President Bush signs rail security bill into law
On August 3, President Bush signed into law the "Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007." Passage of the bill is a milestone accomplishment for the BLET and all of Rail Labor.
The comprehensive legislation includes significant rail security measures that had originally been introduced in such bills as H.R. 1269 and H.R. 1401, "The Rail and Public Transportation Security Act of 2007."
According to John Tolman, BLET Vice President and National Legislative Representative, Rail Labor has worked to achieve some of the measures contained in this bill since 2001.
But in recent months, the BLET and Teamsters Rail Conference testified numerous times on behalf of this legislation, and many BLET State Legislative Board Chairmen visited the nation's Capitol to lobby on the bill's behalf. The new law is also a huge first step in addressing many of the concerns raised in the Teamsters Rail Conference "High Alert" report.
The U.S. House and Senate overwhelmingly approved the legislation on July 31, which Democrats introduced when they took over control of Congress in January.
Some of the favorable measures in the law include:
"Many of these measures would not have been addressed to the degree they have been addressed without the diligent work of Rail Labor," Tolman said. "We fought to elect a Congress that would finally address our concerns, and then followed through with that Congress to keep the pressure on to pass this important legislation.
"There will be a considerable amount of additional work to do with some of the regulatory requirements the law stakes out, as well as in the appropriations process where designated money actually gets sent out and spent, but all in all, this is a strong, solid step in the right direction.
"It was also a major goal in our ambitious legislative agenda this year, and we have met it. It was a tough fight, but in the end a bi-partisan bill was overwhelmingly passed by both houses of Congress and was signed by the President. If, throughout the summer and in the early fall, we can accomplish the same with regards to Rail Safety Legislation (H.R. 2095 & S. 1889) our membership, as well as the industry and our country will be well served.
"I congratulate all of the BLET and BMWED members of the Teamsters Rail Conference for their victory and thank you all for your hard work."
© 2007 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen