GOP senators: Bipartisan legislation can prevent another derailment like one in East Palestine

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar
FILE – This photo taken with a drone shows portions of a Norfolk Southern freight train that derailed in East Palestine, Ohio are still on fire at mid-day Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023.

A group of Republican senators called on their colleagues on Wednesday to support bipartisan rail safety legislation aimed at preventing train derailments like the one in East Palestine, Ohio, last month.

“The U.S. government must provide the American people with the security of knowing that what happened to East Palestine will not happen again,” Sens. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said in an op-ed published by Fox News.

The three Republican senators introduced the Railway Safety Act alongside Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Bob Casey (Pa.) and John Fetterman (Pa.) earlier this month, after a Norfolk Southern train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in East Palestine on Feb. 3.

The bill calls for increased safety requirements on trains carrying hazardous materials, as well as more frequent inspections and higher fines for safety violations.

“The path forward for this bill is clear,” the group added in the op-ed. “The Senate majority leader and the president have pledged to do what it takes to make it law, and a bipartisan group from the Ohio delegation has introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives.”

They appeared to take particular aim at their fellow Republicans, who have pushed back on the legislation.

“This legislation should be of special interest to our Republican colleagues,” the group wrote. “America’s railroads run through their rural districts and red communities. When derailments occur, it is predominantly Republican voters—their voters—who bear the brunt and who rush to put out the fires.”

The op-ed was published ahead of the Senate Commerce Committee’s hearing about rail safety on Wednesday, in which lawmakers are set to question the CEOs of Norfolk Southern and the Association of American Railroads.

Tags East Palestine East Palestine train derailment J.D. Vance Josh Hawley Marco Rubio Railway Safety Act of 2023 Senate Commerce Sherrod Brown

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