Amtrak, Transit Included in New House Stimulus Bill
September 30, 2020
House Democrats released a revised coronavirus stimulus bill (H.R. 925) this week that includes $2.4 billion in funding Amtrak, $32 billion for public transit, and protections for Amtrak workers and daily service on the National Network.
House Democrats released a new coronavirus stimulus bill (H.R. 925) this week that includes $2.4 billion in funding Amtrak, $32 billion for public transit, and protections for Amtrak workers and daily service on the National Network. These critically needed funds would avert catastrophic cuts to the U.S. transportation network and speed the economic recovery for thousands of towns across the nation.
“We are incredibly grateful that the House is taking action to avert these disastrous cuts to passenger trains, and we're calling on the Senate to follow suit,” said Rail Passengers President and CEO Jim Mathews. “The previous stimulus package passed by the House in May didn't include any money for Amtrak. That we've come so far in a few short months is a testament to the power of the committed advocacy of this organization, of our members and of passengers all across America.”
H.R. 925 Funding for Rail
- Northeast Corridor Grants: $1.39 billion, including:
- $220 million in lieu of payments from States and commuter rail passenger transportation providers;
- $92 million for use by Amtrak to repay or prepay debt;
- National Network Grants: $1 billion, including:
- $350 million in lieu of Sec. 209 payments by States for state-supported Amtrak corridors;
- Public Transit Grants: $32 billion.
In addition to providing additional funding, the House also included explicit protections for daily service and Amtrak workers:
SEC. 1203. Amounts made available in this Act under the headings ‘‘Northeast Corridor Grants to the National Railroad Passenger Corporation’’ and ‘‘National Network Grants to the National Railroad Passenger Corporation’’ shall be used under the same conditions as section 22002 of title XII of division B of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (Public Law 116–136): Provided, That the amounts made available in this Act under such headings shall be used by the National Railroad Passenger Corporation to prevent employee furloughs as a result of efforts to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus: Provided further, That none of the funds made available in this Act under such headings may be used by the National Railroad Passenger Corporation to reduce the frequency of rail service on any long-distance route (as defined in section 24102 of title 49, United 8 States Code) below frequencies for such routes in fiscal year 2019, except in an emergency or during maintenance or construction outages impacting such routes: Provided further, That the coronavirus shall not qualify as an emergency in the preceding proviso.
However, while the new proposal is more than $1 trillion less than the Heroes Act (H.R. 6800) passed by the House in May, it still is more than what Senate Republicans have indicated they are willing to pass.
Rail Passengers will keep pressure on the Senate to take action and avert these disastrous cuts, which would drop a $2 billion bomb on America’s heartland.
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"We would not be in the position we’re in if it weren’t for the advocacy of so many of you, over a long period of time, who have believed in passenger rail, and believe that passenger rail should really be a part of America’s intermodal transportation system."
Secretary Ray LaHood, U.S. Department of Transportation
2011 Spring Council Meeting