Skip to comments.Schumer Continues to Block Pick to Lead Top Railroad Regulation Agency
Posted on 12/24/2017 10:02:27 AM PST by MarvinStinson
Top Senate Dem blocks vote on FRA nominee days after fatal train derailment
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) ended the Senate's legislative year blocking the Trump administration's pick to head the Federal Railroad Administration due to his demand that the federal government provide billions of dollars in funding for a major tunnel project between New York and New Jersey.
Ronald Batory, a widely respected former railroad executive with over four decades of experience in the industry, was approved unanimously for the FRA post by members of the Senate Commerce Committee in early August, but Schumer has blocked efforts to get the confirmation vote to the Senate floor.
The latest action by Schumer came late Thursday afternoon, when he objected to a motion by Sen. John Thune (R., S.D.) for unanimous consent to have a vote on Batory's nomination.
There were rumblings that Schumer may drop his obstruction effort given his calls following Monday's fatal train derailment in Washington for the FRAan agency created by the Department of Transportation to ensure railway safetyto push harder to implement Positive Train Control (PTC) technology.
Thune said he was "deeply frustrated" that a "non-controversial, highly qualified nominee has been languishing in the Senate for over four months due to objections by a handful of Democrats over a parochial issue entirely unrelated to the qualifications."
Thune criticized Schumer on the Senate floor for saying the agency isn't doing enough on PTC as he obstructs Batory's nomination.
"[Schumer] said that the Department of Transportation is not pushing federal PTC hard enough," Thune said. "Well, if you truly believe that DOT needs to do more, why is he, along with a few of his colleagues, standing in the way of Mr. Batory's nomination."
"When finally confirmed [Batory] will play a significant role in successful Positive Train Control implementation," he said.
"The time for playing political games with this agency should be over," Thune said just before Schumer blocked the nomination.
"I'm beyond words to explain why we are objecting to someone who is unanimously approved out of the committee to run an incredibly important safety agency," Thune said after the objection. "I hope this is the last time."
An administration official told the Washington Free Beacon in an email that Schumer was choosing to "prioritize politics over safety."
"Sadly, just days after a deadly derailment Sen. Schumer has yet again chosen to prioritize politics over safety," the official said.
Schumer similarly attempted to block other DOT nominees over his demands for federal funding for the costly Gateway Tunnel Project, but Republicans have slowly managed to push some through.
The administration has made no commitment to fund the Gateway project, calling a recent proposal by New York and New Jersey "entirely unserious."
He can only do it because that =”^%&:!! McConnell let’s him.
That no Dem voted for the tax plan is an absurdity. How the hell do they explain it to their "sheep".
I think it is hilarious - McConnell is letting Chuckie have something to play with. Chuckie has been relegated to blocking the head of the railroad. Can’t stop judges, tax cuts, Obamacare mandate, or Trump but he can play with his trains.
I wonder why Schumer wants the tunnel built. In general I don’t think the federal government should be funding these kinds of local infrastructure projects, but it seems like something that could be negotiated into the infrastructure bill Trump wants passed. Anyone here that would benefit from the tunnel and care to explain the justification for it?
One of the few things that concern me about Trump’s agenda is his push for this infrastructure legislation. Surely, it would be a huge pork barrel that invites graft, corruption and abuse. Who’s going to prioritize what gets done? What criteria would be used? How much will it cost? What federal agency will be responsible and accountable for oversight?
Easy, just post and tweet.... Schumer wants to kill train passengers!
I wonder if Schumer is doing this because he knows that the “crewless train” is not only now practicable, but will be accepted by the public long before the “driverless truck?”
They won’t have to explain anything. Their voters are fully indoctrinated into believing that democrats are good and republicans are evil.
If New York and New Jersey want billions for a major tunnel project let THEM tax THEIR citizens to pay for it. Meanwhile, folks escaping New York taxes can queue up at the bridges out of town.
“I wonder why Schumer wants the tunnel built.”
More “shelter” for illegals and homeless? Better “accommodations” for sewer rats?
Take your pick, they are all one in the same!
NYS can’t afford Chuckie’s damm tunnel.
And the other 49 shouldn’t have their pockets picked to pay for it.
I like it. Unlike Obamacare, the voters will generally like the results they get from the tax vote. It needs to be mentioned by various Administration mouthpieces that the Democrats to a man wanted none of it.
To brag to the unions that he's providing local jobs.
I dont think the federal government should be funding these kinds of local infrastructure projects...
Exactly. Just look at the Boston's "Big Dig" boondoggle.
A tunnel leaks, already killed somebody with the ceiling crashing down, light fixtures rusting away, etc.
I think the ceiling was actually a concrete drop ceiling that was shoddily fastened. One of the big questions was why was concrete used to hide the ventilation infrastructure rather than aluminum panels.
One of the better stories during its construction was a failed concrete pour. An epoxy specialist was called it to fix it, and when he arrived, a union agent was there to insist on hiring his members. The specialist asks "Do they have any experience with epoxy?" The agent told him "These guys can't spell 'epoxy'..."