WASHINGTON - Regulatory reform is on hold temporarily but is expected to return to the Senate when objections to a cloture vote are overcome, according to plastics and chemical industry officials familiar with the debate. On July 18, Majority Leader Robert Dole, R-Kan., pulled his leading regulatory reform bill, S.B. 343, from Senate consideration after falling two votes shy of a necessary 60 to stop the full Senate's debate on the measure. Continued debate would have meant more amendments to the reform package.
Regulatory reform advocates contend Sen. Charles Robb, D-Va., is the subject of intense lobbying to drop his objections to cloture to allow a vote on the measure, already approved in similar form in the House.
Other Senate Democrats receiving pressure to change their votes on cloture include Sen. Caliborne Pell, of Rhode Island, who had voted for closing debate in the first of the three votes taken during the week of July 17.
The plastics industry has heavily supported S.B. 343, in part because it would require any new regulation affecting the national economy by $100 million or more to be subject to a review of its risk as opposed to its cost of implementation.
The bill also contains language that would repeal the controversial, 37-year-old Delaney Clause, which, in part, requires a zero tolerance of carcinogenic substances in packaging that comes in contact with any processed food.
By July 17, 193 amendments had been introduced to the bill, with 60 of these by Republicans.
Red Caveney, president and chief executive officer of the American Plastics Council, heads the government affairs committee of the Alliance for Reasonable Regulation, a coalition of 2,700 businesses and associations seeking passage of S.B. 343.
His point is to ``assure that plastics gets a fair hearing vis-x-vis its competitors'' in glass and paper. ``What we don't want is someone getting an advantage'' in the eyes of the law, he said.
Also prominent in the plastics industry lobbying were Lew Freeman, Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.'s vice president for government relations and an active participant in the Alliance for Reasonable Regulation's lobbying efforts; Jerry Heckman, SPI counsel and a leading proponent for the repeal of the Delaney Clause; and Rick Otis, APC's head of federal affairs.