The White House on Monday warned that investments in infrastructure across the United States will be in jeopardy if a bill proposed by congressional Republicans becomes law.
“House Republicans are turning their backs on their communities—both urban and rural—and undermining American infrastructure with an appropriations bill that guts funding for Amtrak and makes draconian cuts to transportation and infrastructure programs,” the White House said in a statement.
The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act was introduced in the House by Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) on Nov. 2. The bill sets out the levels of funding for multiple federal agencies for the 2024 fiscal year.
Funding for Amtrak would be cut by $1 billion under the Republican proposal, which the White House said would reduce the frequency of train travel along the Northeast Corridor. The corridor is the most-traveled section of railroad in the country, stretching from Boston through Philadelphia to Washington, D.C.
According to Amtrak data, the workforce that relies on train travel along the Northeast Corridor contributes $50 billion to the gross domestic product of the U.S. each year. Additionally, Amtrak said that a single day of lost service along the corridor would cost the U.S. economy $100 million.
The bill would cut funding to the federal Capital Investment Program, which funds local transportation projects. The White House said the bill would also reduce funding for air travel infrastructure, leading to increased flight delays and cancellations.
President Joe Biden threatened to veto the bill in its current form in an Oct. 30 statement. In that release, the administration noted that the proposed bill deviates from the level of spending that Biden negotiated with then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy that was signed into law in June.
The warning about proposed cuts came on the same day that Biden announced $16.4 billion in new funding for passenger rail projects along the Northeast Corridor as part of his Investing in America agenda. The White House described the funding as key to Biden’s “vision for world-class passenger rail.” The funding will go to 25 projects, including replacement of the Frederick Douglass Tunnel in Maryland, repairs to Penn Station in New York City, and a project to rehabilitate and expand the Hudson River Tunnel between New York and New Jersey.
Biden has said that he logged over 1 million miles in rail travel on Amtrak in his regular commute between Delaware and Washington during his 36 years as a U.S. senator.
A project to reconstruct the Cornwells Heights Station in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, will be funded up to $30.5 million. New 600-foot high-level platforms will be built at the location, along with an accessible pedestrian overpass. The Department of Transportation said the improvements would increase safety and accessibility for passengers riding on Amtrak’s Keystone Service and SEPTA’s Trenton Line.
Funds will come from the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that Biden signed into law, which includes a total of $66 billion for rail investments.According to a fact sheet released by the White House in February, Pennsylvania is slated to receive a total of $6.2 billion from the infrastructure law for transportation projects including rail, road, and bridge repair and construction.