Friday, September 2, 2022

Review - HR 8649 Introduced – STB Authorization

Last month, Rep Payne (D,NJ) introduced HR 8649, the Freight Rail Shipping Fair Market Act. This bill is a reauthorization bill for the Surface Transportation Board (STB). The bill includes revisions to rail service provisions in USC. The bill also provides for the establishment of a “Passenger-Freight Rail Transportation Advisory Council”. The bill includes funding authorization for the STB, starting at $48 million in FY 2023, and gradually increasing to $55 million in FY 2027.

The bill includes the following sections that may have an impact on freight rail service rules:

§203. Service delivery standards in contracts.

§204. Leveling the playing field on demurrage charges.

§205. Minimum service delivery standards for common carrier transportation, service, and rates.

§206. Updating STB emergency powers.

§207. Support for freight car GPS and other telemetry systems

Moving Forward

Payne and one of this three cosponsors {Rep DeFazio(D,OR)} are members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to which this bill was assigned for consideration. This means that there should be sufficient influence to see this bill considered in Committee. There will be some Republican opposition to this bill because of the influence of the railroads who will object to many of the measures included in the bill. Even so, there should be sufficient support to allow the bill to pass in Committee with some Republican support, as many rail shippers will be supporting this bill.

I do not think that there will be sufficient Republican support, however, for the bill to be considered under the suspension of the rules process. Thus, it will be interesting to see if there is sufficient influence to see the bill considered under regular order in the crowded sessions in the limited floor days left in this Congress. I do not suspect that it will. This bill could, however, end up as part of the year end spending bill.

For more information on the freight rail service issues addressed in this bill, see my article at CFSN Detailed Analysis - - Subscription required.

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