Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Bush Mine Safety Administrator Walks Out of Senate Hearing

David Dye, acting administrator of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, walked out of a Senate subcommittee hearing on the Bush administration's failures of mine safety regulations. From ThinkProgress

This I cannot believe--until I saw the video. Think Progress has a video showing David Dye, acting administrator of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, walking out of a Senate subcommittee hearing on the Bush administration's failures of mine safety regulations.

First, here is the link to the video:

Now here's the New York Times story:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 - Citing the recent deaths of 14 miners in West Virginia, senators said Monday that federal mining officials had failed to enforce safety regulations adequately.

"These deaths, I believe, were entirely preventable," said Senator Robert C. Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, citing recent budget cuts, staff reductions and "a culture of cronyism" as factors contributing to insufficient oversight by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.

But David Dye, acting administrator of the agency, rejected the criticism.

Mr. Dye told a hearing of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on mine safety that it was far too early to identify the cause of the accidents: the Jan. 2 explosion at the Sago Mine that killed 12 miners and the conveyer belt fire on Thursday that killed 2 miners at the Aracoma Alma Mine No. 1 near Melville.

"Until the joint investigation team can safely enter the mine to thoroughly examine the site, we will not know" what caused the Sago accident, Mr. Dye said.

Lawmakers grew increasingly frustrated with agency officials' answers.

Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania and chairman of the subcommittee, criticized the Bush administration as not keeping up with inflation in financing mine safety and said that over the last 10 years the safety agency's budget had been cut by $2.8 million, which led to the loss of the 183 staff members.

About midway through the two-hour hearing, Mr. Dye said he had other matters to attend to and had to leave.

Senator Specter responded with frustration: "I can understand your pressing other business. It may well be that some of the senators here have pressing matters, too. We don't think we are imposing too much to keep you here for another hour."

After Mr. Specter added, "That's the committee's request, but you're not under subpoena," Mr. Dye got up and walked out.

"I can't recollect it ever happening before," Mr. Specter said of the departure. "We'll find a way to take appropriate note of it."

I don't know who is the real idiot here--Dye or Specter! I can see the arrogance of Dye not wanting to sit and listen to Congressional criticism regarding the Bush administration's budget cuts, and relaxed regulations regarding mine safety. Dye probably knew those mines were unsafe, but allowed everything to slide due to the Bush administration's pro-business approach to policymaking. Reducing safety in mines, allows the mining companies to reduce costs on safety equipment, and provides bigger profits for the companies--of which they can provide more campaign contributions to the Republican Party for more deregulations to benefit the mining industry. During the Senate subcommittee hearings, Dye was evading the questions, saying that the investigation teams couldn't go into the Sago mine, until the mine was declared safe for the investigation teams to go into. Talk about a circular logic here. Dye certainly wouldn't respond to, or rejected, the Senators questions on budget cuts and staff reductions. But since these White House parrot-talking-points were not convincing the senators, Dye decided he was just going to leave the hearings, altogether. Talk about the arrogance of Dye, and ultimately the arrogance of the Bush administration, who selected Dye to head up this federal office.

But I also reserve criticism against Arlen Specter. Specter is a fricking pansy here! He let Dye push him around, by allowing Dye to leave. He refused to subpoena Dye, and he certainly is not going to subpoena the Mine Safety and Health Administration for records regarding these disasters and budget cuts. You can bet that Specter is not going to subpoena the Bush White House for these mine safety records either. The White House is refusing to release documents or allow White House officials to testify before Congress regarding the Katrina disaster--do you really think Congress is going to subpoena the White House for the Katrina records? Specter will not allow any serious congressional oversight against the Bush White House on any issue! It is that simple. So it is no wonder that Dye feels that he doesn't have to answer to Congress, since his boss--President Bush--is not answering to Congress on any issue. And Arlen Specter and his Republican cronies who control Congress, are allowing the White House to push Congress around.

The only way to get any type of serious oversight in Congress is for the Democrats to take control of both houses in Congress. Once the Democrats gain control of Congress, they gain control of the subcommittees--and the subpoena powers. The Democrats can then force a confrontation against the Bush White House, and the corruption that has gone on for five years.

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