Schumer: Boehner's Amtrak comments are 'patently false'

Schumer: Boehner's Amtrak comments are 'patently false'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerJewish Democratic congresswoman and veteran blasts Trump's 'disloyalty' comments Schumer says Trump encouraging anti-Semites Saagar Enjeti: Biden's latest blunder; Krystal Ball: Did Schumer blow our chance to beat McConnell? MORE (D-N.Y.) on Thursday slammed Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerScaramucci compares Trump to Jonestown cult leader: 'It's like a hostage crisis inside the White House' Israel should resist Trump's efforts to politicize support Lobbyists race to cash in on cannabis boom MORE (R-Ohio) for saying there is no link between Amtrak's funding and this week's derailment of a train that left eight people dead.

“Speaker BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerScaramucci compares Trump to Jonestown cult leader: 'It's like a hostage crisis inside the White House' Israel should resist Trump's efforts to politicize support Lobbyists race to cash in on cannabis boom MORE’s comments are patently false,” Schumer said in a statement. “Experts have made clear that Positive Train Control [PTC] could have prevented the tragedy in Philadelphia.”

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The PTC system would automatically recognize whether a train is speeding and stop it. Congress has mandated that the system be put in place by the end of the year, and it was not in place on the section of railroad north of Philadelphia where Tuesday night's crash took place. 

More than 200 passengers were injured in the wreck.

A National Transportation Safety Board official said the system could have prevented the crash, something echoed by Schumer.

“It is simply a fact that insufficient funding for Amtrak has delayed the installation of PTC, and to deny a connection between the accident and underfunding Amtrak is to deny reality,” Schumer added.

Boehner ripped Democrats earlier on Thursday for suggestion funding cuts to Amtrak were connected to the derailment.

“Are you really going to ask such a stupid question?” Boehner said in response to a question about the cuts.

Democrats, he went on, “started this yesterday. It’s all about funding. It’s all about funding. Well, obviously it’s not about funding."

Just hours after the crash, the GOP-led House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday advanced a fiscal 2016 bill funding transportation and housing programs that would cut funding to Amtrak starting in October.

The bill would give Amtrak $1.1 billion next year, down from the $1.4 billion Congress appropriated to the rail service for this year.

Democrats were up in arms over the cut and offered amendments that would boost Amtrak’s funding — all of which were blocked by the panel’s Republican members.

At the time, the cause of the crash was not yet known. Later that day, a preliminary investigation found the train, which was traveling from Washington, D.C., to New York, was traveling 106 mph on a curve that had a 50 mph speed limit.

Boehner alluded to the speed Thursday and said, “Adequate funds were there.”