Trains For America

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Congress passes Amtrak reauthorization bill, Bush will actually sign it

It’s funny, after months of languishing in legislative hell, the Amtrak reauthorization bill has blasted its way through Capitol Hill in a matter of weeks. It’s not the nicest thought, but it probably has a lot to do with the LA Metrolink crash and the new safety measures tied into the bill.

Perhaps the extra bit of irony here is that President Bush, an avowed enemy of a reasonable budget for Amtrak, is now planning on signing the bill, according to the New York Times. It must be a sign of the times (no pun intended). With high gas prices and declining automobile usage, the Bush administration is perhaps realizing the virtues of passenger rail in its twilight hours. Or maybe they just don’t want to make the public any more disillusioned with them than they already are. The past eight years were basically treated as a swear word in last night’s Vice Presidential debate (on that note, no mention of Amtrak last night.. oh well).

Unfortunately, Amtrak’s not out of the woods yet (is it ever?). The company and the NARP are going to have to go hunting for where these funds are coming from in Congress. But still, this is significant progress for Amtrak. Let’s hope we don’t lose the momentum with important votes about transit and rail coming up this November (CAHSR by itself is enough to get excited about).

Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Politics, , ,

Amtrak reauthorization bill going into conference committee

Judging by news of congressional appointments, the two different “Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act” versions passed in the Senate and House seem to be in the process of getting reconciled before a conference committee. This is the next step before the legislation goes to President Bush’s desk. Fortunately for America’s railways and rail passengers, the proposal passed both houses of Congress with a veto-proof majority, hopefully negating his stated intention of slowly strangling Amtrak in this critical hour.

You can check out Trains for America’s previous coverage of the bill, known as H.R. 6003 and S. 294 in the respective houses of Congress, read NARP’s letter to the committee members, or peruse general information about the the bill at Open Congress.

Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Politics, , , ,

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