page: H74]

fixed himself a quick meal, and drove 135 miles round trip before he went to work so he could get his methadone treatment at the clinic and get on his job, and do that with the knowledge of his employer, struggling with his addiction, struggling to stay employed.

In this bill, we had the opportunity to address this situation. Rick Boucher, our colleague, addressed it by authorizing with almost unanimous support $10 million for treatment and to work with these miners, that the Secretary can use.

We have suggested an amendment in the manager's amendment, which you voted for, which says that the Secretary will spend 6 months to work with the industry, to work with the miners, to work with the States. Virginia has a program. Kentucky has a program. West Virginia does not. Pennsylvania apparently does not. Indiana does not. Illinois does not. The Secretary will work with them to see how they're doing it, the best way to do it, and at the end of that 6 months, after those consultations, after

her study, to impose a drug program with drug testing and treatment and rehabilitation.

How is that different than what is being offered here by my colleagues on the other side? They impose drug testing, and then they impose a blacklist for those who test positive. You want to talk about baseball? You're being a hell of a lot harder on hardworking miners in this country than you are on the baseball stars because they use drugs, and they go to work every day and nobody says anything.

But a miner who's been crushed on the job, who's trying to provide for their families, tests positive, we don't know if it's a false positive. They don't make allowances for false positives. He gets on the blacklist and he may never work again.

Rick Boucher had a better idea. Our committee had a better idea. Have the Secretary work with the States and the companies and the mining industries and the miners and the unions and say how can we best do this because I'm going to do it. So what's the best way for us to do this.

So many of you from both sides of the aisle during the consideration of this bill have said to me one thing over and over again: Will you work with the companies? Will you work with the companies? Now, along comes drug testing, nobody says work with the companies. Nobody says work with the unions. Nobody says work with the community health facilities. They just say test them and list them.

What the hell kind of thing is that to do to hardworking people in one of the most dangerous industries? We've had spouses come to this committee and talk about the fear in their spouses at night when they come home from work and before they leave, the fear that these miners have of going into that workplace.

In that article, one of the miners said he takes drugs and he used to drink because he's fighting, he hates the job. Some of them love the job in that article. They said, This is my life, mining. Digging coal is what I do best, but my legs have been crushed, my arm has been crushed.

Let's give them testing. Let's give them treatment, and let's give them some understanding of the kind of industry that they're in. We benefit, we burn the coal, we run the economy, and these families live in fear.

[Time: 15:30]

This is a very good bill. This is a very good bill. We should not suggest for a moment that because there is no link between the tragedies of the mining accidents last year and the year before, that drugs were involved at all. We have a nutty owner in Utah, but we're not going to test him. We're not going to test that owner, who is running around giving all these false reasons to these poor victims and their families as to what happened.

So yes, you can talk about baseball. But at the end of the day, those baseball players, just as they did last season and next season, they'll be playing. And they'll get a warning, and they'll get treatment. And they'll get a second warning, and they'll get treatment. These guys get a test and a list. It's unfair. It's outrageous. And you should not support it.

3:29 PM EST

Louise Slaughter, D-NY 28th

Ms. SLAUGHTER. Madam Speaker, I urge a ``yes'' vote on the previous question so that we can give more safety to the miners who work day after day in [Page: H43]

sometimes unsafe and unspeakable conditions. I also urge a ``yes'' vote on the rule.

The material previously referred to by Mr. Hastings of Washington is as follows:

Amendment to H. Res. 918

Offered By Mr. Hastings of Washington

At the end of the resolution, add the following:

SEC. 3. That immediately upon the adoption of this resolution the House shall, without intervention of any point of order, consider the resolution (H. Res. 479) to amend the Rules of the House of Representatives to provide for enforcement of clause 9 of rule XXI of the Rules of the House of Representatives. The resolution shall be considered as read. The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the resolution to final adoption without intervening motion or demand for division

of the question except: (1) one hour of debate equally divided and controlled by the chairman and ranking minority member of the Committee on Rules; and (2) one motion to recommit.

--

(The information contained herein was provided by Democratic Minority on multiple occasions throughout the 109th Congress.)

The Vote on the Previous Question: What It Really Means

This vote, the vote on whether to order the previous question on a special rule, is not merely a procedural vote. A vote against ordering the previous question is a vote against the Democratic majority agenda and a vote to allow the opposition, at least for the moment, to offer an alternative plan. It is a vote about what the House should be debating.

Mr. Clarence Cannon's Precedents of the House of Representatives, (VI, 308-311) describes the vote on the previous question on the rule as ``a motion to direct or control the consideration of the subject before the House being made by the Member in charge.'' To defeat the previous question is to give the opposition a chance to decide the subject before the House. Cannon cites the Speaker's ruling of January 13, 1920, to the effect that ``the refusal of the House to sustain the demand for the

previous question passes the control of the resolution to the opposition'' in order to offer an amendment. On March 15, 1909, a member of the majority party offered a rule resolution. The House defeated the previous question and a member of the opposition rose to a parliamentary inquiry,

asking who was entitled to recognition. Speaker Joseph G. Cannon (R-Illinois) said: ``The previous question having been refused, the gentleman from New York, Mr. Fitzgerald, who had asked the gentleman to yield to him for an amendment, is entitled to the first recognition.''

Because the vote today may look bad for the Democratic majority they will say ``the vote on the previous question is simply a vote on whether to proceed to an immediate vote on adopting the resolution . . . [and] has no substantive legislative or policy implications whatsoever.'' But that is not what they have always said. Listen to the definition of the previous question used in the Floor Procedures Manual published by the Rules Committee in the 109th Congress, (page 56). Here's how the Rules

Committee described the rule using information from Congressional Quarterly's ``American Congressional Dictionary'': ``If the previous question is defeated, control of debate shifts to the leading opposition member (usually the minority Floor Manager) who then manages an hour of debate and may offer a germane amendment to the pending business.''

Deschler's Procedure in the U.S. House of Representatives, the subchapter titled ``Amending Special Rules'' states: ``a refusal to order the previous question on such a rule [a special rule reported from the Committee on Rules] opens the resolution to amendment and further debate.'' (Chapter 21, section 21.2) Section 21.3 continues: Upon rejection of the motion for the previous question on a resolution reported from the Committee on Rules, control shifts to the Member leading the opposition to

the previous question, who may offer a proper amendment or motion and who controls the time for debate thereon.''

Clearly, the vote on the previous question on a rule does have substantive policy implications. It is one of the only available tools for those who oppose the Democratic majority's agenda and allows those with alternative views the opportunity to offer an alternative plan.