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Kohl, Rockefeller oust rail antitrust bill from Senate until they usher in new joint legislation

The Railroad Antitrust Enforcement Act of 2009 (S. 146) won’t reach the Senate floor for a vote today, as had been anticipated. Yesterday, Sens. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) — who introduced S. 146 — and John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) announced they reached an agreement to include antitrust legislation in a different bill that would aim to overhaul the Surface Transportation Board (STB).

Kohl, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, and Rockefeller, who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee, asked majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to remove S. 146 from Senate consideration while they work together on a new joint bill.

“We share the common goals of addressing the longstanding concerns of rail shippers and making the rail industry more competitive,” Kohl and Rockefeller said in a joint statement issued to senators yesterday. “We hope to shortly have a bipartisan package that reforms the [STB] and repeals the railroads’ antitrust exemption available for the consideration by the full Senate. We are working on harmonizing our two efforts to produce a robust reform package.”

Rockefeller previously stated that S. 146 would undercut his proposed legislation to overhaul the STB, a bill the Senate Commerce Committee is working to draft. Last week, he joined Sens. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), John Thune (R-S.D.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) in sending a letter to colleagues that urged them to vote against S. 146, which was supported by some shipper groups and opposed by the rail industry.

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