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Passengers Applaud House's Restoration of Key Transit Rail Program, Defeat of Anti-Transit Amendments

November 5, 2015

Release #15-24

With House Bill Cleared, NARP Turns Attention to Successful Passage of DRIVE Act's Rail Title

For Immediate Release (#15-24)

Contact: Benet J. Wilson

443/838-7033 mobile

WASHINGTON, D.C. The National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) applauded the good judgment shown by members of the U.S. House of Representatives in voting today to restore flexibility and increase federal commitment to a key transit program, while overwhelmingly defeating three amendments that would have hurt transit rail systems across the nation.

Now, with today's passage of a highway and transit bill in the House by a vote of 363 to 64, NARP is calling on the full Congress to advance a final transportation bill that includes the passenger rail provisions included in the Senate's Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act, which—with the proper funding levels—could be used to build the efficient intermodal transportation network that American businesses will need to compete globally in the 21st century.

The House hosted extended floor action yesterday to process the 100-plus amendments filed to the Surface Transportation Reauthorization & Reform (STRR) Act. This vote-o-rama included some key victories for passengers:

  • Passage of a bipartisan amendment to restore an 80/20 federal-state match and increase local flexibility for key transit programs used to build new light rail, commuter rail, and streetcar systems. Sponsored by Reps. Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Bob Dold's (R-IL), the amendment passed by a vote of 363 to 64 as part of a large package of amendments;

  • Rejection of an amendment to ban all federal investment in streetcar projects was defeated by a voice vote. Sponsored by Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK), this amendment was defeated by a voice vote;

  • Rejection of an amendment that would have hurt large transit agencies through onerous equity-to-debt regulations. Offered by Rep. John Culberson (R-TX), this was defeated by a vote of 116 to 313; and

  • Rejection of an amendment to eliminate the federal role in transportation. Sponsored by Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), this proposal was defeated by a vote of 118 to 310.

"Congress given us two clear options for how to move forward: a concrete framework for passenger rail predicated on growth in the Senate, and more of the same in the House," said NARP President Jim Mathews. "NARP is calling on the over 31 million intercity rail passengers, along with the millions more who ride commuter trains and light rail every day, to reach out to Congressional conferees and voice their support for the pro-growth passenger rail provisions included in the DRIVE Act."

The DRIVE Act increases levels of infrastructure investment for roads, rails, and transit. It also includes a number of extremely promising provisions that would double Amtrak’s authorization levels, give a greater voice to the National Network in passenger rail planning, and incentivize restoring and expanding train service. The STRR Act, meanwhile, completely ignores passenger trains, and instead freezes funding for highways and transit at existing levels.

The House conferees have already been named, with the Senate conferees expected shortly.

—House Republican Conferees: Bill Shuster, Pa., John Duncan, Tenn., Sam Graves, Mo., Candice Miller, Mich., Rick Crawford, Ark., Lou Barletta, Pa., Blake Farenthold, Texas, Bob Gibbs, Ohio, Jeff Denham, Calif., Reid Ribble, Wis., Scott Perry, Pa., Rob Woodall, Ga., John Katko, N.Y., Bruce Babin, Texas, Cresent Hardy, Nev., and Garret Graves, La.

—House Democratic conferees: Peter DeFazio, Ore., Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C., Jerrold Nadler, N.Y., Corrine Brown, Fla., Eddie Bernice Johnson, Texas, Elijah Cummings, Md., Rick Larsen, Wash., Michael Capuano, Mass., Grace Napolitano, Calif., Daniel Lipinski, Ill., Steve Cohen, Tenn., and Albio Sires, N.J.

About the National Association of Railroad Passengers

NARP is the only national organization speaking for the nearly 40 million users of passenger trains and rail transit. We have worked since 1967 to expand the quality and quantity of passenger rail in the U.S. Our mission is to work towards a modern, customer-focused national passenger train network that provides a travel choice Americans want. Our work is supported by more than 28,000 individual members nationwide.