After Ohio Train Derailment, Senators Propose Rail Safety Bill

After a train carrying hazardous materials was derailled outside East Palestine, Ohio, a bipartisan group of legislators suggested that the Transportation Department adopt stricter rules. The lawmakers claim that the current regulations don't adequately protect against such accidents.

Senators Sherrod brown, a Democrat and J.D. Vance, a Republican, drafted the measure. Vance, a Republican from Ohio, would increase safety penalties for rail carriers who violate safety regulations, strengthen notification and inspection requirements for trains carrying hazardous material, and authorize $27million for research into safety improvements. The bill's bipartisan nature, which is co-sponsored both by Senators Marco Rubio from Florida and Josh Hawley, both Republicans, suggests that it could gain momentum in the Senate. Major legislation requires 60 votes to pass the Senate. "It shouldn’t take a huge railroad disaster for elected officials... to put partisanship aside... and work together for people we serve -- corporations like Norfolk Southern," Mr. Brown stated in a statement. He was referring to the train's operator. Official responses to the derailment were marked by fierce partisanship. Republicans criticized the Biden administration's handling and subsequent ecological disaster, and they savaged the president and Pete Buttigieg (the transportation secretary). Both parties' lawmakers have stepped up their response to the disaster. Senator Chuck Schumer (Democrat of New York) called for Alan Shaw, chief executive of Norfolk Southern to testify at Capitol Hill. Senate proposal would require rail carriers to give advance notice to state emergency responders about the transport they are carrying. "Congress has a real chance to make sure that what happened in East Palestine won't happen again through this legislation," Mr. Vance stated in a statement. Some legislators have stated that they aren't ready to act. Missouri Republican Representative Sam Graves told Fox News last month he wants to understand all the details of the derailment before Congress acts.