Amtrak funding cut 'unfortunate,' says Pelosi

Amtrak funding cut 'unfortunate,' says Pelosi
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House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi: Democrats will 'certainly' beat Trump in 2020 Kavanaugh impeachment push hits Capitol buzz saw Lewandowski, Democrats tangle at testy hearing MORE (D-Calif.) said Thursday that a House committee vote to cut funding for Amtrak a day after a deadly crash in Philadelphia earlier this week is "unfortunate."

The House Appropriations Committee voted on Wednesday to reduce Amtrak's funding from the roughly $1.4 billion Congress appropriated for 2015 to about $1.13 billion for the next fiscal year. 

The cut — part of a $55 billion funding bill for the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development — sparked hours of partisan debate, as Democrats accused Republicans of turning a blind eye to the Amtrak crash and GOP leaders countered that it was Democrats who were being insensitive by milking the deadly accident for political reasons. 

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Pelosi said Thursday that Republicans were wrong to cut Amtrak's funding a day after the deadly crash. 

"It is unfortunate that yesterday in the Appropriations Committee ... an amendment by [Rep.] Chaka Fattah [D-Pa.] to fund Amtrak at the President's Budget Request was voted down," she said during a press conference at the Capitol. 

Republicans have accused Democrats of seeking to use the Amtrak accident, which killed at least eight people, to gain a political advantage in the fight over the rail company's funding in Washington. 

Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerBoehner reveals portrait done by George W. Bush Meadows to be replaced by Biggs as Freedom Caucus leader Scaramucci compares Trump to Jonestown cult leader: 'It's like a hostage crisis inside the White House' MORE (R-Ohio) said in a news conference of his own on Thursday that it is "stupid" to suggest the Amtrak crash was linked to funding. 

“Are you really going to ask such a stupid question?” Boehner interjected after a reporter began asking him about transportation funding cuts.

“Adequate funds were there,” he said, adding that no money has been cut from rail-safety programs. 

Pelosi, meanwhile, criticized Republicans for blocking funding for an automated train control system known as Positive Train Control that investigators have said could have helped prevent Tuesday's crash. 

"Our [Rep. Rosa] DeLauro [D-Conn.] amendment to fund the Positive Train Control, which some have said could have prevented what happened night before last, that was — the DeLauro amendment would have funded Positive Train Control at the president's budget level, $825 million," she said. "That was voted down." 

Investigators have said the train involved in the deadly crash was traveling at more than 100 miles per hour when it derailed near Philadelphia in a crash that could have been prevented if the train had been automatically slowed down.

At least eight passengers were killed in the crash, and more than 200 others were injured.

Congress originally mandated that the automation system, known as positive train control, be installed by rail companies by the end of the year after a 2008 commuter rail crash.

Rail companies argued the system was too expensive to install on time, however, and some lawmakers pushed earlier this year to extend the deadline until 2020.

Pelosi vowed to fight the push to extend the deadline in light of the Amtrak crash. 

"There are some in the Congress who were saying, oh, we've got to push that date five years farther into the future," she said. "We have to resist that. We must try to get the Positive Train Control."