Oversight: March 15, 2007

A weekly rundown of the latest efforts of lawmakers to scrutinize the actions of the executive branch.

House Education and Labor Committee: (3/9/07) — Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) is seeking answers from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) about the March 6 death of an employee at Cintas Corp. in Tulsa, Okla. According to news reports, a Cintas washroom employee got caught on a conveyor belt and was pulled into an industrial dryer.

According to Woolsey, OSHA failed to enforce a safety recommendation it made to Cintas in 2005 about its laundry system.

“Sadly, it would appear that this death could have been prevented,” Woolsey wrote in a letter to OSHA. “… Given the tragedy in Tulsa, what measures is OSHA taking now to address what may be a nationwide problem with this employer or with this industry?”

Woolsey, the chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, said OSHA should conduct a nationwide inspection of Cintas facilities. Cintas Corp. is one of the largest uniform providers in the country.

•House foreign affairs committee: (3/7/07) — Chairman Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) is expressing his dismay to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice over the Bush administration’s allocations of U.S. aid to India. Lantos said the administration allocated $81 million in foreign aid to India in this year’s budget — compared to $131 million the fiscal year before.
In a letter sent to Rice, Lantos wrote the 35 percent reduction undermines humanitarian programs in the region and sends “the wrong signal at the wrong time to our Indian counterparts and inadvertently jeopardiz[es] key elements of our increasingly multifaceted partnership with India.”

•Senate Democrats: (3/12/07) — Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) is urging the State Department to allow the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to monitor Iraq war reconstruction efforts. Harkin said the allowance is necessary because the GAO plays a critical role in overseeing the war’s appropriations.

“As you know, since 2003 the United States Congress has appropriated billions of dollars to stabilize and rebuild Iraq,” Harkin wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. “Unfortunately, there have been numerous reports that large amounts of this funding have been stolen or squandered …”

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