By Keith Laing - 11/30/11 07:19 PM EST
Democrats have used Amtrak ridership numbers in the past to defend the agency from Republican criticism. The GOP has repeatedly attacked President Obama's high-speed rail plans, and House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) pushed until recently to privatize Amtrak service in the Northeast, its most profitable area of the country.
Mica has since backed off the proposal, saying it was a "starting point
" in negotiations over high-speed rail funding.