BLE fighting for Amtrak bonding authority

CLEVELAND, February 1, 2001 -- The BLE is leading an effort to win co-sponsors for a bipartisan Senate bill, which would provide funding for high speed rail investment.

Senators Joseph Biden (D-Del.) and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-Texas) introduced the bill yesterday. The BLE State Legislative Board Chairmen are already at work actively lobbying members of the Senate who have not yet signed on to support the measure.

The new plan would allow Amtrak to raise $12 billion over the next decade by issuing high-speed rail bonds. The federal government would provide tax credits to bondholders, in lieu of paying interest.

The money would pay for initial work to upgrade 11 designated high-speed rail corridors throughout the country, which would carry passenger trains at speeds exceeding 90 mph. Participating states must pay 20 percent of the cost.

The legislation could have some powerful opponents in Senators Phil Gramm (R-Tex), and John McCain (R-Ariz). McCain's objections in particular blocked passage of the legislation in the last Congress.

Amtrak, which has been granted more than $23 billion in federal subsidies since its creation in 1971, is under orders from Congress to become self-sufficient by 2003 or risk being liquidated.

BLE members are urged to call the following Senators who have not yet signed on to support the bill:

Akaka, Daniel (D - HI)
Allard, Wayne (R - CO)
Allen, George (R - VA)
Bayh, Evan (D - IN)
Bennett, Robert (R - UT)
Bingaman, Jeff (D - NM)
Bond, Christopher (R - MO)
Brownback, Sam (R - KS)
Bunning, Jim (R - KY)
Campbell, Ben Nighthorse (R - CO)
Cantwell, Maria (D - WA)
Carnahan, Jean (D - MO)
Conrad, Kent (D - ND)
Craig, Larry (R - ID)
Crapo, Mike (R - ID)
Dayton, Mark (D - MN)
Domenici, Pete (R - NM)
Ensign, John (R - NV)
Enzi, Mike (R - WY)
Fitzgerald, Peter (R - IL)
Frist, William (R - TN)
Gramm, Phil (R - TX)
Grassley, Chuck (R - IA)
Gregg, Judd (R - NH)
Hagel, Charles (R - NE)
Harkin, Tom (D - IA)
Hatch, Orrin (R - UT)
Hutchinson, Tim (R - AR)
Inhofe, James (R - OK)
Kyl, Jon (R - AZ)
Lugar, Richard (R - IN)
McCain, John (R - AZ)
McConnell, Mitch (R - KY)
Murkowski, Frank (R - AK)
Nelson, Ben (D - NE)
Nelson, Bill (D - FL)
Nickles, Don (R - OK)
Reed, Jack (D - RI)
Roberts, Pat (R - KS)
Sessions, Jeff (R - AL)
Shelby, Richard (R - AL)
Smith, Bob (R - NH)
Smith, Gordon (R - OR)
Stevens, Ted (R - AK)
Thomas, Craig (R - WY)
Thompson, Fred (R - TN)
Thurmond, Strom (R - SC)
Voinovich, George (R - OH)
Wyden, Ron (D - OR)
Click here for phone numbers and email addresses of Senators

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February 1, 2001

2001 Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers