Murray Questions Budget Director Over Amtrak Funding

Apr 21 2005

Budget Director Says Administration will not Support Amtrak Board’s Request


(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, under tough questioning by U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) White House Budget Director Josh Bolten indicated that the Administration would not support the request of the Amtrak Board – all of whom are Bush Administration appointees – for a $1.82 billion federal subsidy to continue passenger rail service across the country.

At a hearing of the Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee of which she is the ranking Democrat, Murray today pressed Bolten to submit a budget amendment to Congress that realistically addresses the funding needs of Amtrak.

The Board’s request for dramatically increased federal dollars – a 50 percent increase over current funding levels – comes two months after they failed to submit a grant request to Congress and despite the fact that the President included no funding for Amtrak in his fiscal year 2006 budget.

The Department of Transportation’s Inspector General also testified today that the current Amtrak system requires an increase of between $200 million and $300 million above current funding levels.

In light of today’s request by the Amtrak Board, Murray asked Bolten if the Administration would submit a new funding request to Congress.

Murray: “Mr. Bolten, now that the Board of Directors, made up entirely by the President’s appointees, has articulated a funding request to the Congress, is OMB prepared to submit a funding request to Congress for Amtrak?”

Bolten: “Senator Murray, we have submitted a funding request –”

Murray: “For zero…”

Murray: “So, you’ll not endorse the $1.82 billion that [the Amtrak Board] is asking for?”

Bolten: “No, I will not, Senator.”