Stakeholder group urges Senate panel to fund Amtrak, Northeast Corridor

Stakeholder group urges Senate panel to fund Amtrak, Northeast Corridor
© Greg Nash

A group of stakeholders is pressing the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its ranking member to increase funding for the Northeast Corridor in the upcoming spending bill.

“We urge your Committee to match the level of investment proposed by the House Appropriations Committee,” Michael Friedberg, the executive director of the Coalition for the Northeast Corridor, wrote in a letter provided exclusively to The Hill.

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“This kind of increase in federal investment would represent an important step forward in repairing and modernizing the Northeast Corridor rail system.”

The letter, addressed to Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyDavis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Wary GOP eyes Meadows shift from brick-thrower to dealmaker On The Money: Pessimism grows as coronavirus talks go down to the wire | Jobs report poised to light fire under COVID-19 talks | Tax preparers warn unemployment recipients could owe IRS MORE (R-Ala.) and ranking member Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Yates spars with GOP at testy hearing Vermont has a chance to show how bipartisanship can tackle systemic racism MORE (D-Vt.), comes as the panel’s transportation subcommittee prepares to mark up its fiscal 2019 budget on Tuesday.

The coalition sent the document to the senators last Thursday and called for the upper chamber to provide Amtrak with $1.9 billion in funding and to set aside $650 million for the corridor.

“The Northeast Corridor - a nearly-500-mile network of railways between Washington, DC and Boston – is the nation’s most economically vital rail system and is one of the primary reasons why the Northeast is responsible for nearly $3 trillion in annual economic productivity,” Friedberg writes.

The Northeast Corridor is the rail line that operates from Boston to Washington, D.C., for which Amtrak owns much of the infrastructure.

The coalition includes groups like the Financial Services Roundtable, the University of Delaware and Siemens.

“The longer we wait to address this, the more complicated and expensive it will become – and failing to solve the problem could lead to the loss of operations along most or all of the network,” the coalition argues.

The House Appropriations Committee last month approved a transportation spending bill for fiscal 2019 as President TrumpDonald John TrumpNew Bob Woodward book will include details of 25 personal letters between Trump and Kim Jong Un On The Money: Pelosi, Mnuchin talk but make no progress on ending stalemate | Trump grabs 'third rail' of politics with payroll tax pause | Trump uses racist tropes to pitch fair housing repeal to 'suburban housewife' Biden commemorates anniversary of Charlottesville 'Unite the Right' rally: 'We are in a battle for the soul of our nation' MORE’s infrastructure proposal appears to be on ice in Congress.

But House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill ShusterWilliam (Bill) Franklin ShusterLobbying firm cuts ties to Trent Lott amid national anti-racism protests Ex-Rep. Frelinghuysen joins law and lobby firm Ex-Rep. Duffy to join lobbying firm BGR MORE (R-Pa.), who is retiring at the end of his current term, is planning to unveil an infrastructure bill this summer.