House could cut rail stimulus funds

The House expects to soon take up legislation that would eliminate stimulus funds for high-speed rail that have yet to be awarded. 

The provision, which is included in the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill, would eliminate $2.3 billion in stimulus dollars, including $1.6 billion that was just announced in May. 

Much of the leftover money was redirected to 15 states after Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) turned down $2.4 billion for a line connecting Tampa to Orlando. 

The economic stimulus bill cost an estimated $787 billion when it was approved in 2009.

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The Congressional Bicameral High-Speed & Intercity Passenger Rail Caucus says the funds that would be eliminated would affect rail projects in 168 districts, 92 of which are held by Democrats and 76 that are in the hands of Republicans.

"A rescission will eliminate thousands of jobs, halt a large number of rail projects across the country and hurt local and state economies," Victoria Dillion, press secretary to rail caucus member Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) told The Hill Monday afternoon. "The High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail program is critical to our country’s competiveness by putting Americans back to work, revitalizing our construction and manufacturing sectors, boosting the domestic economy, and ending U.S. dependence on foreign oil."

Republicans have argued that the high-speed railways would not generate enough ridership to warrant the expense of building them.

The House adjourned Monday evening before getting to the rail amendment. The chamber is expected to resume debate on the energy bill Tuesday.

This post as updated July 12 at 10:02 a.m.