Despite protests from Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, that the Civil Rights Act of 1990 will create racial hiring quotas, the Senate overwhelmingly passed it 62-34 Tuesday.
But Hatch - who led the fight against the bill - was pleased that the vote margin was still two votes shy of the two-thirds majority that would be needed to override an expected veto of it by President Bush. The Housed passed the bill 273.154.Nevertheless, the bill's sponsor, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., said, "It isn't over until it's over. . . . If he vetoes it, there's a good chance that the Congress will override."
The bill would overturn five recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions and make it easier for workers to sue their employers for job discrimination.
Hatch said during debate, "The proponents have gone to great lengths to proclaim that the bill does not require an employer to use (racial) quotas. They are absolutely correct. Nothing in the bill specifically mandates the use of quotas.
"The problem is that will result in quotas," he said. Rule changes that don't allow hiring the best candidate as a defense in bias suits means "the only prudent employment policy would be to make every employment policy with an eye on the numbers, to make sure that . . . one's work force always matches the appropriate labor force."
Hatch also lamented that long negotiations between the bill's sponsors, Senate Republicans and the White House could not produce a compromise version that would avoid a veto.
"The better part of six days was spent trying to resolve some of the major problems with the bill, culminating in a 17-hour session. Regrettably, we failed, but it was not for a lack of effort on anyone's part."
CHILD CARE - Hatch also exulted Tuesday about an agreement reached between the White House and Congress that should ensure passage of a $15 billion child-care bill.
Hatch's compromises with liberals to produce the bill led to him being denounced as a "Benedict Arnold" by many conservative groups last year. Even Rep. Howard Nielson, R-Utah, gave a speech urging Utah County Republicans to attack the bill.
But Hatch's moderation won conservative provisions in the bill to allow tax credits to help pay for child care, even if it is provided by a parent who stays home. But he had to support liberal-backed provisions to create some child-care standards and allow direct payment for some child care by government.
The new compromise with the White House would provide $10 billion over five years in tax credits to parents with low and moderate incomes. It would provide $2.5 billion over three years in grants to states to subsidize child-care centers. It would also provide money for states to help train child-care professionals.