Ranking Member Raskin Calls on Chairman Comer to Hold Public Hearing Following Closed-Door Staff Briefing with Norfolk Southern Representatives
Washington, D.C. (March 16, 2023)—Rep. Jamie Raskin, Ranking Member of the Committee on Oversight and Accountability, issued the following statement after Committee staff received a phone briefing from representatives from Norfolk Southern, the operator of the derailed train in East Palestine, Ohio, which Committee Republicans requested after refusing to join Committee Democrats in demanding answers from the company’s CEO, Alan Shaw, about Norfolk Southern’s role in and response to the train derailment:
“Instead of joining Committee Democrats in demanding real answers from Norfolk Southern—a company with a well-established history of train accidents and safety problems—Committee Republicans chose to hold an hour-long, closed-door staff briefing with company lawyers, which failed to address many of Committee Democrats’ outstanding questions. Last week, Chairman Comer responded to Committee Democrats’ calls by acknowledging the need for transparency on this important issue. I am therefore calling on the Chairman to make good on his promise by holding a public hearing with Norfolk Southern so that we can ensure true accountability for the residents of East Palestine and for the American people.”
On March 1, 2023, Ranking Member Raskin and Subcommittee Ranking Members Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, Rep. Cori Bush, Rep. Kweisi Mfume, Rep. Katie Porter, and Rep. Robert Garcia, sent a letter to Chairman James Comer urging him to seek answers from Norfolk Southern, the owner and operator of the derailed train in East Palestine, Ohio, about its role in and response to the accident.
On March 6, 2023, Ranking Member Raskin led Committee Democrats in sending a letter to the CEO of Norfolk Southern, demanding answers and information on the company’s role in, and response to, the February 3, 2023, train derailment and calling on Mr. Alan Shaw to make the victims of the derailment whole. The letter followed Committee Republicans’ refusal to send a public letter to Norfolk Southern despite evidence of the company’s longstanding history of prioritizing profits over safety.
On March 8, 2023, Oversight Committee Democrats applauded the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Railroad Administration (USDOTFRA) for opening inquiries into Norfolk Southern due to its history of repeated rail accidents and questionable safety culture. Following the agencies’ announcements, the Ohio Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern citing concerns that the company may be putting profits over the health and safety of the communities in which they operate.
On March 9, 2023, during a full Committee hearing, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez highlighted the urgent need for transparency and for Ranking Member Comer to hold a public hearing on the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment.