Truck Safety Law Intact, for Now
House Republicans this week averted one collision over the issue of truck safety, but others may lie ahead.
On Tuesday, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bud Shuster (R-Pa.) agreed to drop legislation repealing a just-signed law that strips the Federal Highway Administration of most of its powers to police the trucking industry. Instead, the House, by voice vote, approved a technical correction that otherwise left the reorganization intact.
Shuster's move averted a confrontation with Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.), chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee on transportation and a tireless crusader to relieve the highway administration of truck safety responsibilities.
But Wolf's reform, which gives the secretary of transportation responsibility for safety enforcement, could be short-lived. Shuster plans to bring a comprehensive bill to the floor today setting up a new, semi-independent agency to regulate trucks.
Bill Strips HHS's Transplant Control
The government would lose virtually all authority to oversee the nation's medical transplant program under a bill headed to the House floor.
Pushing the bill are transplant surgeons and hospitals, who complain the Department of Health and Human Services has tried to dictate transplant policy over their objections.
Lawmakers are debating how much control HHS should have over the United Network for Organ Sharing. The bill approved by voice vote yesterday in the House Commerce Committee sides with the network, giving it authority to make all substantive decisions and making it difficult for HHS to choose any other group to run the program in the future.
CDC Chief Sorry for Funds Diversion
The head of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention apologized to people with chronic fatigue syndrome, saying the agency was wrong to divert millions of federal dollars earmarked to study the mysterious illness.
In Atlanta, CDC Director Jeffrey Koplan promised a "reinvigorated effort" to study chronic fatigue, which leaves some people so drained they cannot perform simple tasks. Some rarely leave their beds.
Earlier this year, an audit showed the CDC had received $22.7 million from Congress for chronic fatigue research, but less than half the money was used for that purpose. At least $8.8 million was spent on other programs, and $4.1 million could not be accounted for.
Study Faults U.S. on Teen Smoking
Despite vows to cut teen smoking, the federal government and the states have failed to enforce a seven-year-old law restricting tobacco sales to minors, according to a study funded by the Substance Abuse Policy Research Program, an arm of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Federal officials disputed the finding, pointing out that it was based on three-year-old data.