Biden urges bipartisan cooperation on Railroad Safety Act

by Jacob Fuller

Lauren C. Moye, FISM News

President Joe Biden urged bipartisan cooperation to pass new railroad safety legislation yesterday to prevent more tragedies of trains derailing while carrying hazardous material.

On Thursday, Ohio Sens. Sherrod Brown and J.D. Vance announced a bipartisan Railroad Safety Act to place new regulations on trains carrying hazardous materials. Biden urged legislators from both political parties to cooperate to pass the bill into law.

“I encourage Republicans and Democrats alike to move quickly to advance these commonsense rail safety measures and send me a bill to sign into law,” Biden said in a released statement.

Biden applauded several items in the bill, such as decreasing the distance between hotbox detectors to every 10 miles. This would have helped the Norfolk Southern train crew see how fast the gearbox temperature was rising, allowing them to stop before the disaster struck near East Palestine, Ohio on Feb. 3.

The bill also calls for greater fines for companies that violate safety rules and an increase in fees paid by railroad companies to state and local first responders for HAZMAT training and responses.

The Norfolk Southern train was not breaking any rules at the time it derailed or the company’s own internal safety guidelines, according to a preliminary safety board report.

This has led Democrats like U.S. Transportation Department Secretary Pete Buttigieg to blame the previous administration for deregulating an Obama-era rule that would have required electronically controlled pneumatic brakes on long trains carrying hazardous material.

Biden also hinted at this overrule from former President Donald Trump when he said that even more steps would need to be taken beyond the Railroad Safety Act “like require state of the art braking systems.”

National Transportation Safety Board Jennifer Homendy previously said this rule would not have applied to the “mixed freight train” in the Feb. 3 derailment incident.


Biden also pledged to visit East Palestine at “some point” when speaking to reporters yesterday afternoon. There are no other details on the vague promise.

“We will be implementing an awful lot through the legislation here, and I will be out there at some point,” Biden said.

Just last week, Biden said he had no plans to visit the disaster zone despite mounting criticism of his administration’s leadership during the time. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said later on Thursday that she had no travel plans to announce for the president.

Biden defended his conduct while speaking to the press.

“I’ve spoken with every official in Ohio, Democrat, and Republican, on a continuous basis, as in Pennsylvania. I laid out a little bit in there what I think the answers are, and we put it together,” he said, referring to the train safety act.

“He should come, there’s no doubt about it,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said in an interview with Fox News on Thursday. “The president needs to come. The people want to see the president. He should be there.”

DeWine said that while he had spoken with Biden multiple times since Feb. 3, there had been no explanation for the president’s absence.

On Feb. 3, a Norfolk Southern train derailed near East Palestine, Ohio. The train was carrying hazardous materials. Locals continue to report what is most likely chemically-induced illnesses more than twenty days after the fact.