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Good question

July 19, 2012

A recent House draft appropriations bill that would fund OSHA and the Mine Safety and Health Administration proposes several provisions limiting the agencies’ actions, prompting one congresswoman to ask why.

In particular, the GOP-backed appropriations bill (.pdf file) for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and related agencies for fiscal year 2013 would:

These provisions – known as “riders” – don’t have much to do with funding a department, and it’s not the first time Republicans or Democrats have attached potentially controversial riders that have little connection to the main bill.

But that didn’t stop House Appropriations Committee member Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) from asking the obvious: “What are these all doing in the bill?”

​As she pointed out during a July 18 markup session of the bill, the Appropriations Committee doesn’t really deal specifically with the provisions included in the riders – it deals with money to fund the various agencies and departments.

“Often, these special-interest riders cover areas in which this committee has no expertise and no real jurisdiction,” DeLauro said.

The likely reason the GOP-authored appropriations bill includes these riders is because the provisions would prohibit initiatives Republicans generally oppose. More often than not, these riders just wind up micromanaging an agency and limiting its options. For example, nearly everyone agrees injury and illness prevention programs are a good thing. While it is up for debate whether employers should be required to implement such a program, do we really want to stop OSHA from even exploring the idea?

The opinions expressed in "Washington Wire" do not necessarily reflect those of the National Safety Council or affiliated local Chapters.

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