Annual Battle for Amtrak Funding Under Way

Annual Battle for Amtrak Funding Under Way

February 18, 2004
As part of the TEA-21 reauthorization bill (the Highway Bill) the Senate has passed an Amtrak appropriation of $2 billion per year for six years without mandating reforms. This is far in excess of the $900 million for FY 2005 that the Bush Administration has proposed in its budget.

President Bush has indicated that he will veto the Highway Bill if it contains any funding for Amtrak. He wants Amtrak to be dealt with by itself. Of course he is also proposing changes that would have the effect of dismantling Amtrak.

It is unclear how the House will deal with the question of Amtrak funding. However, Congressman Ernest J. Istook, Jr., (R-OK) Chairman Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury and Independent Agencies Appropriations, has sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to the other members of the House threatening to cut local priorities for their districts if they support Amtrak funding higher than the $900 million proposed by President Bush.

The $900 million level currently proposed by the House Appropriations Committee and the Bush Administration would in effect shutdown America’s national passenger rail service. Amtrak President Gunn has once again stated that this $900 million appropriation would make Amtrak insolvent in a matter of months.

If Amtrak becomes insolvent, not only will thousands of commuters be stranded, but also additionally, thousands of workers including TCU members would be out of a job. An Amtrak shutdown would also have a disastrous effect on our Railroad Retirement System. The Railroad Retirement Board has stated that the financial loss of 23,000 Amtrak employees would bankrupt the system. We cannot allow this to happen!

We will be calling on you for your support as this effort for Amtrak funding continues. Be sure to check this web site often to keep current on this fight. Your help will be vital.

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