Happening Now

Vote on "Kill Amtrak" Bill Delayed Until Next Week

November 3, 2023

After pushback on cuts to Amtrak, House Majority Leadership has delayed a vote on HR 4820 until Monday evening, at the earliest.

Rail Passengers Association had a busy week working to kill a bill in the House of Representatives that, if passed into law, would end Amtrak service across America. The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2024(H.R. 4820) includes a 64 percent cut to Amtrak compared to last year’s funding levels, along with an 85 percent reduction to the Federal Transit Administration’s main capitalization program.

While a vote on H.R. 4820 was originally scheduled for this week, the House Majority announced yesterday that it has been delayed until Monday evening at the earliest—potentially a sign that our advocacy efforts are having an effect!

“[This bill threatens] the elimination of Amtrak service for hundreds of cities and small towns across the U.S.,” warned Rail Passengers Association President Jim Mathews in a letter sent to every member of Congress as part of that effort. “Many of the rural communities Amtrak serves don’t even have access to intercity bus transportation, much less a regional airport. Rail Passengers Association modeling suggests that Amtrak’s interconnected services in the Northeast Corridor, the long-distance National Network and the dozens of State-supported Amtrak routes together return between $7 billion and $8 billion each year to our Nation’s GDP—four times what we typically invest in the service.”

We asked you to speak up for Amtrak and commuter rail, and you answered! Almost 800 messages were delivered to Members of the U.S. House over the past few days. There’s still time to call your Representative in the U.S. House and ask them to “Vote ‘NO’ on H.R. 4820”!

There’s still time to act! You can use Rail Passengers’ online advocacy platform to find your Representative, get their direct number, and receive helpful talking points. Or you can call the Capitol switchboard directly at (202) 224-3121.

Northeast Corridor in the Spotlight

While normally these sorts of threats center on National Network service, H.R. 4820 saves its sharpest knives for the Northeast Corridor (NEC), with a 92 percent reduction in funds to the NEC. Disrupting service on the busiest rail corridor in the western hemisphere – which, in addition to Amtrak passengers, carries 780,000 commuters from eight commuter railroads every weekday – would do massive harm to the entire U.S. economy.

That provision has drawn a sharp bipartisan reaction from elected officials in the northeast, with many Republicans joining colleagues across the aisle to defend these essential services. Republican Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), Marc Molinaro (NY), Mike Lawler (NY), Andrew Garbarino (NY), and Nick LaLota (NY) all sponsored amendments protesting cuts to rail programs. They were joined by Midwestern Republican Rep. Don Bacon (NE), who co-sponsored a bipartisan amendment to restore Amtrak funding that was ultimately ruled out-of-order by the House Rules Committee.

“On behalf of America’s passengers, we want to thank these Republican Members of Congress for their leadership,” said Mathews. “They’ve demonstrated independence and good judgment in fighting back against these radical cuts to rail funding. They’ve also shown they have the courage to do the right thing on behalf of their constituents, even if it means standing up to leaders in their own party.”

The parliamentary rules the bill is being considered under restrict these amendments to largely symbolic protests. However, they seem to be having the intended effect on the House Majority Leadership, who announced last night they would delay the vote on H.R. 4820 until next week.

“Some people want to cut more, other people are worried that we cut too much, or they’ve got particular concerns, Amtrak concerns,” said Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), who heads the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation.

The House will reconvene on Monday, Nov. 6 at 6:00 PM Eastern. That means there’s still time to make your voice heard! Tell your Representative to vote ‘NO’ on the Amtrak-killing bill, H.R. 4820!

Fact Sheet

The cuts included in H.R. 4820 will:

  • Negatively impact as many as 20 million passengers nationwide;
  • Endanger tens of thousands of operating, construction, and manufacturing jobs, with initial estimates indicating 10,000 Amtrak employees alone could be furloughed or separated due to lack of funding; and
  • Halt work on scores of state-sponsored transit and intercity rail infrastructure projects that will benefit tens of millions of Americans.

Amendment Tracker [updated Nov. 2, 12:37 PM Eastern]:

15. Molinaro (NY), Lawler (NY), LaLota (NY) #55 Symbolic amendment that increases then decreases funding for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant program by $100 million to highlight the importance of CRISI in advancing railroad safety. (Debate: 10 minutes)

*RPA Position: SUPPORT*

16. Garbarino (NY), LaLota (NY) #88 (REVISED) Symbolic amendment that increases then decreases funding for Amtrak Northeast Corridor funding by $1,160,769,000 to highlight its importance for the continued operation, maintenance, and economic success of the NEC. (Debate: 10 minutes)

*RPA Position: SUPPORT*

17. Lawler (NY) #159 (LATE) (REVISED) Symbolic amendment that increases then decreases funding for the Amtrak Northeast Corridor (NEC) with the intent of supporting the need for robust rail funding to modernize our passenger rail network. (Debate: 10 minutes)

*RPA Position: SUPPORT*

18. Lawler (NY) #160 (LATE) (REVISED) Symbolic amendment that increases then decreases funding for the Amtrak National Network with the intent of supporting the need for robust rail funding to modernize our passenger rail network. (Debate: 10 minutes)

*RPA Position: SUPPORT*

19. Molinaro (NY) #56 Symbolic amendment that increases then decreases the Amtrak account to emphasis the importance of Amtrak to expeditiously advance ADA compliance at stations and on trains. (Debate: 10 minutes)

*RPA Position: SUPPORT*

20. Perry (PA) #132 Zeroes out Amtrak's National Network grant, eliminating all State Supported and Long Distance service. (Debate: 10 minutes)

*RPA Position: OPPOSED*

22. Perry (PA) #100 Reduces Transit Infrastructure Grant funding to $0. (Debate: 10 minutes)

*RPA Position: OPPOSED*

23. Perry (PA) #75 Zeroes out funding for the Federal Transit Administration's Capital Investment Grants program, an important funding source for projects that upgrade and expand heavy rail, commuter rail, light rail, streetcars, and bus rapid transit systems across the U.S. (Debate: 10 minutes)

*RPA Position: OPPOSED*

25. Perry (PA) #78 Zeroes out funding for Grants to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. (Debate: 10 minutes)

*RPA Position: OPPOSED*