Jack Crowe on February 13, 2018

The Senate confirmed the nation’s top railroad safety administrator Tuesday after a number of Amtrak crashes increased pressure on Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who had repeatedly blocked the confirmation in an admitted effort to secure federal funding to revamp a a rail tunnel linking New York and New Jersey.

Ronald Batory, a 40-year railroad industry veteran, was finally confirmed to lead the Federal Railway Administration after initially being voted out of committee without objection in August. Schumer blocked his confirmation at the time, and again in December, in the wake of the tragic Washington State Amtrak derailment that resulted in three dead, 70 injured, and cost more than $40 million in repairs.

Schumer was joined in his opposition by Senate Democrats from New York and New Jersey, who were also invested in securing funding for the railroad tunnel project, commonly referred to as the Gateway Project.

Deputy Secretary of Transportation Jeff Rosen sent a letter to Schumer Jan. 31 urging him to confirm Batory after a train carrying a group of senators crashed into a garbage truck in Virginia, killing the driver. Rosen told The Daily Caller News Foundation that Schumer’s behavior was unacceptable considering the scourge of recent rail accidents.

“At that time, Sen. Thune, who chairs the Commerce committee, said months have gone by and now were dealing with the aftermath of this tragedy, it’s time to confirm Ron Batory, and he asked for unanimous consent,” Rosen recounted, and congressional records confirm. “Senator Schumer stood up and just said ‘I object’ and then he walked away and didn’t elaborate.”

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