Dem wants Senate hearing on freight rail merger

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Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinSenator responds to criticism of daughter's EpiPen company The Hill's 12:30 Report Dem Senate candidate: Toomey 'playing politics' with guns MORE (D-W.Va.) is calling for a Senate hearing on a proposed merger between Canadian Pacific Railway and Norfolk Southern, which he has dubbed a "Wall Street takeover" of a prominent U.S. freight company. 

Calgary-based Canadian Pacific Railway has been making overtures to Virginia-based Norfolk Southern about a potential combination it says would "create a truly transcontinental railroad to better serve customers and the economy." 

Manchin, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, on Tuesday said the proposed merger "is an attempt by a Wall Street titan to purchase and dismantle an American rail company that has provided jobs for hundreds of West Virginians.”  

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He called on lawmakers in the Senate to investigate the proposed combination, which he said "creates real and present dangers to hardworking people of West Virginia." 

“We can't get any specifics from Hunter Harrison or Bill Ackman about where the $1.8 billion will come from in this deal with Norfolk Southern, but we know the harm they have done at Canadian Pacific," Manchin said in a statement. 

"I’m calling for a Commerce Committee investigation into this merger because I want to ask Hunter Harrison what they are going to invest in, what they are going to build, and how they are going to help the people and the communities of our state," Manchin continued.

"West Virginia cannot afford a corporate partner more focused on short-term gains for stockholders than the hard-working men and women who show up to work every day. In this economy, I'm going to fight to protect every single West Virginian job I can."

Canadian Pacific has said it is "confident that a CP-NS combination would secure regulatory approval as a seamless coast-to-coast single-haul service benefits shippers, the industry and the public, and would generate tremendous shareholder value." 

Norfolk Southern has rejected previous offers from Canadian Pacific, saying its board of directors "has unanimously determined that your latest revised proposal is grossly inadequate, creates substantial regulatory risks and uncertainties that are highly unlikely to be overcome, and is not in the best interest of the Company and its shareholders." 

Manchin's office said Tuesday that the senator wants to put the brakes on the potential merger for good. 

"Sen. Manchin is insisting that the details of this merger be thoroughly reviewed by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation before any element of this transaction is allowed to proceed," the senator's office said.

"Canadian Pacific Railway’s attempt to acquire Norfolk Southern is troubling because of Canadian Pacific Railway’s history of cutting jobs to increase investor profits," Manchin's office continued. 

"For years, Norfolk Southern has been committed not just to its shareholders, but to its employees and to the West Virginia communities it serves. Norfolk Southern currently employs 990 people and supports 430 retirees in the Mountain State."