Local Leaders, Senate Commerce Chair Cantwell Call for Passage of Railway Safety Act 

May 19, 2023 - (2 min read)

NLC members held a press conference on Capitol Hill urging Congress to pass bipartisan safety legislation to keep rail moving safely through cities, towns and villages. 

WASHINGTON, DC – On Wednesday, May 17, members of the National League of Cities and U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (WA) held a press conference on Capitol Hill on the need for Congress to act on rail safety. 

Local leaders highlighted their communities’ rail concerns and urged the Senate to pass the bipartisan Railway Safety Act of 2023. You can watch the full press conference below. 

Speakers included:  

  • Deanna Dawson, CEO of the Association of Washington Cities. 
  • Mayor Jeff Silvestrini, Millcreek, Utah; President of the Utah League of Cities and Towns. 
  • Mayor Deborah VanMatre, Gibbon, Nebraska; President of the League of Nebraska Municipalities.  
  • Commissioner William Harris, Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina President of the North Carolina League of Municipalities.  
  • City Manager Pamela Polk Collinsville, Oklahoma; President of the Oklahoma Municipal League. 
  • Village Administrator Maureen Murphy, Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin; President of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities. 
  • Irma Esparza Diggs, National League of Cities Senior Executive and Director of Federal Advocacy.  

Around 140,000 miles of track in the U.S. cross directly through many of the nation’s 19,000 cities, towns and villages. The unfortunate derailment and environmental contamination in East Palestine is not unprecedented, with more than 1,000 trains derailing last year in multiple states. More than 500 cities, towns and villages signed letters urging Congress to act on rail safety.  

“The bipartisan Railway Safety Act is trying to prevent disasters like East Palestine from happening in any other town in America again,” said Senator Marie Cantwell (WA), Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. “We took the lessons of East Palestine and turned them into legislation.” 

The bipartisan Railway Safety Act passed the Senate Commerce Committee last week. The legislation must now pass the full Senate. A summary of its key provisions can be found in the Bipartisan Railway Safety Legislation Heads to Commerce Committee Vote press release.


The National League of Cities (NLC) is the voice of America’s cities, towns and villages, representing more than 200 million people across the country. NLC works to strengthen local leadership, influence federal policy and drive innovative solutions. Stay connected with NLC on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.