Published On: Wed, Feb 14th, 2018

Schumer Caves on Rail Agency Nominee

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Tuesday told Republican leaders that Democrats will accept a vote on a nominee to head the Federal Railroad Administration, Politicoreports.

Schumer had opposed a vote on President Donald Trump’s nominee, Ronald Batory, since August, when he was unanimously confirmed by the Senate Commerce Committee. He and other Democrats from the New York area reportedly felt frustrated with the administration’s resistance to a large-scale project to rebuild New York City’s rail infrastructure.

Commerce committee chairman Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., contacted Schumer following the train crash in South Carolina earlier this month, in which an Amtrak train collided with a CSX freight train.

“After the South Carolina Amtrak accident, Thune came back to Washington very upset at the series of passenger rail accidents where there have been deaths and injuries,” an unnamed aide to the Senator told The Washington Free Beacon.

“Thune was ready to go again to the Senate floor to see if anyone was going to step up in these circumstances and object to confirming Batory like they did in December, but before he did that he reached out to Schumer.”

According to this aide, Thune told Schumer last Wednesday that “we need to get somebody at this agency, because otherwise I’m going to the Senate floor to do this again.”

Schumer then asked Thune hold off while he spoke to members of his party, and on Monday told Thune that Democrats won’t object to a vote the next time it’s brought to the floor.

“It was not a transactional conversation,” the aide said. “The only thing Schumer asked for was time and for Thune to hold off on going to the Senate floor.”

Thune hailed the progress on Batory’s confirmation as a “win for railroad safety,” in a statement, according to the Free Beacon.

“Even as his confirmation languished, consensus that Ronald Batory was highly qualified to serve as administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration never waned,” he said. “His conformation is a win for railroad safety and I expect him to have an impact.”

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Schumer Caves on Rail Agency Nominee