House members push for 'robust' rail funding

House members push for 'robust' rail funding
© WTVD-11

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers from Illinois is calling for Congress to include a "robust" amount of funding for passenger rail in a funding bill for the Department of Transportation. 

Lawmakers are considering a measure that contains funding for the 2016 fiscal year for the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. 

A group of 11 Democrats and one Republican Illinois lawmaker said the measure should "fully fund" rail programs that included in the transportation and housing measure, which is known in Washington as THUD. 


"Given the impact of passenger rail and transit to Illinois, we the undersigned members of the Illinois Congressional delegation write to request your support for vitally important transit and passenger rail investments by fully funding mass transit, Amtrak and Intercity Rail Capital Assistance Programs in the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2016," the lawmakers wrote in a letter to House Transportation and Housing and Urban Development subcommittee chairman Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.). 

"National passenger rail and transit systems are part of our national transportation network that are critical for competing in the 21st century economy, generating jobs and fostering urban and rural community growth," the lawmakers continued. "The importance of passenger rail and transit to the state of Illinois and the region generally cannot be overstated." 

The push for more rail funding comes weeks after lawmakers in the Republican-led House passed a passenger rail bill that authorized $7.8 billion for Amtrak.

Several of the Illinois lawmakers have also filed a bill to spend $1 billion over the next five years on boosting the safety of U.S. commuter railways after a recent string of accidents. 

The lawmakers who signed the letter Monday said it was important to have as much rail funding as possible. 

"Without robust federal funding of transit and passenger rail in the FY 2016 THUD appropriations bill, Illinois transportation systems will be subject to deteriorating roadbeds and equipment, bad on-time performance, increased traffic congestion, loss of ridership and American jobs," the lawmakers wrote. 

"For all of these reasons, we urge your support in fully funding for mass transit, Amtrak and Intercity Rail Capital Assistance Programs in the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2016," the letter continued. "We look forward to continuing to work with you to expand and improve access to public transit and passenger rail not only in Illinois but in communities throughout the nation." 

The letter is signed by Reps. Mike QuigleyMichael (Mike) Bruce QuigleyIn testimony, Dems see an ambassador scorned, while GOP defends Trump Ex-Ukraine ambassador arrives to give testimony Tax-return whistleblower in spotlight amid impeachment fight MORE (D-Ill.), Bobby RushBobby Lee RushHouse Democrats blur lines on support for impeachment Congress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid CBC lawmakers rip Justice Democrats for targeting black lawmakers for primaries MORE (D-Ill.), Danny DavisDaniel (Danny) K. DavisLawmakers toast Greta Van Susteren's new show The 13 House Democrats who back Kavanaugh's impeachment Restore Pell Grant eligibility to people in prison MORE (D-Ill.), Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), Tammy DuckworthLadda (Tammy) Tammy DuckworthOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — House passes resolution rebuking Trump over Syria | Sparks fly at White House meeting on Syria | Dems say Trump called Pelosi a 'third-rate politician' | Trump, Graham trade jabs Senate confirms Trump's Air Force secretary pick Missouri Republican wins annual craft brewing competition for lawmakers MORE (D-Ill.), Robin KellyRobin Lynne KellyLawmakers mourn death of 'Julia' star Diahann Carroll Jonathan Van Ness meets with Nancy Pelosi to discuss the Equality Act Democrats rally behind incumbents as Lipinski takes liberal fire MORE (D-Ill.), Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosHouse Democratic campaign arm raises .4 million in third quarter Pelosi tells Democrats to focus on Constitution, not Trump GOP ratchets up 2020 attacks as impeachment storm grows MORE (D-Ill.), Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Bill FosterGeorge (Bill) William FosterMass shootings have hit 158 House districts so far this year EPA head dodges questions about environmental action against San Francisco House Democrats blur lines on support for impeachment MORE (D-Ill.), Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyOvernight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — House Dems change drug pricing bill to address progressive concerns | Top Republican rejects Dem proposal on surprise medical bills | Vaping group launches Fox News ad blitz Hillicon Valley: FCC approves T-Mobile-Sprint merger | Dems wrangle over breaking up Big Tech at debate | Critics pounce as Facebook's Libra stumbles | Zuckerberg to be interviewed by Fox News | Twitter details rules for political figures' tweets Lawmakers hit Trump administration for including tech legal shield in trade negotiations MORE (D-Ill.) and Robert Dold (R-Ill.).