The House last night passed the Harley O. Staggers Rail Act of 1980. I want to congratulate Congressman James Florio, Edward Madigan, Harley Staggers, James Broyhill, and Nick Rahall for their outstanding leadership on behalf of this bill.
The last several decades have seen a decline in the rail freight industry in this country. The average rate of return for the railroad industry as a whole has been far lower than for comparable industries. Equipment and service have continued to deteriorate.
A primary reason for this state of affairs has been overregulation by the Interstate Commerce Commission. The legislation passed by the House last night addresses this problem. By eliminating needless, burdensome rules, it will restore the industry's financial health. At the same time, the Staggers-Rahall compromise, which was incorporated into the bill, provides appropriate additional protection for "captive shippers"—those who have no choice but to use the services of a particular railroad. Thus, this compromise has had strong support from shippers who depend upon railroads to deliver their goods.
I hope the conferees will delete the legislative veto provision which I believe is unconstitutional.
I urge the Congress to act promptly to send me this legislation for signature.