Democrats use Amtrak crash to bash Republicans

Democrats use Amtrak crash to bash Republicans

Democrats on Wednesday bashed a fiscal 2016 spending bill that would cut funding to Amtrak, just hours after one of its trains crashed north of Philadelphia.

“I do hope we can keep the accident in mind [during today’s markup],” Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said about the derailed Amtrak train. “Cutting the funding drastically does not help improve the services at Amtrak.”

At least seven people died as a result of the derailment, which also left at least 200 injured, authorities said.

“We cannot meet tomorrow’s challenges by slashing investments in TIGER, Amtrak and air traffic modernization,” Lowey added.

The GOP-sponsored transportation and housing bill contains $1.13 billion for Amtrak for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. That’s down from roughly $1.4 billion that Congress appropriated for 2015.

A spokeswoman for Republicans on the Appropriations Committee pointed out that those amounts are for infrastructure and construction, and do not cover operating costs or safety. The aide said the Federal Railroad Administration would receive nearly $187 million for safety and operations for next year, which is the same amount as for 2015.

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