after lying down In the wake of the devastating East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment, Norfolk Southern is back in Congress to spend millions — and a paper trail indicates it’s lobbying for weaker regulation and playing along Rewarding the members of
From the day of the February 3 derailment until the end of April, the company made no political contributions, instead receiving refunds for donations made to various campaigns. But as the national buzz subsided, the company went back to work.
In the past four months, Norfolk spent $1,657,500 on lobbyists who met with the same elected officials tasked with regulating the company. And in June and July alone, the company paid nearly $200,000 to a myriad of congressional campaigns and political action committees, or PACs, according to recent filings with the Federal Election Commission, including one this week.
As Norfolk went on a spending spree, the bipartisan Railway Safety Act stalled in the Senate, lacking sufficient Republican support. The law was introduced after a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in East Palestine, killing animals and causing symptoms among residents, including rashes, abdominal pain, and respiratory complications, Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y., has Allegedly Bill preferred to decline.
The bill would create stronger safety standards for all trains carrying hazardous materials and ensure that trains like the Ohio derailment would be subject to those rules. It will also mandate two-person crew for all goods trains (which Railway employees have been advocating for this for a long time), limit train length, and increase maximum fines for violating safety rules. (The oil company that manufactured the toxic chemicals dumped in Ohio has also donated heavily to Republicans, pushing to undermine the bill.) lever reported,
Alan Shaw, CEO of Norfolk Southern has Said The company is for “a bipartisan solution to rail safety.” Meanwhile, lobbyists from his company met with members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation in the spring, which vetoed the bill in May. Subsequently, Norfolk Southern sent thousands of dollars to several Republican members of the committee. The company did not respond to a request for comment.
“To be honest, I am not surprised. That’s what Norfolk does. They throw money at people to engage them. They don’t care about security. It’s all about their bottom line, and unfortunately, most people are not above paying,” said Amanda Greathouse, an East Palestine resident who suffers from an unusual rash and whose 5-year-old son is currently experiencing stomach pains. Used to be. “I am sure this will happen again. Maybe next time there will be a bigger population that will take longer to evacuate. It is possible that the coach of the train will explode on collision. Maybe next time people will die. It is sad, but they have money to keep those in power silent.”
during summer, Norfolk Southern donated $5,000 to each PAC affiliated with the GOP Sense. Most of them were members of the Senate Transportation Committee – Marsha Blackburn, Ted Budd, Shelley Moore Capito, John Cornyn, John Hoven and Cynthia Lummis. Meanwhile, Blackburn and Senator Roger Wicker received $1,500 and $5,000, respectively, in their campaign accounts. None of the Republican senators’ offices responded to requests for comment on the donation, nor about their stance on the bipartisan Railway Safety Act.
Meanwhile, some Democrats have also welcomed the cash from the railroad giant. Sens. Joe Manchin and Chris Van Hollen’s PACs each received $5,000. Manchin’s office did not respond to a query about the donation, and Van Hollen’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
In the House, Republican Representative Garrett Graves, chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, received $2,000 from the company a few weeks ago. During the 2022 election cycle, Graves was the leading recipient of cash from the railroad industry — more than the other 434 members of the House.
In addition to donating to individual MPs, Norfolk Southern also contributed to campaigning for both parties. The National Republican Senatorial Committee, the National Republican Congressional Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee each took $15,000 from the railroad giant. The Blue Dog PAC, funded by a handful of conservative Democrats, also received $5,000.
When asked about the bipartisan bill and the Norfolk Southern donation, the NRSC objected. “NRSC is a campaign organisation. The NRSC’s sole goal is to elect a Republican Senate majority,” said NRSC spokesman Philip Letsou. “Your questions would be better suited to the official offices of the Senate.” Other campaign committees did not respond to requests for comment.
Norfolk Southern also donated $5,000 a piece to the PAC led by South Carolina Representative and Democratic Party veteran James Clyburn and House Majority Leader Steve Scalise.
in a string In disclosure forms, the lobbyists, who earned thousands of dollars for each contract, made it clear what they were working on. A disclosure form read, “Meeting with members and staff regarding the East Palestine train derailment / Senate Commerce and Senate EPW (Environment and Public Works).”
Sens. Blackburn, Budd, Lummis, Capito and Wicker – who received money from the company – sit on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. Meanwhile, Capito chairs the Committee on Environment and Public Works, where she is once again joined by Lumis and Wicker.
Senator John Thune, the second-highest-ranking Republican in the Senate, who also sits on the Transportation Committee, is himself a former railroad industry lobbyist who Rail reforms were opposed, The rail safety bill was co-introduced by Ohio Senator JD Vance, who helped lead the charge for an amendment that weakened the law, known as The Lever. informed of, Among the changes he pushed for with Sen. Maria Cantwell, chair of the Transportation Committee, were delays when rail companies would need to update old and vulnerable tank cars, loosening the requirement for roadside defect detectors, and additional The Department of Transportation was stripped of its requirements to issue the rule. For trains carrying hazardous materials and to limit train length and weight.
Lumis went even further trying fail To remove the requirement for a minimum two-person crew on trains – the minimum the industry is opposing.
Many lobbyists working on behalf of the railroad industry previously worked in the halls of Congress are now reserving their congressional staff badges for Norfolk Southern-stamped guest passes. So far this year, 167 of Norfolk Southern’s lobbyists are in industry who were in government jobs. and some were members of Congress themselves, such as former senators Trent Lott (a Republican) and John Breaux (a Democrat). In one of their $60,000 Norfolk Southern contracts, the pair were among lobbyists to speak before Congress on a series of “regulatory issues affecting the railroad industry”, including the bipartisan Railway Safety Act.
In total, Norfolk Southern spent $797,500 on lobbyists before the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee vetoed the rail safety bill in May.
And the railway giant apparently still isn’t satisfied. As in the past month, its lobbyists continued to meet with members of Congress.