Stakeholder group urges Senate panel to fund Amtrak, Northeast Corridor

Stakeholder group urges Senate panel to fund Amtrak, Northeast Corridor
© Greg Nash

A group of stakeholders is pressing the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its ranking member to increase funding for the Northeast Corridor in the upcoming spending bill.

“We urge your Committee to match the level of investment proposed by the House Appropriations Committee,” Michael Friedberg, the executive director of the Coalition for the Northeast Corridor, wrote in a letter provided exclusively to The Hill.

“This kind of increase in federal investment would represent an important step forward in repairing and modernizing the Northeast Corridor rail system.”

The letter, addressed to Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyFive things to watch for in Trump-Putin summit GOP senators visited Moscow on July 4, warned Russia against meddling in 2018 election: report Senate battle over court nominee threatens to stymie legislative progress MORE (R-Ala.) and ranking member Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyKavanaugh paper chase heats up Senate Dems tell Trump: Don't meet with Putin one-on-one Overnight Defense: Fears rise over Trump-Putin summit | McCain presses Trump to hold Putin 'accountable' for hacking | Pentagon does damage control after NATO meet MORE (D-Vt.), comes as the panel’s transportation subcommittee prepares to mark up its fiscal 2019 budget on Tuesday.

The coalition sent the document to the senators last Thursday and called for the upper chamber to provide Amtrak with $1.9 billion in funding and to set aside $650 million for the corridor.

“The Northeast Corridor - a nearly-500-mile network of railways between Washington, DC and Boston – is the nation’s most economically vital rail system and is one of the primary reasons why the Northeast is responsible for nearly $3 trillion in annual economic productivity,” Friedberg writes.

The Northeast Corridor is the rail line that operates from Boston to Washington, D.C., for which Amtrak owns much of the infrastructure.

The coalition includes groups like the Financial Services Roundtable, the University of Delaware and Siemens.

“The longer we wait to address this, the more complicated and expensive it will become – and failing to solve the problem could lead to the loss of operations along most or all of the network,” the coalition argues.

The House Appropriations Committee last month approved a transportation spending bill for fiscal 2019 as President TrumpDonald John TrumpSasse: Trump shouldn't dignify Putin with Helsinki summit Top LGBT group projects message onto Presidential Palace in Helsinki ahead of Trump-Putin summit Hillary Clinton to Trump ahead of Putin summit: 'Do you know which team you play for?' MORE’s infrastructure proposal appears to be on ice in Congress.

But House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill ShusterWilliam (Bill) Franklin ShusterOvernight Defense: VA pick breezes through confirmation hearing | House votes to move on defense bill negotiations | Senate bill would set 'stringent' oversight on North Korea talks House passes bipartisan water infrastructure bill Stakeholder group urges Senate panel to fund Amtrak, Northeast Corridor MORE (R-Pa.), who is retiring at the end of his current term, is planning to unveil an infrastructure bill this summer.