Energy & Environment

Business, labor groups teaming in high-speed rail push

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A coalition of businesses and labor groups is calling on Congress to include hundreds of billions of dollars of funding for high-speed rail in the forthcoming infrastructure bills.

The alliance, dubbed the U.S. High Speed Rail Coalition, is asking Congress to allocate $205 billion toward high-speed rail, in addition to robust labor standards, a High-Speed Rail Development Authority and a Rail Trust Fund.

The campaign for high-speed rail received a last-minute push from lawmakers and lobbyists last month, after the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee advanced a $547 billion infrastructure bill that would provide $25 billion for high-speed rail projects.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee introduced an accompanying bill days later that would allocate funding for similar projects.

The House bill, however, does not allow private rail firms to receive federal funding, which has given rise to a lobbying campaign by companies that are hoping to build some of the first high-speed railways in the U.S.

The coalition said its alliance is bringing together unions, businesses and public servants to help the push for funding. A bipartisan trio of former secretaries of Transportation — Ray LaHood, Anthony Foxx and Norman Mineta — are serving as co-chairs of the group.

The group includes the Teamsters Rail Conference, construction companies HNTB Corp. and Aecom, and rail operators such as Florida’s Brightline.

President Biden last month announced that he and a bipartisan group of senators reached an infrastructure deal, capping off months of negotiations.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Tuesday that he and Democrats on the Budget Committee reached a deal for a $3.5 trillion infrastructure package, which will be passed through budget reconciliation.

The coalition is now pushing for high-speed rail funding to be included in the bills.

“The United States is the only major industrial nation that does not have high-speed rail. In France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and the UK, highspeed rail lines crisscross these nations. China built a brand-new system of 23,000 miles of high-speed rail in just the last 14 years! The U.S. has none. We are launching this campaign to finally bring highspeed rail to the United States,” Andy Kunz, president of the U.S. High Speed Rail Association, said in a statement.

“The next two months will determine whether the United States makes the pivot away from highway congestion and climate disaster to the clean and efficient transportation system of the future,” he added.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) made a similar pitch last month, calling on Congress to increase funding for high-speed rail in the infrastructure package.

“Rail is climate infrastructure,” Ocasio-Cortez said at a press conference.

“For every buck that we’re going to put into a car and a bridge, we want to put a buck into a rail. We want equity. That’s what we’re here to demand,” she added.

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Anthony Foxx Charles Schumer Joe Biden Kirsten Gillibrand Seth Moulton

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