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 CostellloOvernight Energy: Park Service closing Joshua Tree after shutdown damage | Dems deliver trash from parks to White House | Dems offer bills to block offshore drilling | Oil lobby worries about Trump trade fight Ex-GOP Rep. Ryan Costello joins group pushing carbon tax Exiting lawmakers jockey for K Street perch 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 LoweyOn The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week How the border deal came together Winners and losers in the border security deal 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.”