Key Senators Eye "Robust" Rail Reform Legislation

The Senate's Commerce and Judiciary Committees are working together to craft "comprehensive rail competition legislation." The June 1 announcement came as the Senate was moving toward consideration of a pending rail antitrust bill (S. 146), sponsored by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.).

S. 146 would repeal railroad antitrust exemptions and remove the Surface Transportation Board's exclusive jurisdiction over the industry.  Railroad representatives argue that that bill would impose new and conflicting regulations.

Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who chairs the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and Kohl, who chairs the Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee, said they would ask Majority Leader Reid to ignore the Kohl bill while they work together on new joint legislation.

"We hope to shortly have a bipartisan package that reforms the Surface Transportation Board and repeals the railroads' antitrust exemption available for consideration by the full Senate," they said. "We are working on harmonizing our two efforts to produce a robust reform package." 

"We share the common goals of addressing the long-standing concerns of rail shippers and making the rail industry more competitive," Rockefeller and Kohl wrote. They said the proposed bill is a high priority and they are "absolutely committed to finding real solutions that can be enacted into law this year."