Lawmakers tout rail safety plan amid East Palestine derailment
"Congress has a real opportunity to ensure that what happened in East Palestine will never happen again," Vance said.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Wednesday proposed legislation to strengthen railway safety regulations in the wake of a major train derailment in Ohio last month that saw toxic materials leak from the railcars.
Ohio Sens. Sherrod Brown, D, and J.D. Vance, R, led the group of senators backing the measure, which would require a minimum two-person crew for all trains and imposes regulations on railcar wheel bearings, the Washington Times reported. Apart from Vance, Republican Sens. Marco Rubio, Fla., and Josh Hawley, Mo., are the only Republicans who have signed on to the bill thus far.
"Congress has a real opportunity to ensure that what happened in East Palestine will never happen again. We owe every American the peace of mind that their community is protected from a catastrophe of this kind," Vance said of the bill.
The Feb. 3 derailment of a Norfolk Southern train near the town of East Palestine, Ohio, prompted an evacuation of the town and authorities had to implement a controlled release of the toxic materials to avert an explosion. The derailment attracted national attention and directed considerable scrutiny toward Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for his seemingly sluggish response. The bill would urge the DOT to review its existing guidelines on optimal train weight and size.
Brown lamented that such a tragedy had predicated progress on the measure, saying "it shouldn’t take a massive railroad disaster for elected officials to put partisanship aside and work together for the people we serve," per the Times. "Rail lobbyists have fought for years to protect their profits at the expense of communities."
"These commonsense bipartisan safety measures will finally hold big railroad companies accountable, make our railroads and the towns along them safer, and prevent future tragedies so no community has to suffer like East Palestine again," he concluded.
Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on Twitter.