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H.R. 12987, A Bill to amend an Act entitled “An Act to regulate commerce,” January 24, 1906

On January 24, 1906, Representative William P. Hepburn of Iowa introduced his bill to expand the powers of the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). It passed the House without changes, but the Senate-approved version included many amendments. Finding that the amendments didn’t alter the bill’s fundamental provisions, the House approved the Senate version. The Hepburn Act became effective on June 29, 1906.

Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives and Records Administration

H.R. 12987, A Bill to amend an Act entitled “An Act to regulate commerce,” January 24, 1906

Regulating the Railroads

The Hepburn Railway Regulation Act of 1906 was a major legislative achievement of the Progressive Era. With this act, Congress strengthened the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), expanding its authority and empowering it to set railroad rates, institute standardized accounting practices, and require rail companies to file annual reports. These new regulations helped curb abuses that had made the railroads one of the nation’s most powerful industries. Introduced in the House and opposed in the Senate, the legislation passed only after extensive negotiation between the chambers.

[This legislation] will aid toward minifying a number of wrongs; it will give greater contentment to all the people in the belief that they are not being made the puppet and the football of [railroad] carriers.

Representative William P. Hepburn of Iowa, Speech to the U.S. House of Representatives, February 7, 1906