Reckless Republicans Respond To Deadly Derailment With More Proposed Cuts To Amtrak

amtrak derailment

As President Obama expresses shock and grief over the tragic Amtrak derailment that left 6 dead and 200 hospitalized according to hospital officials, even Republicans don’t have faith that their own party will deal with the impending transportation funding bill responsibly.

Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) said, according to a tweet by Oliver Knox, that he will be stunned if Republicans deal with the highway trust fund responsibly:

As hundreds of people are being treated for injuries, the Republican led House Appropriations Committee is meeting to discuss cutting Amtrak’s budget by $251 million. President Obama asked for $2.5 billion in funding, but Republicans responded with a budget that calls for $1.1 billion.

Republicans have had it out for Amtrak for a long time, refusing to pass President Obama’s expansion of the rail service through the stimulus and defunding it at every turn.

In September of 2014, the House voted to cut Amtrak’s authorization for new construction spending by 40%, and they claimed it was bipartisan because they wanted to cut Amtrak funding all together and privatize it:

The measure, which was passed on a voice vote with little debate, would reduce Amtrak’s authorized spending level for new construction from approximately $1.3 billion per year under the last Amtrak funding measure to about $770 million annually beginning next year.

Republicans and Democrats on the panel said the measure was bipartisan, despite the construction budget cut, because it does not go as far as previous GOP efforts to completely eliminate Amtrak’s federal funding and privatize its profitable Northeast routes.

Republicans said the new measure would keep funding levels in line for the company while forcing them to streamline their operations when it came to construction.

So Republicans cut the funding from the usual estimated 1 billion and now they will decry any suggestion that maintenance and security require funding (see Benghazi). But not all Republicans are on board with their party.

Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA) called for a boost to funding for Amtrak on CNN Wednesday morning, citing safety concerns of his constituents, “If we’re not investing in our safety for the Northeast Corridor, we’re not doing what we should be doing down here. We need to continue to invest in our passenger rail system.”

President Obama expressed his grief and commended fire, police and medical first responders in a statement, “Along with Americans across our country, Michelle and I were shocked and deeply saddened to hear of the derailment aboard Amtrak Train 188. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of those we lost last night, and to the many passengers who today begin their long road to recovery.”

“Along the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak is a way of life for many. From Washington, DC and Philadelphia to New York City and Boston, this is a tragedy that touches us all. As we work to determine exactly what happened, I commend the fire, police and medical personnel working tirelessly and professionally to save lives. Philadelphia is known as the city of brotherly love – a city of neighborhoods and neighbors – and that spirit of loving-kindness was reaffirmed last night, as hundreds of first responders and passengers lent a hand to their fellow human beings in need.”

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi called for a thorough investigation into what went wrong, “This is a tragedy that hits close to home for many here in D.C. – along a familiar route for many Members of Congress traveling to and from Washington, and one of the busiest rail corridors in the nation. We must have a thorough investigation and assessment of what went wrong, and I am pleased the NTSB and FRA have deployed teams.”

Until the investigations are completed, we won’t know what caused the tragic derailment. But we do know that reckless defunding in an effort to impose a partisan agenda has dangers. This is logical, and when we defund security it’s disingenuous to make the next many years about how that security failed, failing of course to examine the lack of funding.

Republicans can’t make the argument against public transportation so they try to kill it quietly, by defunding it and making it so unworkable that people stop using it (see their efforts to kill the post office). They claim they are getting rid of bloat, as they justify multi-million dollar bonuses in the private sector (or, rather, the private sector whose losses are paid for by the public). If a top executive must be allowed millions in bonuses in order to perform, why doesn’t an entire transportation system require a similar increase in funding in order to perform?

Not investing in infrastructure can have life and death consequences. Republicans are gambling with Americans lives just to score a few partisan political points. For once, would it be too much to ask for House Republicans to put down their dog-eared copies of Ayn Rand’s fiction and do what is right?

Americans lives are depending on it.

Update 12:47 PM: Minutes ago, the House Appropriations Committee rejected an amendment to increase funding for Amtrak.

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28 Replies to “Reckless Republicans Respond To Deadly Derailment With More Proposed Cuts To Amtrak”

  1. Amtrak is coming under heavy scrutiny these days. The passenger rail service needed $1.4 billion in subsidies from Congress in 2012,

    WikiLeaks Disclosure Shows U.S. Airlines Received Billions in Subsidies
    The FAA operations and maintenance fund attracted about one-third of the total federal government direct spending during the period under analysis, receiving nearly $55 billion.

    So according to republican logic if you want to call it that the next an airplane crashes we should cut off the teat that they gourge themselves on

  2. Other than a few Republicans with common sense and morals the majority don’t give a rat’s ass about what’s good for this nations very structure because they can fly above it in private jets and shut out the world in their sound proof limo’s. Decades of rot caused by the Reich Wings abuse and theft of tax revenues will now be blamed on Obama and the ACA in Their solution to this problem will be #1 Repeal Obamacare #2 Cut taxes for corporations because they will fund the repair and construction of this great nation as God has intended…..Yeah! Right. When there are airworthy porcine!!!

  3. Our honorable repug controlled Congress has money for
    war in the ME, but I guess it’s asking too much for them
    to consider American infrastructure. In the last 20 years
    our’s dropped from first in the world to 24th, but keep
    hacking away at funding like good obedient kochroaches.

  4. trains moving people have never been profitable… the reason they are federally funded these days is because the ‘private’ sector gave up on ever making a profit on them…

    even the railroad builders made more money on the tax breaks and the land allotments for the right of ways and the land concessions for mile of track built…

    as with all things the Congress gets involved with… the micromanaging drives bad decisions…

    forcing a Constitutionally mandated service, like the Post Office, towards bankruptcy by imposing unreasonable requirements for ‘pension reserves’…

    then underfunding Amtrak so it goes under forces the people who depend on it into cars to drive on crumbling surface roads that the government also refuses to fund…

    but.. you know… who needs the government… drown it…

  5. The US train system that was the envy of the planet, has been pushed to deteriorate by the auto & oil industries (and their lobby-representatives in congress)

    Now, there is a sunami of elders who will need to get in a train or a bus to go places, it is not the time to get rid, it is the time to improve it!

  6. Rachel Maddow frequently talks about the exploding oil tanker train accidents that have happened across the country in transporting them.

    Last night (I only saw a snippet of the show) she had documents from some local gov’t showing their concerns about the main railway used to transport those exploding trains has a few Missle silos on them and they are armed.

    As big as the explosions are they would be way worse if they just happened to go of the rails at the nuclear silo sites directly next to the tracks.

    Jaw dropping. She’s waiting to hear back from higher government officials.

  7. As of now, someone came through and gave everyone (oddly except for jcblues) a thumbs down and this is not a heated subject. Maranon for example said something entirely innocent – nobody could object to that.

    What happens with the thumbs down – they are added and then you get flags? Where are the specific rules for this site listed?

  8. And YOU know the cause wasn’t equipment malfunction? For someone who don know shit I am surprised that after one day you came to this conclusion

  9. The Acela achieves an average speed of 80 mph (129 km/h) between Washington and New York; highest speed is 150 mph (241 km/h) on two sections of track in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. There are also many miles of track, especially east of New Haven, that have been upgraded to allow maximum speeds in excess of 110 mph (177 km/h). South of New York, Acela Express service is limited to 135 mph (217 km/h), even though several stretches of track there are straight enough to allow 150 mph (241 km/h) speeds.,2600214

    The train derailed at UNDER it’s maximum rated traveling speed.

  10. Pretty much a typical response from a troll: knows everything; knee jerk reaction to blame someone without knowing all the facts.

  11. Erica, I think the driver fell asleep. Maybe not. But you know what, there is a piece of equipment that is required in a year from now but not yet, that would have stopped it from accelerating past normal and monitors accident potential. If funding wasn’t always a huge issue, maybe it would have been on the train.

    I don’t know, but funding things doesn’t hurt the statistics, it can only improve the safety.

  12. That would be this doohickey and it was in 2008

    The original 2008 law, the Rail Safety Improvement Act, came in response to a series of deadly rail accidents — the most prominent being a 2008 California collision between a commuter train and freight train that killed 25 people and injured 135. Federal regulators touted requirements that rail companies install the PTC technology as a crucial upgrade, one that would limit “train-to-train collisions, overspeed derailments, incursions into established work zone limits, and the movement of a train.”

  13. No Dj. not 2008. I saw a safety guy on TV on the scene tonight lamenting that the equipment that could have prevented this crash wasn’t on the train and doens’t have to be until the end of the year or next year he said.

    So it must be some other device.

  14. This is why I don’t watch TV for news. I will quote it again

    The original 2008 law, the Rail Safety Improvement Act, came in response to a series of deadly rail accidents — the most prominent being a 2008 California collision between a commuter train and freight train that killed 25 people and injured 135. Federal regulators touted requirements that rail companies install the PTC technology as a crucial upgrade, one that would limit “train-to-train collisions, overspeed derailments, incursions into established work zone limits, and the movement of a train.”

    Now it suppose to have been installed by 2015 but because of lobbying by the railroad industry nothing was ever done

    The chief sponsor of the bipartisan bill delaying the safety technology mandate, Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, has accepted more than $290,000 in campaign contributions from the railroad industry during his career — the fifth-highest tally in the Senate, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), a campaign finance watchdog group. The Association of American Railroads — which counts private railroad companies and Amtrak as members — backed Blunt’s legislation to delay the mandate.

  15. Yes, I saw what you wrote, no need to repeat. I don’t watch TV either. I just did a quick search of the news and something came up about this system, maybe it is not part of the train as I originally thought, but the man might have been talking about this signal system device.

    “business and commuter route — that did not have a signal system known as positive train control, which can dictate speeds and slow trains around curves.

    Mr. Sumwalt said positive train control could have prevented the crash. “Based on what we know right now,” he told reporters at a news conference here, “we feel that had such a system been installed on this section of track, this accident would not have occurred.”

    Even without the system, rail safety experts said Amtrak locomotives have multiple systems to alert train operators to excess speed, with warning lights and sound alarms. Mr. Sumwalt said he did not know yet whether those systems had worked.

  16. The Positive Train Control or PTC, aimed at preventing collisions and derailments, likely would have prevented the accident by forcing the train to stay below the speed limit, according to National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt.

    Another Deadly Derailment Happened in Same Area 71 Years Ago

    “That type of system is designed to enforce the civil speed to keep the train below its maximum speed. So we have called for positive train control for many, many years. It’s on our most-wanted list,” Sumwalt said Wednesday evening after spending the first day with a full team of NTSB investigators, touring the wreckage and downloading data from the locomotive’s black box.

    “Based on what we know right now, we feel that had such a system been installed in this section of track, this accident would not have occurred.”

    Read more:
    Follow us: @nbcphiladelphia o…

  17. The federal government doesn’t fund Delta or United Airlines! Why would they fund passenger trains? The federal government can’t manage the post office, the VA, or the IRS. Amtrak should be privatized….period!

  18. Actually the government did fund the Airlines:

    The Post office has to obey Republican roadblocks:

    Time and again the VA also has to deal with Republican Roadblocks:

    And the same with the IRS.

    Privatization is a ‘solution’ in search of a problem.

    All of the problems created- were created by Conservatives.

  19. Everyday and another bout of ignorance
    WikiLeaks Disclosure Shows U.S. Airlines Received Billions in Subsidies

    Dumbass the Post office would be profitable if republicans didn’t have them do something that no other agency or companies in America have to do which fully fund their pensions for the next 75 years
    A Manufactured ‘Crisis’: Congress Can Let The Post Office Save Itself Without Mass Layoffs Or Service Reductions

    I know your chickenkhawk ass never served but I have and I never had any problems with the VA other than when I have an appointment sometimes they run late but that’s every hospital

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