Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor ahead of a bipartisan group of Senators introducing The Railway Safety Act of 2023. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Later today, a bipartisan group of Senators—including Senators Brown and Vance of Ohio, and Fetterman and Casey of Pennsylvania—a bipartisan group, plan to introduce The Railway Safety Act of 2023.
In the aftermath of the terrible accident in East Palestine, this is precisely the kind of proposal we need to see in Congress: a bipartisan rail safety bill, one that includes provisions relevant to the accident that happened a month ago. I salute them for this fine, bipartisan effort, and commit to them that I am going to work with the sponsors of the bill to move this bill forward. We should pass it, a bipartisan bill, here in the Senate and hopefully in the House. I will do whatever I can to make sure that happens.
This bill is as smart as it is necessary: it includes provisions to increase safety protocols for trains with hazardous materials, new requirements for crews operating trains, and increases the fines that can be imposed on rail companies that engage in reckless behavior.
And we must do more, because the accident in East Palestine didn’t come out of the blue. On the contrary, the Chair of the NTSB said the Norfolk Southern derailment was 100% preventable. The fault here lies with rail companies who spent years lobbying to slash crucial safety regulations intended to keep people safe. It has created a dangerous culture where the profit motive is king above all else, even above the need to keep people safe.
There are countless small towns just like East Palestine across America with rail lines running through them. In my dear state of New York, there are lots of them, particularly in Upstate. They’re all at greater risk when rail giants work together to slash safety, slash worker compensation, and place shareholder returns above everything else.