Senate’s Legislative year ended by the blockage of Trump administration’s choice to lead the Federal Railroad Administration by the Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer. This was because of his demand for the funds of a huge tunnel construction project between New York and New Jersey, and the project costs billions of dollars.
A former railroad executive – Ronald Batory, with a massive experience in the industry, was selected unanimously for his FRA post by the Senate Commerce Committee in August this year, but Schumer has blocked all his attempts to get the final confirmation vote from the Senate Floor.
Schumer, in his attempt to block the confirmation on Thursday, opposed the motion brought forward by Senator John Thune for consent to vote on Batory’s nomination.
Schumer would give up his attempts to block the nomination voting if his calls for immediately implementing the Positive Train Control – PTC technology are answered. The calls for putting PTC into effect was because of the fatal train derailment in Washington on Monday for FRA. FRA is the agency created by the Department of Transportation to ensure rail safety.
Thune, on the other hand, said that he was “deeply frustrated” as the “non-controversial, highly qualified nominee has been languishing in the Senate for over four months due to objections by a handful of Democrats over a parochial issue entirely unrelated to the qualifications.”
He also slammed Schumer on the Senate floor as Schumer said that the agency is not working like it should on PTC as he stops the nomination for Batory.
“[Schumer] said that the Department of Transportation is not pushing federal PTC hard enough,” Thune said. “Well, if you truly believe that DOT needs to do more, why is he, along with a few of his colleagues, standing in the way of Mr. Batory’s nomination. When finally confirmed [Batory] will play a significant role in successful Positive Train Control implementation.”
“The time for playing political games with this agency should be over,” he further said as Schumer blocked the nomination.
“I’m beyond words to explain why we are objecting to someone who is unanimously approved out of the committee to run an incredibly important safety agency,” Thune had said after the objection. “I hope this is the last time.” Another of the administration official in an email said that Schumer was opting to “prioritize politics over safety.”
“Sadly, just days after a deadly derailment Sen. Schumer has yet again chosen to prioritize politics over safety,” the official had said.
Schumer had similarly tried to block several other DOT nominees for his demands for more federal funding for the absurdly expensive Gateway Tunnel Project, but the Republicans have managed to push some of them through.
The administration, as of yet, has committed nothing to fund the Gateway project, and called a recent proposal by the New York and New Jersey “entirely unserious.”