Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Which Democrats Just Voted to Cut Amtrak Funding by $251M?

Yesterday, late at night, the House passed its FY 2016 Appropriations bill for the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies.

The bill cut $251 million from Amtrak's budget and drained funds from capital investment in infrastructure and public housing:
Despite the increase in overall funding from FY 2015, the bill makes several severe cuts to critical transportation and infrastructure programs and investments.  It cuts Amtrak’s funding by $251 million and includes none of the $825 million requested by the President for Positive Train Control. It provides $1.9 billion in funding for the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grant Program, a cut of $198.6 million and $1.32 billion below the President’s request.  It also cuts funding for the Federal Aviation Administration’s modernization program by $100 million.
The bill also makes several cuts to housing programs. It reduces the Public Housing Capital Fund by $194 million below the FY 2015 level, $289 million below the President’s request, bringing funding for the Capital Fund down to $1.68 billion, $96 million below the FY 2013 sequester level. It also cuts the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative by 67% and flat funds HOME grants at $900 million – maintaining a reduction in funding of nearly 30% from FY 2013 enacted levels – at the lowest level since the program began in 1992.
The final bill passed narrowly 216 to 210, as 31 Republicans bucked their party leadership to oppose it (most, if not all, of them for the wrong reasons).

However, 3 Democrats voted for it:

Brad Ashford (NE-02)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Gwen Graham (FL-02)

I'll highlight a few noteworthy amendments here--particularly those that relate to trains or the overall bill. I plant to make a separate diary on the housing amendments.

Overall Funding Levels

Marsha Blackburn (TN-07) offered an amendment to reduce every line item in the bill by 1 percent.
It failed 163 to 259.

161 Republicans and 2 Democrats voted for it. 180 Democrats and 79 Republicans voted against it.

The two Democrats were Jim Cooper (TN-05) and Jared Polis (CO-02).


The House rejected a series of Republican amendments to further cut spending on the nation’s train system.

Bill Posey (FL-08) offered three amendments to this effect.

Posey #1: The first would have banned the use of funds by the Department of Transportation to take any actions with respect to the financing of passenger rail projects along Florida's East Coast.
It failed 163 to 260.

1 Democrat voted—Patrick Murphy (FL-18)—for it. 78 Republicans joined the rest of the Democrats in voting against it.

That one Democrat was Patrick Murphy (FL-18).

Posey #2: The second would have prohibited the use of funds by the Department of Transportation to authorize exempt facility bonds to finance passenger rail projects that cannot attain the speed of 150 mph.

It failed 148 to 257.

One Democrat—Patrick Murphy (FL-18)—joined 147 Republicans in voting for it, and 93 Republicans joined the rest of the Democratic caucus in voting against it.

Posey #3: The third would have prohibited the use of funds by the Department of Transportation to make a loan in an amount that exceeds $600 million under the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act.

It failed 134 to 287.

105 Republicans joined Democrats in voting against it.

Pete Sessions (TX-23) offered two such amendments.

Sessions #1: The first would have prohibited the use of funds to support Amtrak’s route with the highest loss, measured by contributions/(Loss) per Rider.

The amendment failed narrowly 205 to 218.

35 Republicans joined Democrats in voting against it.

Sessions #2: The second would have prohibited the use of funds to support any Amtrak route whose costs exceed 2 times its revenues.

This also failed, but less narrowly: 186 to 237.

54 Republicans joined Democrats in voting against it.

Meehan #1: Pat Meehan (PA-07) offered an amendment to prohibit the use of funds for Amtrak capital grants used for projects off the Northeast Corridor until the level of capital spending by Amtrak for capital projects on the Northeast Corridor during fiscal year 2016 equals the amount of Amtrak's profits from Northeast Corridor operations during FY 2015.

It failed 199 to 227.

184 Republicans and 15 Democrats voted for it. 167 Democrats and 60 Republicans voted against it.

Here are those 15 Democrats:

Brendan Boyle (PA-13)
John Carney (DE-AL)
Yvette Clarke (NY-09)
Joe Courtney (CT-02)
Eliot Engel (NY-16)
Elizabeth Esty (CT-05)
Jim Himes (CT-04)
Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08)
Bill Keating (MA-09)
John Larson (CT-01)
Nita Lowey (NY-17)
Stephen Lynch (MA-08)
Gregory Meeks (NY-05)
Grace Meng (NY-06)
Richard Neal (MA-01)

Labor Standards

Keith Ellison (MN-05) offered an amendment to prohibit the use of funds for contracts to entities that have violated the Fair Labor Standards Act.

It failed 182 to 243.

1 Democrat—Rick Larsen (WA-02)—joined the Republicans in voting against it.

1 Republican—Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08)—joined the Democrats in voting for it.

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