The House yesterday voted to repeal a 14-month-old-law requiring sealed bidding for sales of timber on federal lands in the West.
The bill to repeal was opposed by both the Justice and Agriculture departments, but supported by timber companies and the carpenter's union.
Rep. John H. Krebs (D.-Calif.), the Department opposed the bill because it believes open bidding has led to collusion on the part of the bidders. Agriculture Department officials in opposing the bill, said the sealed bid procedure should be given a longer test.
Rep. John H. Kebs (D.-Calif), the chief opponent of the bill, said six grand jury investigations are currently under way in California and other western states into collusive bidding practices.
"This is why we passed the repeal [of open bidding] in the first place," he said. Krebs said that companies in both the South and the East do all their bidding on federal land timber by the sealed method, and only those in the West had open bidding.
Rep. James H. Weaver (D.-Ore.) argued that small mills and timber companies would be shut down because of sealed bidding practices, since thy would have only "one chance to get the timber."
But Krebs argued that dependent communities with only one small company of mill are allowed to practice oral bidding now 75 percent of the time because of regulations put out by the secretary of agriculture.
Kerbs' attempt to retain the sealed bidding method lost by a 239-to-136 vote.
The Senate has already passed a bill authorizing the secretary of agriculture to select the bidding method, but monitor bidding practices for evidence of collusion. Yesterday the House accepted the Senate version by 295 to 78.