Senators introduce railroad antitrust bill

WASHINGTON Thu Mar 21, 2013 4:12pm EDT

Railroad cars are seen in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania April 8, 2011. The city is a part of America's Midwestern ''Rust Belt'', the heartland of the country and home to big unionized manufacturers like the auto and steel industries. Picture taken April 8. REUTERS/Eric Thayer

Railroad cars are seen in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania April 8, 2011. The city is a part of America's Midwestern ''Rust Belt'', the heartland of the country and home to big unionized manufacturers like the auto and steel industries. Picture taken April 8.

Credit: Reuters/Eric Thayer

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two leading senators on Thursday introduced legislation to strip railroads of their exemption from antitrust laws, arguing that the policy has led to higher costs for agricultural producers and other businesses.

Similar bills have been introduced numerous times in the past decade but failed to become law.

"This legislation makes commonsense reforms that will require the railroad industry play by the same antitrust rules as other industries and will help keep costs down for businesses, farmers and consumers," said Senator Amy Klobuchar, the new chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee and a Minnesota Democrat, in a statement.

She introduced the bill along with David Vitter, a Republican from Louisiana.

Railroads say the exemptions are necessary for their survival but businesses which rely on rail shipping, especially power companies which use coal, say railroads have sharply raised rates.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz; editing by Andrew Hay)

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