Jun 302005

Today, the Senate passed an amendment (proposed by Sen. Barbara Boxer) by a wide margin (60-37) prohibiting the EPA from testing pesticides on humans. What the EPA has been doing is pretty awful: They promise families some cash in order to carry out experiments, often on kids and often in low-income neighborhoods. Take this one example:

The tests include a 2002-04 study by University of California-San Diego in which chloropicrin, an insecticide that during World War I was a chemical warfare agent, was administered to 127 young adults in doses that exceeded federal safety limits by 12 times.

Lovely. But believe it or not, the typically incorrigible House also passed an amendment barring this practice, with language identical to the Senate bill. What’s the problem, you ask, apart from a potential veto threat by Bush?

A nasty little thing called the conference committee. Conference committees are supposed to hammer out differences between House and Senate bills so that one bill can be presented to the President. But they’ve been repeatedly abused by the GOP to kill legislation even when there are no disagreements to work out. And guess who’s behind this?

Ordinarily, approval by both House and Senate would ensure the language is retained in the final version of the bill. But GOP floor manager Conrad Burns, R-Mont., opposed Boxer’s amendment, and as lead Senate negotiator on the bill, is well-positioned to kill it in future talks with the House.

Ahh, our good friend Conrad Burns. So one lone jerk (though probably tacitly backed by his 36 other GOP colleagues who also voted against the Boxer amendment) stands between a bill supported by majorities in both houses of Congress. Now that’s democracy! And this from a Republican who was claiming the filibuster was unconstitutional

Anyhow, I could have headlined this piece "Burns Supports Testing Pesticides on Kids" and it would have been entirely accurate. And even if Burnsie does back away from his conference committee trickery, he is still on record as voting against the Boxer amendment. Would you want this man protecting your children?

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