U.S. Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), as well as U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9), took aim at President Donald Trump (R) for rolling back rail safety regulations that would require sleep apnea testing for train conductors and truck drivers.
“Our concern is when we see the president bragging about, during the State of the Union speech, about scrapping rules and regulations? Well, he’s bragging about rolling back railway safety,” Menendez said at a press conference at Hoboken Terminal this afternoon.
“He’s talking about cutting sleep apnea screening, and it’s not just happening to our transit agencies, it’s happening at our agencies chartered with protecting our private financial system and even our infrastructure: there’s a reason we put these rules in place in the first place.”
The presser came just days after the National Transportation Safety Board revealed that undiagnosed sleep apnea led to devastating train accidents in Hoboken in 2016 and then in Brooklyn last year.
Over 100 people were injured and one woman died after an NJ Transit train crashed into the Hoboken Terminal, just a few feet behind where the elected officials spoke at the podium today, back on September 29th, 2016.
In August, Trump administration withdrew funding for mandator sleep apnea testing for train conductors and truck drivers.
On Friday, the Democratic federal legislators on hand announced that they, along with U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8) had sent a letter to Trump urging him to reconsider.
Menendez also called the decision “a matter of life and death” and Booker echoed that sentiment.
“The leadership in Washington is not only rolling back the things that keep us safe, but the evidence is clear that we’re seeing a pattern of pain, of destruction, of injuries and death, as a result of us not doing what we should be doing: to hold folks accountable and keep us safe,” Booker stated.
“Senator Menendez spoke about the 110 people that were injured on a train, right over to my right. The senator and I toured this while the blood was still on the ground … of a beautiful young woman who was killed in an accident here – and now we know, from the [NTSB] report that was just released.”
Pascrell expressed additional frustration with the current predicament.
“Congress mandated that all commuter railroads, and some freight railroads, are required to have risk management plans and submit a fatigue management plan to the Federal Railroad Administration every two years,” explained Pascrell.
“The Obama administration finalized rules to implement aspects of the risk management planned requirement. Your administration, Mr. President, has suspended these rules.”
Other dignitaries in attendance included Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher (the chair of the local Democratic committee), Councilwoman-at-Large Emily Jabbour and Freeholder Anthony Romano (D-5).