ONE MORE TIME AROUND
Saturday, January 17, 1998
Subject: When you think it has calmed down
HERE WE GO AGAIN
A front page report in the New York Times yesterday says that six U.S.
Senators are accusing President Clinton of backtracking on his earlier
pledges of support for Amtrak. The six Senators, Republicans and Democrats
from the northeast, sent an angry letter to the White House denouncing the
President's proposed budget that would reportedly cut off all federal
operating subsidies for Amtrak.
The six Senators include Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Daniel Patrick Moynihan
(D-NY), John Kerry (D-MA), Joseph Biden (D-DE), William Roth (R-DE) and
John Chafee (R-RI). In the letter the Senators said that the Clinton proposal,
if enacted, would leave Amtrak "woefully short of money and unable to continue
operating as planned" and would undermine efforts "to keep Amtrak from going
bankrupt." Amtrak spokesman Cliff Black said eliminating operating subsidies would lead to
widespread layoffs and cutbacks in service.
However, White House press secretary Mike McCurry told reporters, "Everything
that I've been led to believe indicates there will be substantial operating
subsidies and substantial capital investments for Amtrak in the budget the
president will propose in February."
In a related development, the following is a press statement from UTU (United
Transportation Union) National Legislative Director, J. M. Brunkenhoefer:
"Well, President Clinton's advisors have rolled out the "blue smoke and
mirrors" again. Some Republicans want to kill Amtrak outright and now some
Presidential advisors want to play games with the numbers so that Amtrak will
starve to death for lack of operating money. Either way, Amtrak would die.
Thousands of our members' jobs would be lost and railroad retirement would be
threatened. Why? Because some at the White House want to play theoretical
games. They want to play a flim flam shell game that moves the numbers
around so that the numbers look good on paper but there is no money.
Here We Go Again)
"Call John Podesta, Deputy Chief of Staff at the White House,
If you can't reach him, call Karen Tremontano at the same number. Tell them
to keep their commitments to Amtrak. It is time for our members to stop
worrying about their jobs. It is time for our retirees to stop worrying
about their pensions. It is time to stop worrying the public about the
continuation of Amtrak service. I think it is horrible, after what we all
went through last year in Congress, to see a few people in the White House
try to break the deal. Call the White House. Tell them to keep their word."
Let the White House know how you feel.
CALL (202) 456-1414
SAVE AMTRAK ! [again]
Thanks to Craig O'Connell for his assistance in getting the news out quickly.
Without comment (note Hutchinson and Lott's support of Amtrak about The White
House Bulletin - 1/21/98).
Amtrak and Transportation Budget Questions On The Hill.
Body: Rumors that the White House is looking to end Amtrak subsidies were
met by a loud chorus of objectors late last week, and the Administration's position
remains unclear. Six angry northeastern senators fired off a letter to
President Clinton Thursday saying cutting the subsidy would threaten the
future of the passenger rail service. One source familiar with the situation
told the Bulletin that while the Administration's final budget numbers are
still unknown, he said that what was in last week's letter from the concerned
senators "speaks the truth. " The White House has continued to say it
supports Amtrak and continued funding, but a source close to situation said,
"that's fine. But the question is where's the money gonna come from?
Is it gonna be an appropriations for operating support or are they gonna
recommend it coming out of the $2.3 (billion capital fund). "
Another letter was sent by Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Majority Leader
Trent Lott to President Clinton late Friday arguing that the $2.3 billion set
off for capital improvements cannot be used for operating expenses. "As you
know, use of this money in such a manner would be a serious violation of the
statutory stipulations Congress placed on those funds. Amtrak does not have
the legal authority to utilize these funds for any purpose except capital
expenditures. " Lott and Hutchison added: "We made this point abundantly clear
during last year's negotiations between Amtrak and the Brotherhood
Maintenance-of-Way-Engineers. " The Amtrak board of directors issued a statement
late Friday after their "regularly scheduled meeting " saying the Board
"reconfirmed the railroad's continued need for adequate Federal support.
" Amtrak Vice Chair Don Pease said, "Amtrak's operating challenge
over the next few years is as great as ever, even with the $2.3 billion in
capital approved last year as part of the Taxpayer Relief Act. "
There is also concern on Capitol Hill over ISTEA legislation in the House.
While ISTEA is said to be high on the leadership agendas in both Houses, a
spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott indicated yesterday he is
unsure when the measure will make it to the Senate floor.
Thanks to "email@example.com" for the timely information.
E N D
LETTER FROM SENATORS
Last Updated 01/23/98 22:06 hrs. EST
INDEX OF RECENT UPDATES
Week of 12/05/97
CLINTON SIGNS BILL
Summary of Provisions
Week of 11/21/97
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