By Keith Laing
The railroads subcommittee was meeting Friday to consider ways to increase private investment in railways across the country. But some governors, like Rick Scott (R) in Florida, have said no to high-speed rail even in cases where the federal government has offered to pick up most of the tab.
Another member of the committee from Florida, Rep. Corrine Brown (D), disagreed with Mica's assessment that Obama was to blame for the stalled momentum for high-speed rail in the country. The problem, Brown said, was recalcitrant governors like Scott.
"I hope you're not blaming the administration for the ill-fated governor who won 48 percent of the vote," she said. "It's not a lack of credibility. It's a lack of leadership with one person in the state of Florida."
At the start of Friday's meeting, Mica indicated he was still committed to increasing passenger rail in the U.S despite the recent setbacks — he just does not want the federal government to be the one paying for it, he said.
"Don't tell me you cannot make money moving passengers by rail," he said. "I know we can attract private-sector capital if they have the opportunity to not only help develop, help construct, but help operate because ... return on investment is a great motivator."
Mica acknowledged, however, that it could be difficult to forge political consensus on an issue that has emerged as a favorite target of the conservative Tea Party movement.
"We will drag Congress and whoever else kicking and screaming into the 21st century of passenger rail with private investment," he said.
For her part, Brown continued lamenting Scott's rejection of $2.4 billion that would have paid 90 percent of the construction cost of a long-proposed railway connecting Tampa and Orlando.
"When people say we need another lane on I-4, we've got 8," she said. "One more won't help us."