|2:17 PM EDT||
Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-FL 21st
Mr. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. McGovern) for the time, and I yield myself such time as I may consume.
On February 7, 2008, a terrible explosion occurred at the Imperial Sugar Company refinery in the community of Port Wentworth, Georgia. The explosion killed 13 people, injured over 40 refinery workers. That explosion at the Imperial Sugar Company refinery pointed to the danger of combustible dust in the workplace. It's a very serious concern, and we must take every possible step to protect workers from those dangers.
The underlying legislation, the Combustible Dust Explosion and Fire Prevention Act, would require OSHA to issue an interim final combustible dust standard within 90 days and a permanent standard within 18 months. It also [Page: H2892]
lists a specific number of items that would be required under the Interim Final Standard including a written dust control program, hazard assessment, worker training and employee participation in the development and conduct of the dust
control program. OSHA would also be required to include combustible dust in the definition of physical hazards in OSHA's Hazard Communication Standard.
It is quite disconcerting, Mr. Speaker, that on an issue as important as workplace safety, the majority is only allowing the House of Representatives to consider one amendment by the minority, one Republican amendment. The majority campaign platform said they would run the House of Representatives in an open and bipartisan manner, yet they systematically and consistently block the minority time and time again from offering amendments.
All Members of this representative institution wish to do the most they can to provide workers a safe working environment, Mr. Speaker. And it is most unfortunate that the majority blocks Members from offering their proposals. Instead of offering such a tightly structured rule, the majority should be allowing every Member the opportunity to offer their thoughts and proposals to the House for consideration.
As important as the underlying legislation may be, I believe there are other issues that are on the minds of Americans at this point that are pressing to Americans: For example, confronting the rising cost of gasoline.
On Monday, hundreds of truckers drove through the streets of this capital city to protest in desperation the rising cost of diesel fuel. They are not the only ones desperate due to the rising oil prices. All consumers are paying more for gasoline, which also causes price increases in virtually every consumer product, including food. A recent policy found that 44 percent of Americans find paying for gasoline to be their top personal economic problem.
Since Democrats took control of Congress in January of last year, the cost of a gallon of unleaded gasoline has skyrocketed. According to AAA, the national average for regular unleaded gas has gone up $1.20 during that time. The cost of gas has gone up more in 15 months than it had gone up in the prior 6 years.
But oil prices don't have to be so high, Mr. Speaker, because I understand the majority claims to have a plan, a plan to reduce oil prices. Just over 2 years ago, April 2006, now-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, then the Democrat minority leader, issued a press release claiming that House Democrats, ``have a commonsense plan to bring down skyrocketing gas prices.'' Two weeks after that press release, then-Minority Leader PELOSI said that Democrats have ``real solutions''
that would lower the price at the pump. That was 2 years ago.
Democrats have controlled Congress for a year and a half, and we have yet to see them act on their ``commonsense plan to bring down skyrocketing gas prices.''
Instead of empty promises, Republicans are working on providing relief to consumers faced with the constantly rising cost of gasoline. For example, last week, I, along with several of my colleagues, introduced H.R. 5905, the CARS Act, the prime sponsor of which is Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart. That legislation would give commuters a tax break on their commuting expenses. That important legislation will actually help taxpayers with the rising cost of gasoline, unlike the majority's ``mystery
plan,'' the mystery plan, Mr. Speaker, that we have not yet seen.
At this time, I reserve my time.