WASHINGTON - Business lobbyists, nervously anticipating Democratic gains in next year's elections, are racing to secure final approval for a wide range of health, safety, labor and economic rules, in the belief that they can get better deals from the Bush administration than from its successor.
Hoping to lock in policies backed by a pro-business administration, poultry farmers are seeking an exemption for the smelly fumes produced by tons of chicken manure. Businesses are lobbying the Bush administration to roll back rules that let employees take time off for family needs and medical problems. And electric power companies are pushing the government to relax pollution-control requirements.
There's a growing sense, a growing probability, that the next administration could be Democratic, said Craig L. Fuller, executive vice president of Apco Worldwide, a lobbying and public relations firm, who was a White House official in the Reagan administration. Corporate executives, trade associations and lobbying firms have begun to recalibrate their strategies
At the Transportation Department, trucking companies are trying to get final approval for a rule increasing the maximum number of hours commercial truck drivers can work. And automakers are trying to persuade officials to set new standards for the strength of car roofs - standards far less stringent than what consumer advocates say is needed to protect riders in a rollover.
At the Interior Department, coal companies are lobbying for a regulation that would allow them to dump rock and dirt from mountaintop mining operations into nearby streams and valleys. It would be prohibitively expensive to haul away the material, they say, and there are no waste sites in the area. Luke Popovich, a vice president of the National Mining Association, said that a Democratic president was more likely to side with "the greens."
Rolling back consumer, worker and environmental protection. Let them run on this: