The U.S. House of Representatives voted late Thursday July 29 to fund Amtrak in Fiscal Year 2011 to the tune of $1.788 billion.
This important vote followed rejection of several right wing Republican amendments that would have condemned Amtrak to oblivion.
The leader of the Republican anti-Amtrak onslaught was Tea Party Caucus leader and darling of the right wing Michele Bachmann from Minnesota. She championed amendments that would have eliminated the bill’s entire $1.2 million for Amtrak capital investment and debt service, as well as the entire $563 million operating grant.
The amendment was defeated by the full House, but 129 Republicans went on record supporting Amtrak’s elimination by voting for the amendment.
In a welcome departure from past Amtrak administrations that stayed out of these kinds of congressional fights, Amtrak President Joe Boardman issued a strong statement to every member of Congress outlining the vital role Amtrak plays in our national transportation system. Boardman laid out how Bachman’s amendment would mean the immediate end of Amtrak.
TCU and other rail labor unions lobbied tirelessly to defeat this amendment, as well as a host of other anti-Amtrak amendments submitted by Republican lawmakers. Republican Pete Sessions of Texas pushed an unsuccessful move to gut Amtrak long distance service, while Mac Thornberry, also of Texas, took dead aim at our on-board service members by proposing the elimination of sleeper service.
“These votes are a chilling indication of what Amtrak workers would face if Republicans gain control of the House in November,” declared Amtrak President Bob Scardelletti. “Anti-Amtrak ideologues would be poised to gain chairmanships of key Amtrak committees.”
“I urge all railroad workers to support our Amtrak brothers and sisters this November by voting for pro-Amtrak candidates,” continued Scardelletti. “Your vote counts, and 20,000 Amtrak jobs may depend on it.”
Click here to read the letter from Amtrak President Joe Boardman to Congress.