legislation bogged down by amendments
By Marilyn Geewax, Cox News Service
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Friday, July 21, 2006
WASHINGTON - Congress ended its work week Thursday without
completing the pension legislation that bankrupt airlines
say they must have to avoid defaulting on their pension
plans, perhaps within weeks. "We don't have a commitment or
an agreement yet, but I think we're very close to having
one," House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, told
Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., primary sponsor of the airline
provision, said he is "still very optimistic and will remain
in Washington throughout the weekend" to continue putting
finishing touches on the bill.
For days, airline executives and hundreds of workers have
been lobbying on Capitol Hill, begging lawmakers to complete
the legislation that contains special relief for bankrupt
air carriers with underfunded pension plans. Both Delta Air
Lines and Eagan-based Northwest Airlines have said they
might default on the pension plans of a combined 150,000
workers and retirees if Congress fails to provide funding
relief by August.
Key lawmakers say the bill will be finalized before Congress
starts its August recess. But many also had said the
legislation would be done by the Easter break, then Memorial
Day, then July 4th.
The bill's momentum on Thursday was slowed by efforts to
attach other, unrelated amendments. Some lawmakers want to
use the pension legislation as a vehicle to move a package
of tax cuts and trade-related provisions. Some Democrats
hope to add a minimum-wage increase amendment.