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INVEST Act clears T&I Committee after railroads’ attack falls short

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, June 10 — Early this morning, the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America Act (INVEST Act) was passed by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee by a 38-26 vote. Republicans Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon of Puerto Rico joined the 36 Democrats on the Committee in approving the Bill.

However, the Committee first had to dispose of several pro-railroad and anti-worker amendments that were offered by Committee members, including:

• a proposal by Congressman Brian Babin (R-TX) to allow Mexican crews to operate trains up to 20 air-miles within the United States, which he later withdrew; and

• a proposal by Congressman Scott Perry (R-PA) to eliminate the two-person crew provision, which also was later withdrawn.

The INVEST Act would authorize $547 billion in spending over five years on surface transportation, would mandate two-person crews on freight trains, and would triple funding for Amtrak.

It also would address a number of Rail Labor’s safety concerns, in addition to crew size and mandatory crew changes at the southern border. These include a requirement that railroads report all PTC system failures to the FRA, and a mandate to improvement fatigue management. The INVEST Act also requires a study on the safety impact of long trains, including consideration of safety factors such as loss of communication between the head-end and the rear of the train, and in-train forces that can lead to increased risk of derailments.

“Committee passage of the INVEST Act is an important victory for BLET members and all rail workers,” BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce said. “My thanks go to the Democratic and Republican T&I Committee members who voted for the Bill, and to our National Legislative Office and the Teamsters Legislative Department who teamedup to defeat all the anti-worker amendments that were proposed.

“This is one step in a lengthy process, and we can expect to see more harmful amendments when the Bill moves to the Senate. BLET members will play an important role this summer in ensuring passage in the House, and demanding that our issues be addressed in the Senate.”

It is expected that the full House of Representatives will take up the INVEST Act in the coming weeks.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

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