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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.
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.
Also Happening on the Hill
- The House returns Tuesday.
- The Senate convenes at 3 p.m. for a judicial nomination vote.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell—who heads to Capitol Hill this week—is expected to echo fellow central bankers in suggesting interest rates will go higher than policymakers anticipated just weeks ago if economic data continue to come in hot.
US Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) plans to introduce a bill this week to allow the US to systematically ban Chinese technology, including services like TikTok, he told Fox News on Sunday.
Alaska’s congressional delegation personally appealed to President Joe Biden to approve a proposed ConocoPhillips oil development in the state, joining a last-minute lobbying frenzy around the project that’s being cast as a test of his commitment to combating climate change.
- Separately, almost two dozen congressional Democrats told Biden in a letter on Friday there’s legal authority for his administration to block proposed drilling if necessary to mitigate “significantly adverse effects” on its surface resources.
Biden will travel to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to release his budget for fiscal year 2024, according to a White House statement.
Join Bloomberg Government’s budget experts on Friday for a deep dive into Biden’s budget request for fiscal 2024 and what it means with a divided Congress. Learn more here .
Elections, Politics & Probes
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
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
Biden listed accomplishments in the White House, including appointing the first Black woman Supreme Court justice, as he sought to strengthen ties with Black voters at a hallowed site for the 1960s civil-rights movement ahead of a planned 2024 reelection bid.
Biden’s sudden reversal on a rewrite of the criminal laws in the nation’s capital is an early sign that he — and his Democratic party — are accepting the uncomfortable reality that crime will be a big issue in the 2024 election cycle.
Biden would “never even discuss” taking a mental competency test suggested by Republican presidential candidate Haley for politicians older than 75, first lady Jill Biden said.
- Separately, Biden had a cancerous skin lesion removed from his chest last month during his regularly scheduled annual check-up, according to a letter from the president’s physician. Read more
Around the Administration
- At 12:15 p.m., Biden headlines the International Association of Fire Fighters Legislative Conference in Washington.
- Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre at 1:30 p.m. gives a briefing.
The Biden administration is nearing completion of an executive order that would restrict investments by US companies in parts of the Chinese economy, including advanced technologies that could enhance China’s military and intelligence capabilities, people familiar with the matter said.
An agreement reached Saturday night on the wording of a historic United Nations treaty to protect marine biodiversity could mark the end of the unregulated exploitation of the ocean, an increasingly urgent concern as climate impacts multiply.
Agencies are seeing less money in small business contracts going to female firms despite federal efforts to increase work with women-owned small companies, federal procurement data show.
Starbucks and other companies are on notice that, with a sweeping ruling from a judge last week, the National Labor Relations Board is signaling its willingness to ramp up its remedy powers and curb what it sees as employers’ attempts to flout labor law.
To contact the reporter on this story: Michaela Ross in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Brandon Lee at email@example.com