GOP lawmaker promises to fight Amtrak funding cut

GOP lawmaker promises to fight Amtrak funding cut
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After a deadly derailment in his home state, a Republican lawmaker from Pennsylvania is promising to fight a proposed funding cut for Amtrak that is included in a bill being considered in the House on Wednesday. 

Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 was traveling from Washington, D.C. to New York on Tuesday night when derailed near Philadelphia. 

The train was carrying 238 passengers and five crew members at the time of the accident, according to Amtrak officials. At least six people were killed and more than 100 injured in the crash. 

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The accident occurred a day before the House Appropriations Committee was scheduled to mark up a transportation bill that would cut Amtrak’s funding almost $200 million. 

Rep. Ryan CostelloRyan Anthony CostellloDems eyeing smaller magic number for House majority House GOP starts summer break on a note of friction Overnight Energy: Proposed rule would roll back endangered species protections | House passes Interior, EPA spending | House votes to disavow carbon tax MORE (R-Pa.) said in an interview on CNN’s “Newsroom” show Wednesday that the accident showed Amtrak’s funding should be preserved.

“You put up some statistics at the beginning of the segment about some who seek to reduce the appropriations for Amtrak,” he said. “I'm not in that camp; I can tell you that right now. And if that bill shows a reduction when it hits the floor, myself and others, I think you're going to see amendments to make sure that there is stable funding on the northeast corridor.” 

The GOP measure provides $55.3 billion for the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, but the measure reduces Amtrak’s funding from $1.4 billion to a little more than $1.2 billion. 

Officials with the committee have said the funding cut would only affect new construction projects, not operations or safety. 

Costello said in his interview on Wednesday that Amtrak needs to be adequately funded, especially in its heavily traveled Northeast Corridor, where Tuesday’s accident occurred. 

“If we're not investing in our safety for the Northeast Corridor, we're not doing what we should be doing down here,” he said. “People need to have confidence, we need to have confidence that it's a safe route.” 

Democrats in the House railed against the cut during Thursday’s hearing.  

“I think it’s important that we look not just at this accident, but all the other accidents,” Rep. Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyCongress sends first spending package to Trump in push to avert shutdown The stakes are sky-high for the pro-life cause in the upcoming midterms Dems urge Mattis to reject using 0M for border wall MORE (D-N.Y.) said.  “This bill is $6.8 billion below the president’s request for transportation, and that includes safety and capital programs.”   

“We are the Appropriations Committee,” she continued. “As we bemoan the shortage of funds, as we bemoan the issues with safety, we have the power to move this process forward.”