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 ShelbyMcConnell support for election security funds leaves Dems declaring victory Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg courts critics on Capitol Hill | Amazon makes climate pledge | Senate panel approves 0M for state election security House votes to avert shutdown, fund government through November MORE (R-Ala.) and ranking member Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg courts critics on Capitol Hill | Amazon makes climate pledge | Senate panel approves 0M for state election security Senate committee approves 0 million for state election security efforts Senate panel approves three spending bills 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 TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE’s infrastructure proposal appears to be on ice in Congress.

But House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill ShusterWilliam (Bill) Franklin ShusterEx-GOP Rep. Roskam joins lobbying firm Anti-corruption group hits Congress for ignoring K Street, Capitol Hill 'revolving door' Republicans spend more than million at Trump properties MORE (R-Pa.), who is retiring at the end of his current term, is planning to unveil an infrastructure bill this summer.