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Democrats Block Overtime Choice

For the second time in a month, Senate Democrats blocked Republicans from moving forward Wednesday on a bill to give wage earners a choice between time off or pay for overtime work.

The 51-47 vote fell nine short of the 60 needed to limit debate and move a bill toward a final vote. Three Republicans - Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado, Alfonse D’Amato of New York and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania - joined all 44 voting Democrats in defeating the motion to end debate. On May 15, the vote on a similar motion was 53-47.

The vote opened the way for possible talks on a compromise, but differences were substantial.

The bill would give wage earners who enter voluntary agreements with their bosses an option of 1-1/2 hours of time off or 1-1/2 hours of pay for every hour of overtime worked.

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Sen. Maria Cantwell says governments should not be on the hook for coal mine cleanups

UPDATED: 12:25 p.m.

updated  WASHINGTON – Congress should end a practice that puts the federal government and states at risk of paying for expensive coal mine cleanups when mining companies go bankrupt, according to a new finding by the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office. The GAO, an investigative arm of Congress, is recommending that lawmakers eliminate the ability of coal mine owners to self-certify their financial wealth, known as “self-bonding.” The controversial process lets owners avoid putting up collateral or getting third-party surety bonds – a requirement of companies in every other energy sector.