News Releases

Murray Prevails Over Senate GOP Leadership, Saves Amtrak Funding

Jan 16 2003

Amendment restores funding level to $1.2 billion

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ranking Member of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, today secured Senate passage of her amendment to restore Amtrak funding to the $1.2 billion previously approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee for fiscal year 2003.

Murray's successful efforts in securing the co-sponsorship of several Senate Republicans ensured its passage. The amendment, one of only a handful to be successfully attached thus far to the Omnibus Appropriations bill, restores funding for the struggling rail system to the amount necessary to maintain service.

Six months ago the Appropriations Committee unanimously passed a bill that funded Amtrak at the level of $1.2 billion, the level requested by the Amtrak Board of Directors in order to keep the railroad running.

Upon reorganization of the Senate, the bill was rewritten to reflect the Republican leadership's desire for a twenty-seven percent cut below the level of funding that Amtrak received in fiscal year 2002. According to Amtrak President David Gunn, the Republicans' desire to cut funding would lead to the railroad's bankruptcy within the year. "I want to commend my Republican co-sponsors, Senators Specter, Snowe, Chafee, and Hutchison for having the courage to join me in ensuring Amtrak's continued viability," Senator Murray said. "The Republican leadership accepted our amendment because we had the votes."

"Passage of this amendment provides stability for Amtrak and security to the millions of Amtrak riders and commuter rail passengers across the country who depend on its service," Murray continued. "Restoring funding to Amtrak is the right thing to do while we continue to debate the larger issues regarding the company's future."

The Murray amendment provides an additional $374 million to Amtrak for the remainder of fiscal year 2003. Senator Murray also provided $1.2 billion in Amtrak funding in the fiscal year 2003 Transportation Appropriations bill adopted by the full Senate Appropriations Committee last summer.

The House of Representatives failed to adopt a Transportation Appropriations measure, leading to the Omnibus Appropriations bill now before the Senate.

"Once again, the Senate has demonstrated strong bipartisan support for Amtrak. We now await a response from the White House and House Republicans. I will continue to fight for Amtrak in Conference," Senator Murray said. "It is time for our nation's leaders to assure travelers across the country that Amtrak will remain viable and more forward with reform."