Mica backs off Amtrak privatization plan

House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) is no longer pushing to privatize Amtrak rail service, his office confirmed to The Hill Tuesday.

A spokesman for Mica told The Hill Tuesday that Mica put the Amtrak privatization proposal forward as a "starting part" in negotiations over high-speed funding, but was "always willing to receive input" on other ideas on how to best to increase the speed of trails between Washington, D.C., and Boston. 

"He is willing to sit down with Amtrak and discuss ways to bring high-speed rail to the Northeast Corridor," Mica's spokesman said in an interview. "His interest always has been and remains in bringing high-speed rail to the corridor." 

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Earlier on Tuesday, Mica said in a speech to the U.S. High Speed Rail Association in New York that there was too much opposition to the proposal, which would have transferred Amtrak assets in the Northeast Corridor of the country to a new entity within the Department of Transportation.

Mica said the plan did not have much support outside his transportation committee, according to a report by The Associated Press.

"I'm willing to compromise," the AP reported Mica said his remarks. "I could probably pass just about anything in committee, but I want to make something happen."

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Amtrak is currently a government-owned corporation that receives subsidies from the federal government for service.

But under the House Republican proposal, a newly created Northeast Corridor Executive Committee would have overseen the bidding process for private companies to compete for rail projects in the region.

Democrats on Mica's transportation committee vocally opposed the Amtrak privatization plan, calling it unconstitutional and accusing Mica of wanting to "auction off" the national passenger rail service.