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Rail News: Amtrak

House approves $1.2 billion for Amtrak in FY2006


After a House appropriations committee and subcommittee recommended providing $550 million for Amtrak in fiscal-year 2006, the full House yesterday approved a transportation appropriations bill amendment proposed by Reps. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) and James Oberstar (D-Minn.) to provide $1.176 billion for the national passenger railroad. The amount is less than Amtrak’s requested $1.8 billion, but enough to keep the railroad operating.

"This sends a strong message that many in Congress believe we need to maintain a national passenger rail system while we also have the opportunity to debate strategic reform initiatives and improve our nation’s rail passenger service," said Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer David Gunn in a prepared statement.

Administration officials, who previously recommended eliminating Amtrak’s FY2006 funding, weren’t happy with the turn of events.

"The House has chosen to retreat from the work of its appropriations committee, which took on the difficult task of making tough decisions about how to best save Amtrak," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta. "Handing over more than a billion dollars with no reforms attached gives Amtrak a blank check to continue misspending taxpayer money."

The House also voted in favor of dropping the committees’ proposal that would have required Amtrak to spend its federal appropriation only on its most profitable routes, primarily in the Northeast Corridor, as well as some Midwest lines and the California corridor.

The Senate is expected to consider its version of the transportation appropriations bill during the week of July 11.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/30/2005