Democrats to offer substitute rights bill

May 21, 1991|By Arch Parsons | Arch Parsons,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- The Democratic leadership of the House of Representatives is expected to make public tomorrow a substitute civil rights "package" containing a number of proposed amendments to the bill now before the House.

The leadership's expectation is that while the substitute bill will be put before the House this week, it is unlikely to be debated or voted on until next week because of other congressional business.

The substitute bill would replace H.R. 1, which has already gone through House committee procedures and stands ready for floor action.

The substitute reportedly will contain these amendments:

* Language seeking to end the possibility that the measure could become a so-called "quota bill" that would give employers the opportunity to use racial hiring quotas as a means of avoiding suits for discrimination.

The language is expected to be that said to have been agreed upon after months of negotiations between civil rights advocates and representatives of the Business Roundtable, an organization chief executives from the nation's major corporations.

But the negotiations were broken off under White House pressure on the Business Roundtable and were never completed.

* A monetary cap on the punitive damages that could be awarded to victims of job discrimination. The cap is in great disfavor among women's organizations, particularly when it is applied to cases of sexual harassment.

* A limitation on the use of "race-norming," the adjustment of job-placement test results by race, which tends to improve the scores of blacks and Hispanics.

Civil rights advocates were describing the package yesterday as the first step toward gaining widespread congressional approval a compromise civil rights bill that would be put before President Bush for his signature by the end of the summer.

Ralph G. Neas, executive director of the Leadership Conference for Civil Rights, a lobbying coalition of more than 185 groups, insisted that the aim of the compromise effort is to obtain Mr. Bush's approval of the bill.

But Mr. Neas also asserted that if the president were to veto the measure, as he did the 1990 civil rights bill, there would be sufficient votes in Congress to override another Bush veto.

Republican conservatives continued to express confidence that Mr. Bush will veto this year's civil rights bill -- including the proposed amendments, at least as they have been reported recently -- and that Congress once again will sustain the president's veto.

"I've heard nothing recently that changes the picture," said Clint Bolick, president of the Landmark Center for Civil Rights. "The bill, as it has been reported, remains a quota bill, and the president won't sign a quota bill."

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