The White House said Monday that obstruction by Senate Democrats is hindering the federal government’s investigations of two deadly Amtrak accidents in the past week.
White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah said the nomination of Ronald Batory as head of the Federal Railroad Administration has been held up by Senate Democrats for more than eight months.
Noting that the Department of Transportation is investigating the causes of fatal train crashes in South Carolina and in central Virginia, Mr. Shah said “unfortunately they’ll be doing it without an administrator in place at the federal railroad administration because Senate Democrats led by Chuck Schumer have been holding up the nomination of Ron Battery, a highly qualified rail safety expert.”
He said federal investigators must “determine what went so horribly wrong and they’ll determine what needs to be done so it doesn’t happen again.”
An Amtrak passenger train was accidentally diverted to a side track and crashed into an unmanned freight train in South Carolina, killing two Amtrak employees and injuring 116 people early Sunday, federal officials said.
Last week, an Amtrak train carrying Republican lawmakers to a retreat hit a trash truck on the tracks near Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one man on the truck and seriously injuring another.
The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved Mr. Batory’s nomination last year, but it has since been held up in a dispute over rebuilding a passenger rail line between New York City and New Jersey.