A House committee charged with funding Amtrak shot down a Democratic amendment to increase funding for rail transportation Wednesday morning, in the wake of a devastating commuter train crash the night before. The committee instead pledged to readdress the issue once the cause of the crash identified by investigators. The Republican proposal cuts $260 million from last year’s level, allocating a total of $1.1 billion for Amtrak.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., said it would be “a while before we get answers on the why and how this happened" from the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation. Rep. Mario Diaz Balart (R-Fla.) said Congress will consider “what they could do to prevent this from ever happening again" after the NTSB issues a report.
The Democratic amendment would have increased the amount to $1.4 billion – the same funding level as they received last year. Democrats on the committee slammed the decision to push forward without taking the crash into account.
“We know we will wait for the NTSB report, but it’s very important, but it’s very clear that cutting the funding drastically does not help improve services at Amtrak,” Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) added.
Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) was not having it and accused Democrats of using the tragedy for political purposes.
“When you have no idea, no idea what caused this accident,” he said. “Don’t use this tragedy in that way. It was beneath you.”