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neroden

New committee leadership in the House

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Congress already was refusing to go along with cuts to Amtrak or to public transit.  But with Democrats controlling the House, I think we have an even better chance of making progress on improving things.  In the transportation committee as a whole, and the highways & transit committee, the Democratic delegation has generally been more helpful.  And specifically, the likely new committee and subcommittee chairs are almost certain to be more helpful.

Transportation Committee: most likely new chair is Peter DeFazio, Oregon (longtime very serious supporter of passenger rail)

Highways and Transit subcommittee:  most likely new chair is Eleanor Holmes Norton, DC (big public transit supporter); if they want someone who actually has voting rights on the floor (sigh), it might be Jerrold Nadler, NY, who's also a great advocate.

Railroads,Pipelines subcommittee: Unclear, since Capuano was knocked off by Ayanna Pressley, who probably won't be on the committee and certainly won't have seniority.  I don't see an obvious candidate for the new subcommittee leadership.

 

It's also possible that the subcommittees will be reorganized.  This sometimes happens.

 

Anyway, beyond the budget, these committee leaders are the people most likely to grill Amtrak over making dumb choices, and I think we're likely to have people who will listen to the issues better than we did before.

Edited by neroden

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According to some prognosticators Nadler is going to chair the House Judiciary Committee.

Nita Lowey of NY is most likely getting Approps as Freylinghuysen goes off into the sunset. That is likely good for Gateway.

Interestingly, in the outgoing Congress, the Senate was distinctly more friendly towards Amtrak. If that trend continues and there is a complete flip of attitude towards Amtrak in the House as is likely, that would be overall a good thing.

Also, all the change of party of Governors that happened are very much in favor of passenger trains, and the blue to red flip or continuation of red are not hopelessly anti passenger train either as far as I can tell. Hey as long as DeSantis has got his snout sufficiently in the Brightline related infrastructure construction industry trough, he will behave exactly as supportively as Rick Scott did :lol:

Edited by jis

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Senator Tester (D) retained his seat in Montana, which is most likely a good news for the Empire Builder in particular, and Amtrak in general.

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Some interesting tidbit just trickling out:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/live-updates/midterms/midterm-election-updates/hoyer-announces-bid-for-house-majority-leader/?utm_term=.524769c1031b

Apparently Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is going for Speaker of the House, and Steny Hoyer (D-MD) just announced his candidacy for the House Majority Leader. He is the Minority Whip in the outgoing Congress.

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I have been told that it is quite likely my Congressman, Quigley, may chair the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation Housing and Urban Development.   

His articulation on Amtrak issues have been akin to the sort of emphasize high speed corridors/cut long distance rhetoric which we have heard out of Anderson, even from the time before he became president of Amtrak.  (In fact, it has me suspicious over where the movement is really coming from.)

I'm not enthused about the future, and consider this a troubling scenario, if this chairmanship comes to pass, considering the Congressman's insistence that there must be compromises and dissatisfaction with long distance service, of which he doesn't even seem to grasp the value or purpose, as compared to air travel.

 

 

Edited by NorthShore

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My suspicion is that those on the long distance side of the equation who have posited the passenger rail funding as a stark issue of Long Distance vs Corridors have overplayed their hands. They have made themselves a bed that they are now obligated to lie in and they are going to be sorely disappointed. The level of funding that is currently assigned to the LD account will be just about as good as it gets. Corridor funding will be arranged through both FRA and FTA which will continue to far surpass LD funding, and rightfully so. The corridors inevitably will serve way many more people as the continuing trend towards migration to urban centers carries on. It would make sense to develop a more integrated multimodal plan to serve depopulated rural areas using buses and vans that feed into a core rail network, rather than trying to perpetuate the myth of trying to run a train to every village.

 

Edited by jis

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1 hour ago, jis said:

My suspicion is that those on the long distance side of the equation who have posited the passenger rail funding as a stark issue of Long Distance vs Corridors have overplayed their hands. They have made themselves a bed that they are now obligated to lie in and they are going to be sorely disappointed. The level of funding that is currently assigned to the LD account will be just about as good as it gets. Corridor funding will be arranged through both FRA and FTA which will continue to far surpass LD funding, and rightfully so. The corridors inevitably will serve way many more people as the continuing trend towards migration to urban centers carries on. It would make sense to develop a more integrated multimodal plan to serve depopulated rurla areas using buses and vans that feed into a core rail network, rather than trying to perpetuate the myth of trying to ru a train to every village.

 

This!

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On 11/7/2018 at 11:48 AM, jis said:

According to some prognosticators Nadler is going to chair the House Judiciary Committee.

If I remember how the House works, that wouldn't stop him from having a subcommittee chairmanship on another committee if he wanted it -- he's very senior.  Though actually all of the Democratic Highways & Transit subcommittee membership looks good.  I would, however, expect the Dems to reorganize the subcommittees since the current organization makes no sense unless you're trying to attack public transportation.

Edited by neroden

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In regards to policy and funding, I'm just going to repeat my view that the Lake Shore Limited is a better "corridor" route than most state supported corridors, and I hope there's some way to get this through the heads of someone in power eventually.  At this point I think the Sunset Limited is a lost cause, with nonexistent political support.  But most of the other so-called long-distance trains, with their massive downtown stops in million-plus-population cities, are better corridors than, say, the Downeaster.

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15 hours ago, neroden said:

In regards to policy and funding, I'm just going to repeat my view that the Lake Shore Limited is a better "corridor" route than most state supported corridors, and I hope there's some way to get this through the heads of someone in power eventually.  At this point I think the Sunset Limited is a lost cause, with nonexistent political support.  But most of the other so-called long-distance trains, with their massive downtown stops in million-plus-population cities, are better corridors than, say, the Downeaster.

Yeah, the Lake Shore is funny because it's pretty direct and quick, yet somehow serves a ton of stations and a bunch of different regions. From what I've seen, the LSL has a pretty unusually high number of short distance passengers on an LD train.

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So, Transpo committee is looking good.  DeFazio is chairman (as expected once Nadler took another committee).   DeFazio is exactly who we want in charge.  I still await the subcommittee infor.

 

Sam Graves is the ranking Republican -- like most Republicans, he has a nasty record of anti-Amtrak and anti-rail votes.  Howevever, his district covers the Southwest Chief between Kansas City and Fort Madison, including La Plata, so he can be pressured.  He's mostly an aviation fan, being a private plane pilot.

Edited by neroden

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