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House Democrats Stall on Brownfields

September 24, 2001

WASHINGTON (AP) _ House Democrats stalled a bill to clean up abandoned industrial waste sites on Monday because it lacked assurances that jobs to be created would be eligible for high wages under a federal labor law.

The Bush administration and most in Congress back the so-called ``brownfields″ legislation to provide $200 million a year for the cleanup of more than 500,000 sites. The legislation also would encourage developers to build on the sites by strengthening protections from lawsuits over contamination.

Democrats are waiting, however, for a letter from the administration that assures the Davis-Bacon Act would apply to state cleanup grants created by the bill, said a spokeswoman for House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt, D-Mo.

The 1931 Davis-Bacon Act guarantees high wages for workers on federal construction projects.

A White House spokesman could not be reached immediately for comment.

A new House package on ``brownfields″ was introduced Sept. 10 by Rep. Paul Gillmor, R-Ohio, that combined versions that the Senate and House passed without dissent. A scheduled vote was postponed Monday.

Gephardt and Democratic Reps. John Dingell of Michigan and James Oberstar of Minnesota recently wrote President Bush to ask that the Environmental Protection Agency require the Davis-Bacon Act’s prevailing wage provisions within the new cleanup programs.

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The bill is H.R. 2869.

On the Net: For legislative information: http://thomas.loc.gov

EPA: http://www.epa.gov/brownfields

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