WASHINGTON (AP) – The Delta Queen could be back cruising waterways sometime soon.
The Senate voted 85-12 on Monday to allow the legendary riverboat to carry passengers if certain safety changes are made to the wooden vessel. In the past, the Delta Queen had been exempted from a 1966 law that had prevented wooden boats from carrying passengers overnight. That exemption lapsed in 2008.
Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, a sponsor of the measure, appealed to her colleagues to help return the “Delta Queen to her rightful place on the mighty Mississippi.”
McCaskill’s Republican colleague, Senator Roy Blunt voted yes, but Senator Durbin from the Metro East was a no. The final vote was 85 to 12 in favor.
“They must protect the engine and boiler systems with non-flammable materials. They must receive special training,” McCaskill says. “The owner cannot avoid any liability…the coast guard has to conduct an annual audit and inspection of the vessel.”
McCaskill said three presidents rode on the Delta Queen Herbert Hoover, Jimmy Carter and Harry S. Truman. She said the boat operated for decades without incident.
The House still must act on the bipartisan bill.
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