January 10, 2003
Senator Hollings Re-introduces the ?National Defense Rail Act?
On January 7, 2003, Senator Fritz Hollings (D-SC) along with 24 cosponsors re-introduced the National Defense Rail Act ? S. 104 in the 108th Congress. The legislation is similar to S. 1991 which was reported favorably by the Commerce Committee on April 18, 2002, by a vote of 20 to 3.
The bill was immediately referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. This committee is chaired by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) who has not been an enthusiastic supporter of Amtrak in the past, and in fact, had previously introduced legislation to partially privatize Amtrak?s operations.
This bill provides significant long term funding for Amtrak, and therefore, TCU supports this legislation.
· Authorizes $1.3 billion for repairs, maintenance, and growth on the Northeast Corridor.
· Authorizes $580 million annually for Amtrak?s long-distance train service.
· Authorizes $270 million annually for Amtrak?s short-distance and state-supported routes.
· Authorizes $515 million for railroad security needs through the newly created Department of Homeland Security.
Presently, no date has been scheduled for the mark-up of this bill.
We have been advised that the Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to report out the transportation appropriations bill at any time. Amtrak appropriations for FY2003 are included in this bill.
The information that we have received, is that Amtrak faces a more than $400 million cut below the $1.2 billion it desperately needs to avoid significant cuts in service and jobs.
In our Senate office visits, the committee Democrats indicate significant support for reversing this cut. In addition to what we believe are unified Democrats on the committee, it appears that both Republican Senators Specter and Hutchison want to be helpful. Senator Byrd?s staff is unclear on the strategy ? that is, whether an amendment will be offered in committee or on the Senate floor.
IT IS CRUCIAL THAT EVERY TCU MEMBER, ACTIVE AND RETIRED, CONTACT AS MANY MEMBERS OF THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE AND URGE THEM TO FORCE ACTION TO RESTORE THE CUTS.
PLEASE E-MAIL THEM USING TCU?S WEB SITE — www.TCUnion.org — AND CALL THEM DIRECTLY USING TCU?S TOLL FREE HOTLINE
MAKE THOSE E-MAILS AND CALLS TODAY!
ASK FOR FULL SUPPORT FOR ADEQUATE FUNDING FOR AMTRAK!