Bush Budget Gives No Money to Amtrak for Operations
President George Bush, in his fiscal year 2006 budget, has proposed that Amtrak receive no money for intercity passenger trains. This budget, if adopted, would require Amtrak to file for bankruptcy. The Administration Budget under the heading of Reforming Intercity Passenger Rail Service states, “The 2006 Budget proposed $360 million for the Surface Transportation Board to maintain existing commuter services and freight traffic along the Northeast Corridor and elsewhere. Until reforms consistent with the Administration’s proposal are implemented, the budget will not propose funding for intercity passenger rail.”
In a letter to Amtrak employees, Amtrak President David Gunn called the budget request “irresponsible” and a “surprising disappointment.” He continued, “[The budget] isn’t accompanied by any kind of plan for how Amtrak could continue operations. In a word, they have no plan for Amtrak other than bankruptcy.”
Several Senators and Congressmen have reacted negatively to Bush’s proposal. Calling Amtrak very important to the country, Senator Schumer (D-NY) has called for full Amtrak funding. Senator Thomas Carper (D-DE) stated, “This budget proposal is a non-starter in Congress. . . .Unfortunately, this attack on Amtrak shows that the administration has no real plan for reforming the railroad other than a vain attempt to undermine it.” Congressman James Oberstar along with Congresswoman Corrine Brown held a news conference pointing to the unfairness of the Bush Administration proposal.
TCU President Bob Scardelletti reacting to this mean spirited Bush proposal stated, “Once again President Bush has sent a message to American working men and women that he is no friend to them. Not only does this budget proposal put the jobs and livelihoods of 20,000 men and women at risk, but it also jeopardizes the solvency of the Railroad Retirement system.” President Scardelletti continued by saying that TCU will do everything possible to fight this unfair proposal and to secure adequate funding for the continuation of Amtrak and to preserve the 20,000 good paying jobs with benefits.”
TCU’s Legislative Department is already working on this fight. This will be a very demanding battle as the Congress has even more right-wing Republicans following the last election.
We are calling on all TCU members to contact your Congressmen and Senators and demand that they support full funding for Amtrak. There is no time to waste as the fight has begun. Do it today.