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Merely hours after the deadly crash in Philadelphia, the House passes a bill cutting Amtrak funding.
The House of Representatives approved a measure on Wednesday that cuts funding for mass-transit company Amtrak, less than a day after a train derailment left at least seven people dead, hundreds injured, and many still missing. According to CNN, The Republican-led House Appropriations Committee voted 30-21 to reduce grants to Amtrak by $252 million, which is about 15% less than what the company got before. The cut won’t impact safety and operations, but would hurt the company’s capital. The measure still needs to pass through the full House and Senate. Democrats fought to increase the funding, citing yesterday’s accident to be one of the biggest reasons that there needs to be more employees of the company and better training for disaster management.
“Don’t use this tragedy in that way. It was beneath you,” Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, said to Democrats.
Still, the accident shows the United States just how much work has to be done on our crumbling infrastructure. The Northeast Corridor is used by millions of Americans each and every day to travel anywhere between Boston and Washington DC, making it one of the busiest passages in our country. Many politicians and their teams will use the passage as an efficient route from Washington to New York City.
In fact, the train that derailed in Philadelphia was en route to the Big Apple from Washington.
In another House transportation committee hearing that was also held yesterday, Democrats like Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon complained about spending cuts, saying Republicans should be “cognizant of the real world out there, of what happened last night, of what the capital needs of Amtrak are, and will not engage in short-sighted budget cutting.”
Republicans agreed that there needs to be change, and did talk about the accident: “It’s critical we find out exactly what happened out there and make sure we take the appropriate response to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Florida.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday said that there should be agreement across the aisles about reforming our infrastructure:
“There is clearly more that can be done when we’re talking about a railway infrastructure that is decades-old,” Earnest said. “If there’s an opportunity for us to make further investments in our infrastructure that would better safeguard the traveling public, then those are investments that we should make.”
Vice President Joe Biden, who has always been an Amtrak supporter, issued a statement saying that “the victims could have been any one of our parents, children, or someone from one of our communities. Amtrak is like a second family to me as it is for so many other passengers.”
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