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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

House bill would slash Amtrak funding by 64%


The White House on Monday issued a veto threat for House Republicans' appropriations bill H.R. 4820, which calls for dramatic cuts in funding for Amtrak, rail safety, infrastructure and high-speed rail.

The bill sets appropriations for the U.S. Department of Transportation and Department of Housing and Urban Development for fiscal-year 2024, ending Sept. 30. If passed, it would cut Amtrak funding by 64% below the 2023 enacted level. The cuts would reduce or potentially eliminate certain Amtrak long-distance and state-supported services, and risk operations and critical capital expenses on the Northeast Corridor, according to an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) statement issued Monday.

Also, according to OMB, the bill:
• provides only $258 million for Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement grants, which is 54% below 2023 enacted levels. Such a move would "hamper the ability of states and localities to carry out important safety and infrastructure upgrades to the nation’s rail system," OMB stated;
• prohibits the USDOT from using federal funding for California's high-speed rail project; and
• fails to provide funding for the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity or National Infrastructure Project Assistance competitive grant programs, which support surface-transportation projects designed to strengthen supply chains and improve safety.

If passed, the legislation would violate a spending agreement worked out by President Joe Biden and former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) this summer, OMB officials noted. That agreement, which passed with bipartisan support, set spending levels for fiscal years 2024 and 2025. It held spending for non-defense programs at roughly flat with FY2023 levels, "a compromise that protected vital programs Americans rely on from draconian cuts House Republicans proposed," the OMB stated.

That spending agreement also protected legislative accomplishments from the past two years, including the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.


Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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