The Amtrak bill that would solicit private sector proposals to build a high speed rail link between DC and NY passed the House on Tuesday. Gannett News reports that the 227-187 margin fell short of the majority required to override a Bush veto.
In addition to providing Amtrak operating subsidies over five years, the measure seeks to boost investment in high-speed rail.
It also calls for opening up the Washington-to-Boston route and 10 others across the country to private competitors — something Democrats such as Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey strongly oppose.
Though President Bush likes the bill’s privatization proposal, he rejects boosting funding for passenger rail if Amtrak isn’t held more accountable and doesn’t change the way it does business, the White House said in a statement explaining the veto threat.
Lautenberg, meanwhile, co-wrote an $11.4 billion Amtrak bill that passed the Senate 70-22 in October.
House and Senate negotiators have to come up with a compromise bill, which would then have to pass Congress and win Bush's signature to become law.
In other news, Governor Paterson announced his appointments to a commission on MTA financing. Richard Ravitch, former head of the MTA, will chair the commission. Appointees include MTA CEO Lee Sander, developer Douglas Durst, Con Ed chair Kevin Burke, and former Port Authority director Peter Goldmark. Excerpts from a press statement:
Governor David A. Paterson today appointed 12 members to the Commission on Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Financing, to be chaired by former MTA Chairman Richard Ravitch. The Commission is charged with recommending strategies to fund MTA capital projects and operating needs over the next ten years, a period when the Authority will be under unprecedented financial pressure as it expands its system and rebuilds its core infrastructure to provide the additional capacity needed to allow the region to grow. Governor Paterson announced in April that Richard Ravitch would head the Commission in wake of the failure of the congestion pricing proposal, which would have provided an additional revenue stream to the MTA….More here.