High-speed rail advocates win small funding victory

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"Every dollar we spend on rail produces $3 in economic output,” Durbin continued. “Congress has maintained a commitment to high speed and intercity rail for over a decade. This amendment will continue that commitment and allow more communities in Illinois to benefit from faster, more reliable passenger rail service.”

One of the most vocal rail supporters in Congress, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), agreed

“Rail service is the lifeblood of New Jersey's economy and I will continue fighting to strengthen it for our commuters,” Lautenberg said in a statement. “These high speed rail grants will help the United States create a 21st century transportation system.  We must make smart investments to expand high-speed rail in New Jersey and throughout the country.”
 
Early in his term, President Obama envisioned a effort to build a rail network that would rival the development of the interstate highway system under Republican President Dwight Eisenhower as a way to dig the country out of a deep economic hole.

But modern-day Republicans criticized the proposal from the start, calling the railway proposals a way of money that would not generate enough ridership to cover the expensive of building and maintaining. Three newly-elected Republicans governors in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin made shows of rejecting money from the stimulus earlier this year. 

A lawmaker from a state that has said it would push ahead with high-speed rail, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, also hailed Tuesday's vote.

“California is ready and willing to put high-speed rail funds to work, creating thousands of jobs, modernizing the state’s infrastructure and reducing pollution," she said Tuesday. "I offered this amendment because we can’t turn our backs on a project that will invest in the future and put Californians back to work.”