More Details from White House Proposal to End National Network
March 20, 2019
As we reported last week, the Trump Administration’s budget continues a series of attacks on the National Network. The release of the full budget this week gives us more details—and more reason to be concerned. We need your help to fight it!
By Jim Mathews, President & CEO | Rail Passengers Association
As we reported last week, the Trump Administration’s budget continues a series of attacks on the National Network. The release of the full budget this week gives us more details—and more reason to be concerned.
The White House budget document proudly points to $1.06 billion in cuts to Amtrak, but also does a curious thing by proposing that that the “Federal operating support for Long Distance routes would now be provided through the Restoration and Enhancement (R&E) Grant program, not Amtrak's annual grant, and then phased out entirely” [emphasis added]. The Trump Administration argues that rural communities along the routes “will be better served by other modes of transportation, like intercity buses.”
We hope that, like last year, this budget is a non-starter. But we note with some concern that this time around, the Administration appears to be getting a little smarter in its approach—and that approach could yet endanger our trains. The Trump Administration seems to be taking a page from anti-long-distance factions in Washington, looking to pit National Network services against the Northeast Corridor. And by moving it to a competitive grant program—controlled by the White House—the administration gets to choose the winners and losers. Our wins in the past two years came from being a UNIFIED coalition, and these proposals are carefully written to be used as a weapon to fracture our coalition.
We've succeeded in our mission by building a broad-based, non-partisan congressional coalition: representatives from all across the country, rural and urban, Republican and Democrat. They all read your emails and letters, listened to your phone calls and met with our DC team, and together we delivered a loud and clear message that passenger rail in this country is important.
That's why we can't be complacent. Congress needs to hear from you again. We need your voices. We need your energy. And as an Association we need your continued financial support to keep fighting this fight.
When you renew today, you're ensuring that we have the resources we need to keep on winning. We secured big appropriations increases for Amtrak. We beat back Amtrak's plans to substitute buses for rail service on the Southwest Chief. We got Congress to add language to the appropriations bill preserving the National Network. We did an economic-benefits study for new service between Chicago and the Twin Cities—and local legislators and Amtrak are on board with our findings.
If your membership has expired, please use this opportunity to jump back on board. If your membership expires this month, please don't forget to renew. We need every voice and every member RIGHT NOW as we gear up to fight back again.
With your letters, your emails, your phone calls AND your continued financial support, we can beat back this budget request again. But we need to hear from you soon...today if you can.
We’re working very hard on behalf of the American rail passenger, and we hope you’ll help us keep on doing that work for years to come.
"Thank you to Jim Mathews and the Rail Passengers Association for presenting me with this prestigious award. I am always looking at ways to work with the railroads and rail advocates to improve the passenger experience."
Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3)
February 14, 2020, on receiving the Association's Golden Spike Award