Office of Rep. Marilyn Strickland press release.
Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (WA-10), Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, questioned witnesses at a hearing on discrimination in federal passenger rail contracting. Strickland’s questions reinforced the need for equity and focused on witnesses’ experiences with racial and gender discrimination, and incidents of intimidation by business owners in the rail contracting space.
Congresswoman Strickland questions witnesses at a hearing on discrimination in federal passenger rail contracting. Watch her remarks here.
“I am proud to co-lead efforts with Chairman Payne to expedite the implementation of a disparity study through the Federal Railroad Administration. There is ample evidence of racial and gender discrimination in the rail industry — through the stories and experiences spoken of today, and through the number of other minority business owners who have been denied contracts, opportunities, and fair consideration,” said Congresswoman Strickland. “Despite efforts to address this discrimination, clearly more needs to be done and hearing about this discrimination directly from business owners in this forum is a key step.”
Upon being asked by Strickland about the toll it takes on a contractor or business owner to respond to this discrimination, witness Ken Canty, President and CEO of Janus Materials, replied, “We’re all people and the toll it takes on a person is indescribable. It’s indescribable. It’s the worst and I wouldn’t wish this on anybody…The toll it has on your family, the toll it has then on your ability to provide for your family, your ability to provide for your employees – is huge. There is a net ripple effect of bills that literally just can’t get paid.”
The hearing was held in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials. Witnesses included Mr. Ken Canty, President and CEO, Janus Materials; Mr. Melvin Clark, Chairman and CEO, GW Peoples Contracting Company; Ms. Victoria Malaszecki, President and CEO, Envision Consultants; Mr. Francisco Otero, President and CEO, PACO Group; Mr. Gnanadesikan “Ram” Ramanujam, President and CEO, Somat Engineering; and Ms. Evalynn Williams, President, Dikita Engineering.
From the railroads’ Western expansion federal land grants that violated federal treaties with Indian tribes to limiting Black, Asian-Pacific Islanders and Latino American employment opportunities, railroad expansion in the United States has historically depended upon discriminatory practices.
This effort follows up on Strickland’s work in Congress as a strong advocate for equity in American rail infrastructure. In July, Strickland led the Congressional Black Caucus in a call to establish a DBE program within the Department of Transportation (DOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).