GOP Demands Rail Safety Fixes After Years of Ignoring Rail Safety
The Norfolk Southern derailment could be an opportunity for both parties to address rail safety issues. It could also be an opportunity for partisan finger-pointing.
February 27, 2023
The first—and perhaps most revealing—reactions on Capitol Hill to the toxic train derailment in Ohio played out in passive-aggressive Twitter exchanges between powerful officials.
On Feb. 13, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) tweeted that congressional inquiry and “direct action” from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg were needed to “address this tragedy.”
“Fully agree,” replied Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Omar’s ideological opposite.
Buttigieg then chimed in. “Glad to see newfound bipartisan agreement here,” he tweeted at Cruz. “We could start by discussing immediate steps Congress could take to address rail safety & reduce constraints on USDOT in this area. Give us a call, we can do some good work.”
As the disaster in East Palestine quickly becomes fodder for political agendas in Washington, the more quietly considered question is whether policymakers will be capable of doing any “good work” to prevent similar debacles in the future.
Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have signaled they’re game to work together on a legislative response, leading some to believe there’s a moment for bipartisan compromise in regulating a key industry that rarely receives broad scrutiny.
Many Democrats are upset that this derailment, which is causing serious stress on the affected area, has escalated into a “messaging war.”
Some, like Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA), readily admit that Buttigieg could have spoken out quicker on the crisis and traveled sooner to East Palestine. But he expressed the frustration of many Democrats that the GOP political apparatus has revved up to attack Buttigieg—while Republican lawmakers dismiss accountability for the Trump administration’s actions as political posturing.
“We have to break out of the partisan silliness and tackle this problem honestly,” said Huffman, who sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee that focuses on railway safety.
“Democrats are ready to do that without too much shaming of Republicans,” Huffman said. “The question is whether our GOP colleagues can handle the task of fixing a problem they created during the Trump years.”
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By: Sam Brodey
Source: The Daily Best
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