Thune Applauds House Passage of Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization

Bill Will Now Be Sent to the President

December 10, 2015

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, applauded the House of Representatives’ approval by voice vote of S. 808, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) Reauthorization Act of 2015. Thune and Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), the ranking member of the Commerce Committee, introduced the bill, which the Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent on June 19, 2015.
“Enacting this legislation will make the Surface Transportation Board more accountable and effective in addressing rail service and other disputes,” said Thune. “Heading off problems between rail customers and carriers whenever possible, and quickly resolving them when they do occur, is at the heart of this effort to make the STB work better.”

Highlights of S. 808:

•    Improves the STB’s current dispute resolution process by setting timelines for rate reviews and expanding voluntary arbitration procedures to address both rate and service disputes;
•    Ensures the STB has the authority to proactively resolve problems before they escalate into larger disputes by providing the STB with the ability to initiate investigations on matters other than rate cases; and
•    Improves the STB’s structure and decision-making processes by expanding the board membership from three to five and, with proper disclosure, allowing board members to talk with one another.

The Senate Commerce Committee approved the bill by voice vote on March 25, 2015.

The STB is the federal regulatory body responsible for economic oversight of the nation's freight rail system. Run by a three-member bipartisan board, the STB has regulatory jurisdiction over railroad rates, mergers, line acquisitions, new rail-line construction, line abandonment, and other rail issues. The STB was created by Congress in 1996 as the successor to the Interstate Commerce Commission. Since that time, the STB has not been reauthorized or substantively reformed.

Click here for a copy of S. 808 and here to see what stakeholders are saying about the bill.