Company News • 23.10.2015
NRF applauds House Committee action on long-term transportation bill
Infrastructure Investment Bill also includes key provision to avoid looming railroad shutdown
The National Retail Federation applauded the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for moving forward with a long-term transportation bill that is critically important to America’s retailers.
“Retailers are among the nation’s largest shippers, moving hundreds of billions of dollars worth of merchandise through the nation’s ports and on railroads and highways each year,” said Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French. “Infrastructure investments must keep up with the expected future demand for freight movement. The condition of the transportation system and its ability to handle cargo quickly and efficiently are vital to retailers’ businesses, and we urge Congress to swiftly pass a long-term reauthorization bill.”
NRF worked to include a strong focus on national freight policy in The Surface Transportation and Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 3763), as well as a provision that would avert a potentially catastrophic shut down of the American rail network by the end of year by giving railroads an additional three years to implement Positive Train Control (PTC) technology. While NRF supports implementation of this complex technology, according to the Federal Railroad Administration, no Class 1 railroads will be in full compliance by the December 31, 2015, deadline that had previously been set by Congress.
“Freight rail is an integral part of a retailers’ business,” continued French. “Retailers are now in the final phases of their peak shipping season for holiday merchandise. Any shutdown or slowdown of the freight rail system will have wide-ranging impacts on retailers and other freight rail customers. We urge Congress to move quickly to extend the PTC deadline and avoid a preventable economic disaster.”
NRF has been a vocal proponent for adapting the PTC implementation schedule to a more workable timetable that averts a nationwide rail service shutdown. In a letter to the House transportation committee leadership in early October, NRF warned, “Many of the railroads have already alerted their retail customers that the operational impacts may start happening well in advance of the December 31 PTC deadline.” The retail trade association further advocated, “Congress needs to act immediately to ensure rail service, especially freight rail, continues without disruption.”
The Senate has already passed a transportation reauthorization bill (the “DRIVE Act”) with an extension of the PTC deadline. House passage of today’s committee-endorsed bill would clear the way for a House-Senate conference to resolve any outstanding differences and final Congressional action as early as November. In the meantime, Congress will need to pass yet another short-term transportation measure since current funding will expire October 29.
NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. NRF’s This is Retail campaign highlights the industry’s opportunities for life-long careers, how retailers strengthen communities, and the critical role that retail plays in driving innovation.