Amtrak Final Appropriation BIll


February 14, 2003…On Thursday, February 13, 2003, the House and Senate adopted H. J. Res. 2, the Omnibus Appropriation bill, which has been sent to the President for his signature. The Conferees reached a deal for funding Amtrak in Fiscal 2003. The nation’s rail carrier will receive a total of $1.15 billion dollars; however, the $100 million loan received by Amtrak last year to avoid a system-wide shutdown must still be repaid – effectively reducing the FY03 amount to $1.05 billion for Amtrak’s capital needs. It includes significant reforms to improve Amtrak’s longterm financial condition. The reforms include:

Funding is provided to the Secretary of Transportation, who would make operating and capital grants to Amtrak, instead of providing funds directly to Amtrak. This is intended to enhance the Secretary’s oversight of Amtrak.

A number of financial reporting requirements are included, such as requiring Amtrak to develop capital and operating plans that must be provided to Congress and the Secretary of Transportation and be used as the base for expenditures in 2003. Funding may not be spent on projects not included in the business plan.

The Secretary shall approve funding for the operating losses on long distance trains after receiving and reviewing a grant request for each specific long distance train route. These decisions will be made after detailed financial information and revenue projections are provided. The Secretary shall ensure that sufficient funds are set aside for the contractual obligations of Amtrak for commuter and intercity operations. This language is necessary in case Amtrak ceases service so that commuters can continue to operate.

I would like to thank you for all your efforts in making phone calls and sending e-mails to Congress requesting the full funding amount of $1.2 billion for Amtrak. It is with your help and persistence that we received the $1.05 billion.

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