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Prominent environmental, labor and consumer advocates are expressing disappointment that President George W. Bush may overturn a rule that would bar companies violating environmental and labor laws from winning federal contracts.
Standing outside the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, Sierra Club executive director Carl Pope, AFL-CIO executive vice president Linda Chavez-Thompson and members of Congress said taxpayer money should not support lawbreakers.
"President Bush's decision to allow chronic lawbreakers to receive our tax dollars is simply irresponsible," Pope said. "President Bush's action threatens our air and water, endangers America's workers, and undermines the very protections that keep our environment clean and our workers safe."
The federal government provides $210 billion worth of federal contracts each year. A rule signed by President Bill Clinton in June would have directed that this money go only to companies that follow federal laws.
Prospective contractors would be assessed on whether they had violated federal laws. But President Bush has now suspended that rule and proposes doing away with it altogether.
"American taxpayers will be outraged to learn that, thanks to the Bush Administration, their tax dollars will be going to fund lucrative federal contracts for companies that routinely violate environmental, civil rights, worker protection, consumer and other important laws," Chavez-Thompson said.
"As tax day nears, Americans want fairness, not a double standard that rewards corporate lawbreakers with fat federal contracts," Pope said. "Americans who obey the law see no reason their taxes should bolster the bank accounts of companies that disregard laws protecting the environment, civil rights, workers and consumers. Once again, the polluting and exploitative industries that funded President Bush's campaign are getting what they paid for."