Wednesday, February 4, 2009

ACTION ALERT: Oppose Bond Amendments Raiding Rail $$ From Stimulus Package

Two amendments to the economic stimulus plan being considered by the U.S. Senate offered by Sen. Kit Bond, R-MO, would divert $7.5 billion in funding for rail projects, including high-speed rail, to highway construction. Transportation for America has issued a call to action for rail advocates to write their senators and ask them to oppose the Bond amendments.


  1. From The New York Times (to be printed tomorrow):

    Brief passage:
    WASHINGTON — Anxious over the ballooning size of the proposed economic stimulus package, now at more than $900 billion, lawmakers in both parties are working on a last-minute plan to strip $200 billion from the bill.

    The effort is being led by two centrist senators — Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska, and Susan Collins, Republican of Maine.

    Among the initiatives that could be cut are $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, $14 million for cyber security research by the Homeland Security Department, $1 billion for the National Science Foundation, $400 million for research and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, $850 million for Amtrak and $400 million for climate change research. But so far, none of the suggestions come close to being enough to shrink the package on the scale proposed.
    It appears that Amtrak will have to wait for the "spending bills' to be enacted and the enhanced guidelines authorized by PRIIA '08.

    This Stimulus legislation is intended to identify projects that would create jobs - quickly AND visibly. Highway construction projects are visible, especially when you are navigating a construction zone - with an 18 wheeler behind you "not exactly' happy with any adherence on your part to the reduced speed limits - $375 minimum fine, speed photo enforced, hit a worker 14 years in jail...etc notwithstanding. While I hold that there are numerous "shovel ready' projects about Amtrak's own properties that could be considered "stimulus', that the President's own party seems to have porked up the Bill with funding for National Endowment for the Arts as well as in all likelihood studies on sex lives of the aardvark is jeopardizing the entire intent of such and could well result in a Senate filibuster unless the President gets some moderate Republicans on board. "Arts and aardvarks" get funded by means of Spending Bills and not economic stimulus. President Obama is trying to reach out, but he knows that compromises must be made - and this Times article is indicative of those that will have to be made.

    While I still hold that "there will be something' for passenger rail infrastructure within the enacted legislation, new Amtrak train service to Jerkwater Junction, as well as new equipment for such, will have to wait.

  2. Latest Times story says full Senate will vote on the stimulus bill at a level around $900 billion. It says nothing about stripping out Amtrak money.

    “They cannot hold the president of the United States hostage,” Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic majority leader, said of Senate Republicans. “If they think they’re going to rewrite this bill and Barack Obama is going to walk away from what he is trying to do for the American people, they’ve got another thought coming.”

    Looks like we'll see if Harry Reid can finally deliver