Biden hails bipartisan rail safety bill
President Joe Biden on Thursday praised bipartisan legislation that would strengthen safety rules governing railroads, following the fiery Ohio train derailment that left residents concerned about the air and water quality in the town of East Palestine.
The legislation was introduced by Ohio Sens. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, and J.D. Vance, a Republican, and four other senators Wednesday. The Railway Safety Act would bolster a slew of railroad safety measures including raising fines for safety infractions, increasing inspections and imposing new requirements for trains carrying toxic or hazardous materials.
“I applaud the bipartisan group of senators for proposing rail safety legislation that provides many of the solutions that my administration has been calling for,” Biden said in a statement Thursday. “This legislation provides us with tools to hold companies accountable to prevent terrible tragedies like the Norfolk Southern derailment in East Palestine and to make those communities whole.”
Republicans have been critical of the White House’s response to the derailment, accusing the administration of moving too slowly. But the White House has repeatedly pushed back, noting that federal officials were at the site hours after the crash. Biden, who has been criticized for having yet to visit East Palestine, said on Thursday that he planned to travel there “at some point.”
“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. And we will be implementing an awful lot to the legislation here. And I will be out there at some point,” the president told reporters.