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LETTER FROM SENATORS

TO HON. W. CLINTON



TEXT OF LETTER FROM: UTU WEBSITE

UNITED STATES SENATE
WASHINGTON, DC 20510

January 15, 1998

Hon. William J. Clinton
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D,C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:


It has come to our attention that your Administration is strongly considering the submission of a FY99 Budget request that eliminates operating assistance for Amtrak and falls short of the railroad's needs, We are writing to express our deep disappointment at this tentative decision and to express our strong opposition to this recommendation. We hope you will reverse course on the Budget submission before it is unveiled early next month.

The Budget submission as currently crafted would backtrack on the Administration's commitment to submit a request that is consistent with the five year operating plan agreed to by Amtrak, the Department of Transportation, the Amtrak/Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees (BMWE) labor agreement, and Congress. The request, if enacted, would prevent Amtrak from achieving operating self-sufficiency, which is precisely the goal that Congress and the President agreed to in the Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act of 1997. It would also have the affect of undermining our efforts to keep Amtrak from going bankrupt.

A commitment from the Administration and Congress to the five year plan is essential if Amtrak service is to continue. Amtrak must receive specified amounts of operating and capital assistance each year so that it can put the $2.3 billion tax credit to work modernizing its equipment and facilities and thus implement its long-term business plan designed to achieve operating self-sufficiency by 2002. If these commitments are not honored, Amtrak will continue to operate in a constant state of financial and labor crisis. We believe that it is vital for the Administration to request full funding and reject the strategy of diverting the $23 billion in capital funding for operating needs.

Just weeks ago, through the active involvement of Secretary Rodney Slater (as a leading member of the Amtrak Board of Directors), an agreement was reached with the BMWE. The signed agreement includes explicit conditions for future Administration action, including the submissions of budget requests that will include continued operating assistance for Amtrak at specified levels.

With the ink barely dry on this delicately negotiated labor agreement, we understand that a budget is being submitted that radically restructures Amtrak's federal appropriations, eliminating all operating assistance, requiring the railroad to divert desperately needed capital funds for operating costs, leaving the railroad woefully short of money and unable to continue operating as planned.

Despite your recent pledge of support for Amtrak, the proposed budget request creates yet another crisis for Amtrak and its supporters in Congress. We urge you to revise your budget request and fully fund Amtrak for FY99.

Sincerely,

(Signatures not reproduced)

Sen. William V. Roth, Jr.

Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Sen. John H. Chafee

Sen. Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

Sen. John F. Kerry

Sen. James M. Jeffords


Dave Bowe
E N D

Last Updated 12/22/97 12:40 hrs. EST



INDEX OF RECENT UPDATES

CEO REPLACEMENT

DOWNS RESIGNS

Week of 12/05/97

CLINTON SIGNS BILL

Summary of Provisions

Week of 11/21/97



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