News Releases

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) Earlier today, the Bush Administration objected to a $205 million emergency appropriation to continue Amtrak's operations through September. This funding to keep Amtrak going is currently part of the Supplemental Appropriations bill, which is pending in conference.

"Only two weeks ago, with passenger rail service on the brink of a nation-wide shutdown, Secretary Mineta said, "This must be a team effort. The burden is not on the administration to save the rail system from bankruptcy, nor should it be." But when Congress tries to save Amtrak, the Administration steps in to cut funding.

Sen. Patty Murray, Chair of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, released the following statement:

"Today the Administration resumed its posture of severely under-funding Amtrak, by refusing to support the $205 million Amtrak needs to get through the end of this year. House and Senate negotiators had agreed to the funding as part of the supplemental appropriations bill.

While congress stands ready and willing, it is not able to provide funding for Amtrak if the Administration continues its openly hostile posture.

Not only does the President intend to starve Amtrak for the remainder of this year, but the Administration's request for next year provides less than half of what is needed to continue passenger rail service.

At the end of June, Amtrak nearly shut down because the Administration sought to play high stakes chicken rather than fund Amtrak at the necessary level. An Amtrak shutdown would have catastrophic implications – not only for intercity passenger rail, but also for commuters trying to get to work in some of the nation's largest cities.

After a great deal of energy and effort, Amtrak and the Administration put together an eleventh hour deal to avert a shutdown through creative accounting that will increase Amtrak's debt.

Many in congress continue to believe that rather than adding to Amtrak's mountain of debt, congress should provide the funding needed to maintain passenger rail service. And that is the deal that the House and Senate had agreed to, until the White House stepped in to scuttle the deal.

By cutting Amtrak funding, this administration seems determined to put passenger rail service right back into bankruptcy. If the Administration continues to keep Amtrak on a starvation budget, then passenger rail service will truly 'whither on the vine.'"