Lawmaker gets into it
with railroad regulator
Sparks flew briefly at a House of Representatives hearing Wednesday, the first in Congress to examine a series of recent rail accidents.
It began with some unfinished business between Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, who chairs the rail subcommittee, and Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo.
Denham scolded Szabo for not showing up at a hearing last month on California’s beleaguered high-speed rail program.
Denham said he’d delayed the high-speed rail hearing by six weeks to accommodate Szabo’s schedule, which included his agency’s investigation of a rail crash in New York.
Denham blamed Szabo for delaying the hearing on rail safety.
“You’ve held up our committee based on your schedule,” Denham said.
Szabo responded that he’d agreed to testify on Jan. 14, but the hearing was changed to Jan. 15.
“I let you know I would not be available,” he said.
Denham said he only found out through a press release.
“You’ve got my cellphone,” he said.
“I don’t,” Szabo replied, “but I’d be happy to take it from you.”
“We’re distracted all the time. If our distractions cause us to drive erratically, we should be arrested for driving erratically.”