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Castle Sends Letter to Budget Committee with 26 Other Republican Members Calling for Adequate Funding

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Castle Sends Letter to Budget Committee with 26 Other Republican Members Calling for Adequate Funding

Feb. 16th, 2006

Washington, D.C. -- Delaware Congressman Mike Castle, a co-chair of the House Passenger Rail Caucus, today sent a letter, along with 26 other Republican members of the House of Representatives to the Chairman of the House Budget Committee regarding the Administration's unrealistic funding request for Amtrak in FY 2007. In 2005, a similar letter to the Budget Chairman was signed by 21 Republicans. In light of rising gas prices and increasingly congested highways, today's letter signed by 27 Republicans reflects growing support for America's passenger rail system.

In the letter, the Members expressed their support for sufficient funding for Amtrak, citing the importance of a safe and dependable national passenger rail system.

The letter is copied below:

February 16, 2006

The Honorable Jim Nussle
Chairman
Committee on the Budget
309 CHOB
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Nussle:

We are writing to express our support for adequate funding to sustain and improve Amtrak's national passenger rail system in the fiscal year 2007 Budget Resolution.

While the President's FY07 budget request for Amtrak is a significant step forward in providing sufficient funding for passenger rail, we are concerned that this funding proposal would leave the rail system incapable of providing effective service for its 25 million annual passengers. Department of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta has emphasized the importance of reforming Amtrak's level of performance, and we agree that improving the safety and reliability of intercity passenger rail should be among our top transportation priorities.

In 2005, the Department of Transportation's Inspector General concluded that the "status quo" option for Amtrak is unsustainable and recommended that federal funding for Amtrak should rise from a suggested level of $1.6 billion in FY06 to an annual level of $2.0 billion in FY10. The Inspector General also noted that the postponement of maintenance on the Northeast Corridor and in other critical areas of the country significantly increases the risk of a serious accident on Amtrak's network.

Last year, both the House and the Senate overwhelmingly voted to support Amtrak, and the final FY06 Transportation Appropriations bill provided $1.3 billion for our national passenger rail system. Today, as Americans face rising energy prices and increasingly overcrowded highways, it is crucial that our government invest in an effective national passenger rail network.

We share the Administration's goal of developing a stronger intercity passenger rail system and we ask that your Committee provide sufficient funding for Amtrak in the FY07 Budget Resolution. Passenger rail plays a critical role in our nation's transportation system and it is essential that we ensure the safety and dependability of this transportation option.

Please consider our request for adequate funding for Amtrak in preparing the Budget Resolution. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

LaTourette, Castle, Fitzpatrick, Kuhl, Schwarz, Bachus, T. Johnson, Platts, Simmons, Foley, Gerlach, Boehlert, Sweeney, Leach, P. King, English, Saxton, Weldon, Ferguson, Turner, C. Smith, LoBiondo, Walsh, Rehberg, Kelly, Ney, Weller

http://www.house.gov/castle/pr_06_amtrakletter.html

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