LaborNet - Internet Board
Global online communication since 1991 for a democratic, independent labor movement
Home | Current Blog | News Archive | Video | Resources | Back Links | About LaborNet

image image

OSHA-a product of lame duck congress
Source Steven Schrag
Date 10/11/24/23:45

OSHA-a product of lame duck congress

Citing a national crisis, President Lyndon B. Johnson submitted a comprehensive occupational safety and health bill to Congress in January 1968. The Johnson bill failed to come to a vote in either house of Congress in 1968. Industry groups lobbied vigorously against it from the outset, joined by pro-business legislators and "states' rights" activists fearing an expansion of federal regulatory authority.

Despite this initial setback, workplace safety legislation emerged again in Congress the following year. Newly elected Republican President Richard M. Nixon, seeing an opportunity to siphon blue-collar voters away from opposition Democrats, announced his support for a modified occupational safety and health bill early in August 1969.

Nixon sought to assign the power of establishing national safety and health standards to a new five-person board to be appointed by the president. Nixon also called for lighter penalties against violators and exemptions from the law for small employers. Business groups, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, this time came out solidly in support of Nixon's division-of-power approach. labor unions, a nascentenvironmental movement, and consumer advocates like Ralph Nader, however, rejected any watering down of Labor Department authority and rallied behind an alternative Senate Democratic bill instead

Both legislative proposals bogged down in Congress for more than a year. But congressional Republicans broke the logjam in November 1970 when they agreed to lodge standards-making authority in a new agency—the Occupational Safety and Health Administration—within the Department of Labor. Democrats, in turn, agreed to dilute Occupational Safety and Health Administration's enforcement power by creating a separate appointed body, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, to judge cases involving possible industry violations. With this compromise in hand, both houses of Congress quickly agreed to a final version of the bill in a lame-duck December session.

Ultimately, the House of Representatives voted 308–60 in support of the compromise bill, and the Senate adopted it on a voice vote without debate. President Nixon dropped his remaining objections, and in a Labor Department ceremony attended by labor union and business leaders alike, Nixon signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act into law on December 29, 1970.

If OSHA was passed by a lame duck congress,
why not push for its update now?

[View the list]