In other words, things have changed not one little bit since Amtrak was formed as a centerpiece of Nixon’s corporate welfare. Good outline.
Former House transportation committee Chairman John Mica is putting everything on the table for Amtrak reform. That includes a cup of coffee and a hamburger.
Mica’s long-standing complaints about losses on the railroad’s food service produced a tense exchange between him and Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman during a subcommittee hearing Thursday. And it provided an example of the host of issues Congress must haggle over as transportation leaders work toward passing a new passenger rail bill.
In addition to Mica’s objections to the cost of a cup of joe and his push for private-sector competition, the list of contentious issues includes stemming losses on coast-to-coast routes, getting states to share Amtrak’s cost burden and deciding the future of high-speed rail. But even with that litany of controversies underway, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and railroads subcommittee Chairman Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) exude nothing but confidence that they can get a bill done by the end of September.
Denham told POLITICO after the hearing that he wasn’t dissuaded by some of his subcommittee members’ entrenched positions — and the work is really just beginning.
“I would say it’s what we expected,” he said.
Boardman said he’s encouraged by Denham and Shuster’s approach. “They’re trying to be thoughtful,” he said.
Here’s a quick glance at the items members are expected to concentrate on: