House Republicans held firm on proposed cuts to Amtrak funding Wednesday, rejecting Democratic attempts to increase rail subsidies in the wake of a deadly train crash.
At a hearing held just hours after a train derailed near Philadelphia Tuesday night, the House Appropriations Committee approved legislation cutting federal subsidies for Amtrak by $250 million, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The measure was approved in a 30-21 party line vote, as Democrats sought not only to prevent the cuts, but even pushed for increased funding, arguing that the crash demonstrates the need for improved safety measures.
Democratic Rep. Chaka Fattah even implied that insufficient funding may have been a contributing factor in the accident.
While it’s too early to speculate on the cause of last night’s derailment, ensuring safety and reliability on our railways requires substantial investment in Amtrak, and it is imperative we continue to prioritize our country’s investment in transportation infrastructure.
Republican Rep. Mike Simpson chastised Democrats for politicizing the tragedy, telling them after the vote was taken that the strategy “was beneath you,” according to the New York Times.
Other Republicans, perhaps hoping to forestall accusations of callousness, explained that Amtrak’s problems have not been caused by a lack of funding, but by mismanagement of the railroad’s resources.
“What they own is poorly maintained and outdated infrastructure,” said Republican Rep. John Mica, but “They don’t have the trust of Congress to get substantial money because they’ve not spent the money well that they’ve gotten.”
“When you give them money, they squander it,” he added.
Meanwhile, the latest word from investigators suggests that the cause of the crash was “engineer error.” The train was said to be traveling 106 miles per hour as it entered a curve with a speed limit of 50 miles per hour.