(Mr. SIRES asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute.)
Mr. SIRES. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to oppose the privatization of Amtrak, which would threaten reliable, dependable, and accessible passenger rail service throughout the United States. I travel home every weekend on Amtrak to my district in New Jersey, and its service is an essential part of our region's economic vitality.
Under the plan to privatize Amtrak, the essential service they provide to millions of passengers could be lost, and nearly 20,000 Amtrak jobs could be eliminated. State-owned infrastructure that Amtrak currently maintains could be turned over to the already deficit-burdened States to maintain. It is likely that station stops will be cut and that commuter rail services will bear increased costs. Additionally, freight railroads that currently use Amtrak-supported lines may face logistical problems if Amtrak becomes privatized.
Under the proposal to privatize Amtrak, many important labor provisions will be eliminated. Future railroad employees will be exempt from disability, pension, retirement, and unemployment benefits. By removing future employees from these benefit systems, current and retired employees will be negatively affected, and railroads will face increased taxes to maintain the solvency of these systems.
I urge my colleagues to oppose the privatization of Amtrak.