Enzi blocks mine safety legislation

An effort to advance legislation intended to improve mine and workplace safety in the aftermath of the Upper Big Branch Mine-South tragedy was blocked by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), who claimed Democrats shut his party out of the negotiations.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) attempted to pass the Robert C. Byrd Mine and Workplace Safety and Health Act (S. 3671) Tuesday through a procedure known as "unanimous consent," which expedites procedures but can be blocked by a single senator's objection.

In his objection, Enzi said Republicans were not invited to work on the bill until shortly before the August recess, and those bipartisan negotiations made "great progress" before being called off to push through the original, non-bipartisan version.

In response to accusations that Democrats were playing political theater, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) said his party would not "support weak or ineffective reforms in the name of bipartisanship."

A House version of the bill (H.R. 5663) passed out of committee but has not been called before the full chamber.

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