House and Senate Lawmakers Say “This is a necessary investment that will create jobs and sustain America’s growth at a critical time.”
WASHINGTON – Leaders of the Bicameral High-Speed & Intercity Passenger Rail Caucus today joined the chorus of voices expressing outrage over spending cuts to high-speed rail arguing that it is a necessary staple of economic growth.
This week the House Appropriations Subcommittee responsible for funding transportation programs announced that, despite the opportunity to create jobs and rebuild our infrastructure, would eliminate all funding for high-speed rail programs, all funding to the TIGER grant program which competitively awards funds to invest in road, rail, transit and port projects and would make drastic cuts to Amtrak’s passenger rail program in FY2012.
Today Caucus Co-Chairs Louise Slaughter (NY-28) Sens. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Reps. Corrine Brown (FL-3), Zoe Lofgren (CA-16), John Olver (MA-1), David Price (NC-4), Tim Walz (MN-1) and Vice-Chairs Reps. John Larson (CT-1) and Earl Blumenauer (OR-3) released the following statement:
“Even as America is engaged in an intense conversation about how to create jobs, the Subcommittee’s bill would make the most drastic funding cuts yet to vital high-speed and passenger rail programs across the country. If we’re serious about creating jobs, we should be expanding these infrastructure programs, not eliminating them. This is a necessary investment that will create jobs and sustain America’s growth at a critical time.
“High-speed rail is beneficial to our country’s economic prosperity and competitiveness, environmental sustainability and national security and deserve our support. In short, it is long-past time for America to make this investment.”
The FY 2012 Transportation-HUD House Appropriations Subcommittee budget proposal prohibits the use of federal funds provided to Amtrak to fund any operating costs of state-supported trains.
Rep. David Price proposed an amendment to restore $1 billion to the Capital Assistance for High-Speed Rail Corridors and Intercity Passenger Rail Service, but the amendment was defeated on a party-line vote. The Subcommittee also rejected an amendment from Rep. Steve LaTourette to place $1 million into the rail program.
If enacted by the full Congress, it will eliminate nearly 150 weekday state-supported trains and negatively impact the more than nine million passengers who ride those trains each year and the communities they live in.
The 15 states which provide state-supported Amtrak service are: California, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
The Bi-Cameral High-Speed & Intercity Passenger Rail Caucus was formed on March 15 as a coalition to support federal legislative and funding policies to ensure the long-term viability of the high-speed and intercity passenger rail program.
The caucus is leading a chorus of voices all of whom agree that investing in high-speed rail is necessary for much needed economic growth including:
From American Public Transportation Association
“Eliminating all FY 2012 dollars for the high-speed rail program is simply short-sighted because rail investment is a catalyst to create jobs and provide the foundation for our nation’s growing economy,” said American Public Transportation Association President William Millar. “This is particularly troublesome when 32 states and the District of Columbia are advancing projects. I urge Congress to invest in high-speed rail in FY 2012 and future budgets.”
From America 2050
"The THUD markup by the Subcommittee created deep cuts for programs to expand rail infrastructure in the United States. These cuts are completely out of touch with continued and growing support for passenger rail in the United States, “said Petra Todorovich, Director of America 2050 at Regional Plan Association. “Supporters know what the critics ignore at their peril - that high-speed rail creates jobs, boosts economies, promotes commercial investment around stations, and that economists agree that building infrastructure is key to our economic recovery. At a time when our nation desperately needs the jobs that high-speed rail will create, we should be expanding, not cutting funding for this program."