What to Know in Washington: New Derailment Draws Congress’ Ire

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A second freight train derailment in Ohio within a month is giving new impetus for rail safety legislation in Congress, as Democrats and Republicans prepare to grill Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw when he testifies to a Senate committee Thursday.

“The big railroads have weakened safety rules or resisted safety rules for years,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. “But you’d think a disaster that happened in East Palestine would have gotten their attention.”

Saturday’s train derailment happened outside Springfield, Ohio — about 180 miles west of East Palestine, where a derailment last month spilled toxic chemicals into the rural community along the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. Initial reports indicate that there were no hazardous materials spilled in the Springfield incident.

Photographer: Bill Lackey/Springfield-News Sun/AP Photo

Brown is the lead sponsor of a rail-safety bill that would require more disclosure of hazardous materials traversing states, inspections of wheel bearings and mandate minimum crew sizes. And it would increase penalties for violations.

Brown’s bill has co-sponsors from across the political spectrum, including Republicans JD Vance (Ohio), Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Josh Hawley (Mo.) as well as Democrats Bob Casey and John Fetterman of neighboring Pennsylvania.

Ohio Rep. Mike Turner (R), who represents the area around Saturday’s derailment, added his own frustration with the rail industry, calling the spate of Ohio derailments — now four in the last five months — “outrageous.”

“What we’ve seen, you know, recently with the risk to communities is unacceptable,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “And the fact that we’re having derailment after derailment shows really the lack of investment, the disinvestment, in our infrastructure, and that needs to change.”

Still, some ideological rifts were apparent. Brown blamed the derailments in part on stock buybacks, CEO pay and workforce reductions — issues unlikely to get agreement from Republicans. Read more from Gregory Korte.

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Elections, Politics & Probes

Trump Vows to ‘Finish’ Mission, Cements Dominance Over CPAC

Donald Trump vowed that the Republican Party would never return to what it was before he transformed it in his image, and he promised to “finish what we started” in another term — even if he’s indicted and despite polls showing many GOP voters want an alternative.

Trump said in the keynote speech to close the Conservative Political Action Conference in suburban Washington that the GOP will never go back to a party of “globalists” and “RINOs” or Republicans in Name Only ruled by “freaks, neocons, globalists, open border zealots and fools.”

The former president is facing multiple investigations, including for his handling of classified documents and his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection, but he told reporters before the speech “absolutely I wouldn’t even think about leaving” the race if he’s indicted. Read more

  • Some prominent criminal defense lawyers are mostly resisting the idea that their high-powered firms would represent Trump if he’s indicted. Read more
  • Back at home when holed up at his resort in Palm Beach, Florida, Trump spends many mornings golfing and then, in the afternoons, plots his political comeback. Read more
Al Drago/Bloomberg
Former President Donald Trump after speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, on Saturday.

More Highlights from CPAC:

  • Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley was met with chants of “We love Trump” and other jeers from supporters of the former president after she finished her speech to the gathering of influential conservatives. Read more
  • Meanwhile, Ohio biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy is basing his long-shot Republican campaign for president in 2024 on persuading even hard-core supporters of Trump that he can take the former president’s “America First” agenda “to the next level.” Read more
  • Former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a vocal GOP critic of Trump, said he will not seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 because he doesn’t want divide the Republican field and help to hand Trump a victory. Read more
  • Conservative activists signaled the attack on those who believe environmental, social and governance criteria should be used to guide investing is just getting started. Read more
  • Former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro got an enthusiastic welcome at CPAC and said his “mission is not over” while leaving open the possibility that his movement might continue without him. Read more

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Around the Administration


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Women-Owned Business Contracts Decrease Despite Growth Programs

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To contact the reporter on this story: Michaela Ross in Washington at mross@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Brandon Lee at blee@bgov.com

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