U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury, D-N.M., and two other Democratic representatives wrote to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, calling for stricter regulations after a hazardous train derailment spilled toxic chemicals near the Ohio-Pennyslvania border.
The members of Congress said accidents and incidents by three major railroad companies have significantly increased in recent years.
“To prevent the increase in train accidents and incidents per mile that has happened over the last several years, the Department must take bold steps, including regulating the rail industry’s use of wayside defect detectors to ensure they function as intended,” the representatives wrote.
Democratic congressmen Jesús “Chuy” García of Illinois and Hank Johnson of Georgia and Stansbury led the effort and 13 other Democrats also signed it. No Republicans were part of the letter.
“With increasingly dangerous derailments across the United States, the safety of our rail workers and communities should be the number one priority,” Stansbury said in statement. “Rail workers in New Mexico and across the country have been sounding the alarm on the unsafe practices of rail corporations for years. It is time we listen and act.”
Some of the requests were for the Department of Transportation to increase different types of detectors and require timely inspections, among other regulations.
“Rail companies are far too powerful and their regulation is far too weak,” García said. “Our largest railroads are becoming less and less safe, and the derailment in East Palestine is a tragic reminder of this fact.”
A TOP POST: Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández, D-N.M., was elected as a vice chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus.
The current Congress has a record 94 Democratic women, all of whom are part of the caucus.
“In just the first days of the 118th Congress, we’ve seen continued attacks on women and their reproductive rights, but the Democratic Women’s Caucus is here to make clear: not on our watch,” Fernández said in a statement. “In every room, at every hearing, in every debate — both in the halls of Congress and across the country — we will fight for access to abortion, equal pay for equal work, and critical investments in caregiving and health care.”
The caucus is broken down into subgroups that advocate for diversity and inclusion, pro-choice and progressive policies.
“With our diverse new leadership team and historic new membership, the Democratic Women’s Caucus is a powerful coalition that will make sure women’s voices are heard in the halls of power,” said Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Florida.
CANCER SCREENINGS: Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., teamed up with a bipartisan group of senators to introduce a bill they say will increase screenings for colon cancer — a type of cancer that is increasing among younger adults.
The Colorectal Cancer Detection Act would authorize reimbursement from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for any type of Food and Drug Administration-approved blood-based screening tests, which can be done before a more invasive colonoscopy.
Colon cancer cases have been increasing among younger people The proportion of cases among those younger than 55 years increased from 11% in 1995 to 20% in 2019, according to the American Cancer Society.
“Colorectal cancer is one of the most common diseases in New Mexico, but is actually preventable and treatable when found early,” Heinrich said in a statement. “Increasing colorectal cancer screening rates helps with early detection tools and can save lives.”
Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, said colon cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer-related deaths.
“This legislation would increase screening options for Medicare beneficiaries, helping to improve detection among an otherwise unscreened population,” he said.
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