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Public Statements

Federal Railroad Safety Improvement Act of 2007

Floor Speech

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Location: Washington, DC


FEDERAL RAILROAD SAFETY IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2007 -- (Senate - September 29, 2008)

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Mr. SPECTER. Mr. President, this legislation is vital for the infrastructure of America. Amtrak provides an indispensable service. Contrary to assertions, there is much in this bill which provides for reform: a greater role for the private sector by allowing private companies to bid and operate underperforming Amtrak routes; requires Amtrak to establish and improve financial accounting; requires Amtrak to consult with the Surface Transportation Board, freight railroads, and the FRA.

Most of all, when the Senator from South Carolina comments about this is an earmark, this is thoughtfully considered legislation by both Houses of the Congress. It has been held up by the technical refusal of some Senators to allow conferees to be reported. But this sort of gives lie to the whole challenge of earmarks as a generalization. Of course, if it is a bridge to nowhere or some provision slipped into a bill by a single Member which does not have any merit, but where you have the Congress of the United States authorized by the Constitution to appropriate, this is thoughtful authorization of funds.

If this is an earmark, then those who condemn earmarks in their totality are absolutely dead wrong and nothing proves it as conclusively as saying that the Amtrak legislation is an earmark, when it has been carefully considered by both Houses of Congress, which is our constitutional responsibility and our constitutional authority.

I urge my colleagues to support this bill.

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