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Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

TRANSPORTATION, TREASURY, HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, THE JUDICIARY, THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, AND INDEPENDENT AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2006 -- (House of Representatives - June 29, 2005)

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AMENDMENT OFFERED BY MR. LATOURETTE

Mr. LaTOURETTE. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

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Mr. REHBERG. Mr. Chairman, I too recognize the difficult position that the Appropriations Committee has been put in with the cost of Amtrak and the ongoing costs. I just caution the Members of this body that there are States like myself. I represent an entire State. The distance of my district spans the distance of Washington, DC, to Chicago. Our cities were not established in Montana because of rivers and a port. We were established because of the rail. Rail in Montana is not an essential service; it is a critical service. In many cases, we have good bus service. It just does not happen to be in the area where Amtrak is. We have good air service. Unfortunately, it just does not happen to be in the area where the rail is. And so, in our particular case, where you have a large geographical area with very little population, it becomes a critical service to provide not only our products but our passengers as well.

The Empire Builder in Montana has as many as 500,000 people traveling on it. Do we recognize it is subsidized? Yes, we do. But I do not think the founding fathers and I do not think this Congress ever intended it to be run entirely like a business. We want good quality service. We want a cheap price. The problem is there cannot be competition because you cannot set up a rail next to the other. You cannot have two railroads competing against each other. So Amtrak is one of those entities that cannot entirely be run like a business. And so I hope you have listened to the gentleman from Ohio's amendment because what it does is it lays the foundation of implementing the beginning of a reform initiative within Amtrak that will make it run more like a business. It can be supported, and ultimately, we will have the rail service in States like Montana and the rest of the long lines that are so critical within our transportation system. I hope you will support the amendment.

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