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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

House lawmakers introduce bill to protect U.S. rail-car manufacturers


A bipartisan group of lawmakers this week introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would prevent federal transit funds from being issued by transit agencies to procure Chinese rail cars and other rail assets.

Introduced by U.S. Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Calif.), the Transportation Infrastructure Vehicle Security Act also would ensure transit agencies develop and implement a cybersecurity plan, Rouda said this week in a press release.

The aim of the bill is to combat efforts by China to "undermine the U.S. economy and national security," the press release stated.

"China's 'Made in China 2025' initiative is an unmistakable effort to harm American manufacturers by subsidizing Chinese rail and bus industries," said Rouda. "Chinese companies misrepresent themselves as benevolent actors, but let’s be clear: this is an attack on our economy and national security."

Co-sponsors of the House bill include U.S. Reps. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), Scott Perry (R-Penn.), Kay Granger (R-Texas), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), Elanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) , Randy Weber (R-Texas) and John Garamendi (D-Calif.).

Earlier this spring, the Senate version was introduced by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).

Meanwhile, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee yesterday held a hearing on the impact of "state-owned enterprises" — such as Chinese manufacturers — on the U.S. public transit and freight-rail sectors.

Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said in a prepared statement that the hearing's purpose was not about one particular nation, but about how Congress will respond to other nations' "systematically wiping out the U.S. transit and rail manufacturing base and our blue-collar workforce."

The committee heard from witnesses that raised concerns about the impact state-owned enterprises and similar companies have had on U.S. rail and bus rolling stock market, the long-term effect on U.S. workers and cybersecurity risks. DeFazio shares those concerns, he said.

"Currently, U.S. companies produce the majority of the freight-rail cars that haul shipments across the country. Nearly 65,000 jobs are supported by the production of these rail cars," said DeFazio. "But as the Australian domestic manufacturing sector experienced, if left unchecked, state-owned enterprises can enter the market, dominate production, and squeeze-out domestic companies. We cannot let that happen in the U.S."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/17/2019