House committee cuts Amtrak funding

Less than two days after a fatal Amtrak crash in Pennsylvania where a train derailed and killed eight, the Republican lead House Appropriations Committee voted 30-21 to cut Amtrak’s budget by 15 per-cent.

Democrats on the committee pointed to the recent crash as just cause to raise Amtrak’s budget by $1 billion, but Republicans shot them down on increasing spending without offsets.

“Don’t use this tragedy in that way. It was beneath you,” said Representative Mike Simpson (R-Idaho).

The crash has once again put America’s aging infrastructure under the microscope. It has raised the question whether the lack of funding puts lives at risk and if the time has come to invest tax-dollars in much needed replacement, maintenance and repairs.

“There is clearly more that can be done when we’re talking about a railway infrastructure that is decades-old,” said White House Press Secretary John Earnest. “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.”

However, don’t ask John Boehner about a lack of funding. He might lose it on you.

“Are you really going to ask such a stupid question?” Boehner said Thursday, cutting off a reporter as she asked about criticism that the railway isn’t adequately funded.

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 “Listen, you know, they started this yesterday, it’s all about funding, it’s all about funding. Well, obviously it’s not about funding,” Boehner added. “The train was going twice the speed limit. Adequate funds are there, no money’s been cut from rail safety and the House passed a bill earlier this spring to reauthorize Amtrak, and authorize a lot of these programs. And it’s hard for me to imagine that people take the bait on some of the nonsense that gets spewed around here.”

Train 188 from Washington D.C. to New York derailed Tuesday night after taking a turn at over 100 miles per hour, more than twice the speed limit.

Investigators have yet to interview the train driver.

A lawyer for the train’s driver has said that he has no memory of the crash.

 

[CNN] [The Guardian] [Politico] [Photo courtesy CNN]

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