Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor again calling on Norfolk Southern’s CEO to testify before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee about the horrific train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Yesterday I called on Norfolk Southern’s CEO Alan Shaw to come before the Senate and answer questions under oath about the derailment in East Palestine.
The accident has been deemed “one hundred percent preventable” so Mr. Shaw should be transparent, forthright, and he should not duck but instead testify before America, before the Senate, as soon as possible.
Norfolk Southern owes the American people some answers to some very important questions:
Why, for example, did Norfolk Southern spend years pushing the federal government, and particularly the Trump Administration, to repeal—repeal!—safety regulations intended to prevent accidents similar to the one in East Palestine?
Why has Norfolk Southern laid off thousands of workers while reporting over $3 billion in profits in 2022?
And why did Norfolk Southern launch a ten billion dollar stock buyback program last year, when they could have used that money to upgrade safety equipment, hire more workers, or pay their employees better wages?
Disasters like the one in East Palestine are precisely what can happen when safety takes a backseat to maximizing profits. It’s a pattern that has played out to devastating effect over the years: corporate interests lobby the government to loosen safety rules, then they cut costs, cut workers, reward shareholders, and sooner or later, disaster strikes.
And it is so typical—so typical—for people like Donald Trump to do the bidding of special interests, cause harm to the American people—that’s what he did when he loosened railroad regulations—and then point the finger at someone else when something terrible happens. That’s just what he did here. It just doesn’t wash. The American people see right through it.
So once again: I hope the CEO of Norfolk Southern testifies as soon as possible. Norfolk Southern has broken their trust with the American public, and must, must be held accountable.