Amtrak News Updates from Amtrak Conductor Dave Bowe.
Date: Mon, 28 Jul 1997 07:44:36 -0400 (EDT) From: UTU1462@aol.com Subject: Washington Update 7/25 Part 2 Washington Update for Friday July 25th, Part 2 The House of Representatives has passed a $42 billion transportation bill on July 24th that would severely cut Amtrak's operations budget. The Amtrak funding level was the only issue in dispute as lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the package by a vote of 424 - 5. Ranking Democrat Martin Sabo (MN) of the Transportation Committee said that the Amtrak appropriation is "so low that it brings into question whether Amtrak will survive the year." In contrast Republican subcommittee chairman Frank Wolf (VA), architect of last year's disastrous 28% House cut, said that "funding alone is not the panacea for Amtrak's financial problems." The cuts enacted in the last session led to Amtrak's decision to terminate the Desert Wind and the Pioneer. Lawmakers have warned that the House bill could force Amtrak into bankruptcy. The House bill significantly boosts funding for aviation and highway safety programs, providing $12.5 billion in new spending and allowing the spending of $30 billion from federal transportation trust funds. The funding measure gives $3.9 billion to the Coast Guard, $9 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration and $21.5 billion for road and highway improvements. The FAA budget includes funding for 500 new air traffic controllers and 326 safety certification employees. Another $333 million was allocated for highway safety and air bag safety initiatives. Those who argue that Amtrak is the only subsidized form of transportation need to take a long hard look at where their taxpayer dollars are really going. The total Amtrak budget was set at $793 million. Capital funding for Amtrak is up but the operations side is the lowest in 20 years and is $61 million less than the administration wanted. Senate/House conferees must work out the differences before a final transportation bill is sent to the President for his signature. Regards, Dave Bowe, Boston