I have to admit, I didn’t know any of these stunning details when I confronted Pat Toomey last week (although I knew enough of his Club for Growth ways to assume) — but now that I’ve read it, I’m really, really glad I got in his face. As I told him: These are real votes affecting real people and their lives. Via Politico:
For years, Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey has campaigned to delay a multibillion-dollar railroad safety technology, calling it an “exorbitantly expensive unfunded mandate.”
But safety officials say the technology would have prevented last week’s deadly train crash in Philadelphia. And Democrats argue that the railroads were starved of the money necessary to finish it.
Interviewed two days after the crash, Toomey abandoned some of his budget-cutting bombast of years past. He’s dropped his sponsorship of legislation that would postpone the safety system rollout for several more years. And he says the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority that he was trying to protect from unnecessary spending no longer needs a delay.
Asked whether he thinks there should be any further delay in the positive train control system rollout, Toomey replied: “No.”
“SEPTA has been able to catch up to a very large degree. We helped them get a grant so they can do that. So I’m not concerned,” he said in a Thursday interview.
That’s a different argument from the one Toomey had made earlier. Since the Pennsylvania Republican came to the Senate in 2011, he’s argued that money for the crash prevention system could be better spent on things like rehabbing Pennsylvania’s crumbling bridges. Over the years, he’s written letters to regulators complaining about the system’s high costs, sponsored legislation to delay it and testified at hearings that it’s a misplaced priority.
Though he is a top target in 2016, national Democrats were loath to discuss Toomey’s crusade against the safety system. But Danielle Lynch, a spokeswoman for former Rep. Joe Sestak, a Democrat challenging Toomey in next year’s Senate race, said Toomey’s past fight against PTC “tragically shows the sad struggle by those who oppose what government can do for its citizens” and accused him of a flip-flop.
“When tragedy happens, he quickly calls for needed safety measures,” she said.