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BLET applauds passage of INVEST in America Act by U.S. House of Representatives

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, July 2 — The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen thanks members of Congress for their ongoing support of the INVEST in America Act (H.R. 3684), which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on July 1. The bill would fund critical rail and other infrastructure needs, while mandating important safety improvements for rail workers.

The INVEST in America Act would authorize $547 billion in spending over five years on surface transportation, mandate two-person crews on freight trains, provide for mandatory train crew changes at the U.S.-Mexican border, and triple funding for Amtrak.

It also would address a number of additional safety concerns, including a requirement that railroads report all PTC system failures to the FRA, a mandate to improve fatigue management, and a requirement to study 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, as well as in-train forces that can lead to increased risk of derailments.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee approved the bill by a 38-26 vote on June 10, and the full House of Representatives passed it by a vote of 221-201 on July 1. In the T&I Committee, supporters of the bill were able to overcome proposed amendments intended to weaken worker protections. But in the end, the bill retained a provision to mandate crew changes at the southern border as well as a requirement for two-person train crews — both key issues for the BLET and its members.

The bill was introduced on June 4, 2021, by Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Chair of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and Chair of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ).

“I thank the legislators in the House of Representatives who voted in favor of the INVEST in America Act,” BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce said. “The safety measures contained in this bill will go a long way toward improving safety in the railroad industry and protecting the lives of railroad workers and citizens throughout the United States whose communities are near railroad lines. I also thank the BLET National Legislative Office and the Teamsters Legislative Department for their ongoing efforts to ensure the passage of this bill. As I said previously, this is one step in a lengthy process, but it is encouraging to see what we can accomplish when we elect worker-friendly legislators to govern our great nation.”

BLET Vice President and National Legislative Representative Vince Verna said: “I’d like to thank Chairman DeFazio and his staff and all the Democrats who supported this bill, in addition to Republican Congressmen Fitzpatrick (PA-1) and Smith (NJ-4) for their helpful votes to pass the bill. They all worked hard with BLET to get it right.”

It is expected that the U.S. Senate will take up the INVEST in America Act in the coming weeks.

Friday, July 2, 2021
bentley@ble-t.org

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