Amtrak News

Amtrak News Updates from Amtrak Conductor Dave Bowe.

Date: Tue, 22 Jul 1997 23:16:06 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: OH YES !!

  oh yes !
Tuesday evening/July 22/   It has been reported  tonight that the Senate
Appropriations Committee has approved an amendment that would restore $61
million to the Amtrak budget. The amendment, offered by Senator Lautenberg
(D-NJ), will bring Amtrak funding for Operations to the same level requested
by the Clinton Administration.  This is still $42 million below what Amtrak
requested.  The additional funding  ($61 million)is for mandatory Railroad
Retirement and Unemployment payments that would have to be made even if
Amtrak didn't exist.

Today's measure passed by a voice vote despite statements by the Committee
Chair Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) that his committee had already provided a
"generous funding level for Amtrak."  While not attempting to block the
amendment, Shelby disputed the need for the additional $61 million and
admitted that he is "not a big friend of Amtrak."  Senator Faircloth (R-NC)
suggested that the government just buy airline tickets for all the people who
ride Amtrak!

Senators Hutchison (R-TX), Domenici (R-NM) and Dorgan (D-ND) all spoke up in
favor of the Lautenberg amendment while indicating that their support would
be tied to Amtrak "reforms."  Domenici noted that labor rules are "crippling"
the organization.

Senator Hutchison took the opportunity to push S.738, the Amtrak Reform And
Accountability Act of 1997 that she has sponsored.

MORE ON S.738: It now has six cosponsors.  

They are:
Sen. Roth (R-DE)
Sen. Snow (R-ME)
Sen. Roberts (R-KN)
Sen. Hutchison (R-TX)
Sen. Chafee (R-RI)
Sen. DeWine (R-OH)

This legislation would repeal two laws. One is the 6-year termination
provision for anyone who is employed at Amtrak, if a line is shut down. The
other is the current prohibition on contracting out. The bill would also
provide for liability reform with caps on punitive damages for two times
compensatory damages or $250,000, whichever is greater.  For the full text of
this bill go to:

For additional info see:

  --Do not
type in the brackets.

This bill has been reported out of the Commerce Committee and is pending
before the Senate body.

In the last session of Congress the House passed an Amtrak reauthorization
bill but the Senate did not.  The House bill, offered by Representative Bud
Shuster (R-PA) in the last session, enjoyed a considerable degree of labor
support. Shuster has indicated that he would reintroduce that same bill in
the House this session.

Many thanks to Craig O'Connell (Friends of Amtrak) for his hard work.

Dave Bowe 
Amtrak Conductor

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