Delta Queen: The Fight Continues

| July 21, 2008

Minnesota Congressman James Oberstar - caught in a lie - by Fox News in a story about the Delta Queen.

Has anyone else here had enough of U.S. Congresspeople looking out for number one more than the American people? This month's top congressional scoundral is Rep. James Oberstar, Democratic Representative from Minnesota's 8th Congressional District. Thank goodness he is up for re-election this year. If anyone deserves to lose a seat he is the one.

This Fox News Video demonstrates Oberstar's singular efforts to scuttle the Delta Queen, the United States' oldest and last authentic paddle-wheel steamboat in operation. The Congressman, besides looking like a weasal, acts like one, too, when he lies to the national media about why he is ending the Delta Queen's career as a passenger vessel.

The mighty steam paddle wheel pushes Delta Queen up the river   The front deck of the Delta Queen

What Oberstar is doing is egregious in so many ways:

  • He is single-handedly withholding the right of Delta Queen to operate - not even giving the bill the light of day. He can do this as head of the transportation committee.
  • He is NOT doing it for the reason he says - concern about fire safety, but solely because a campaign contributing union in his district doesn't want the boat to sail.
  • He says he has never discussed the issue with the union, but the union has made public statements about where they stand on the issue. He has gotten the message anyway - not that we believe he never discussed it with them.
  • He is doing despite the fact that if a nationwide, statewide or even district-wide poll were taken, undoubtedly the American public would rather see the boat continue to sail.
  • He used as an example of steamboat fire concerns an example from the 1800s! Yes, unbelievable.

Why Oberstar is Full of Mississippi Mud

The Delta Queen is a registered National Historic Landmark that can operate as a cruise vessel solely because of Congressional mandates. These mandates (exemptions to specific vessel requirements) have been virtually rubber-stamped by Congress every few years since the early 1970s.

But this year, Oberstar, chairman of the U.S. transportation committee, is holding the exemption in committee and not even allowing it to go to Congress for a vote. This will end Delta Queen's career as a passenger cruiser. Allow us to reiterate -- Oberstar did not just change his vote -- he is singlehandedly holding the exemption from coming to a vote. Oberstar has made this decision on his own -- this is not the voice of Congress speaking.

Why is Oberstar single-handedly scuttling Delta Queen, especially when he personally voted FOR the very same exemptions in previous years including just two years ago? The only thing that has changed in the last year is that the boat went from a union member crew to a non-union member crew. Oberstar's state is on the Great Lakes and many Seafarer's Union members vote in his district. The Union has come out openly against the Delta Queen continuing to sail without a union crew.

But in the Fox News video when asked why he is holding up the bill, he says the only reason is his concern over fire safety. Oberstar is caught with his pants down, he voted YES on the very same legislation just two years ago -- and the only thing that has changed is the Union withdrawing support for the vessel.

Even more infuriating is his sanctimonious grand-standing, "I am the head of the transportation committee, therefore I get to make this decision." Well, if YOU are so sure YOU are right YOU should feel confident putting it up for a vote by YOUR fellow congressmen. What has he got to fear? Lose of face and campaign contributions - that's what.

The controls used to communicate with the engine room   The Grand Staircase onboard the Delta Queen

The Fox News story also knocks holes in that "fire-hazard" theory. They show that if anything the boat is safer than it has ever been, including when Oberstar voted FOR the boat in the past.

Next Page: Campaign to Save the Delta Queen

Recommended Articles