Members of Congress Take Aim at OSHA’s Silica Dust Rule

OSHA, MSHA, and NIOSH would all have their funding cut under legislation recently passed in the House. Things look better in the Senate, which, at the time this article was published, is still working through its funding bills. (We’ll have more on the details of the funding negotiations within the Senate and between the House and Senate in the near future.) During the House’s debate on the funding legislation, hundreds of amendments were considered – including one that would halt implementation of OSHA’s respirable crystalline silica rule. While this amendment was in line to be voted on, time ran out, and it was never actually considered. It might be tempting to conclude that the threat has passed, but the truth is that this amendment made it through the political gauntlet. Of the more than 1,000 amendments submitted by Members of Congress, this was one of the relatively few that were actually made eligible for a vote. This means that opposition to the silica dust rule is a high enough priority for House Republicans (as the majority, they largely set the rules for debate on bills in the House, including how many and which amendments are considered). As a result, we can expect other such attempts to halt implementation of this rule to show up in other areas.

Throughout the year, AIHA and its members have conducted a strong grassroots advocacy campaign to help Members of Congress understand the silica rule and why we support it. In February, we held a Congressional briefing, and we currently have an action alert on our Government Relations Action Center, which we invite you to use. Even if you’ve already sent letters to and/or met with your Members of Congress on this issue, it’s always a good idea to do so again to help keep your preferences on the minds of policymakers. If you’re looking for tips for the best ways to engage with policymakers, or if you have suggestions of your own, please contact Mark Ames at mames@aiha.org or 703-846-0730.