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Amtrak Funding Restored from $550 Million to $1.2 Billion US House of Representatives Throws its Weight Behind Passenger Rail, Preserves Freedom of Mobility

Posted Nov. 7, 2008 / Posted by: admin

Washington , D.C. – The House of Representatives rejection of the Bush administration’s efforts to kill Amtrak today shows that the American people want to keep passenger rail as a vital component of the country’s transportation system, according to Friends of the Earth, a Washington DC- based environmental group.  The full House voted to fully restore previous cuts to Amtrak’s budget.  Kowtowing to the administration’s agenda the House Appropriations Committee had dramatically cut Amtrak funding by 54 percent earlier this month.  Today’s vote by the full House will allow Amtrak to function in 2006.  The measure was sponsored by Representatives LaTourette (R-OH), Brown (D-FL), Menendez (D-NJ), Oberstar (D-WI) along with several other members of Congress.

“The House of Representatives sent a strong message to all the Amtrak naysayers today,” said Colin Peppard, Transportation Policy Coordinator.  “This vote shows that Congress recognizes the importance of Amtrak to America , and shows a clear commitment to maintain and improve rail service in America .” 

The Bush administration had proposed zeroing out Amtrak funding, and forcing the states to fund Amtrak services.  The House Appropriations committee subsequently offered to fund Amtrak at $550 million, falsely claiming that this reduced funding level would service 4 out of 5 passengers.  In reality, the amount would also put the system into bankruptcy.

“Americans are riding the rails in record numbers, and they clearly support increased investment in Amtrak,” said Peppard. “Investing in Amtrak is good for our economy, national security, and environment.  We now look to the Senate to reaffirm the message that America needs a strong passenger rail system.”

With oil peaking at $60 a barrel and commercial air lines struggling to stay out of bankruptcy, forcing Amtrak out of business would eliminate a significant sector of America ’s transportation system, weakening both our economy and national security, increasing traffic and pollution, and denying Americans a significant transportation choice.

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