Less than 24 hours after an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia, killing at least seven and injuring 50 more, House Republicans voted to approve a funding cut to Amtrak’s budget by about a fifth.
The cuts were attacked by Democrats for its “badly misplaced priorities,” which would potentially be contributing to the country’s longstanding infrastructure problem. Steve Israel went so far as to tell Congress that “last night we failed them.” Israel continued:
It’s not just our trains. It is our bridges that are failing. It is our highways that are congested and riddled with potholes. It is our runways, our airports. … We are divesting from America in this committee.... It defies the interests of the American people.
Meanwhile, Republicans dismissed the claims that a lack of funding had any affect on the derailments and even accused Democrats of using the tragedy as an opportunity to further an agenda for... safer infrastructure, I guess. How dare they?
While the cut in funding would not affect the trains’ safety and operations budgets, that also means it wouldn’t have a chance of being increased, something it desperately needs. According to the NTSB, necessary safety systems aren’t as wide-spread as they should be.
NTSB: Amtrak has a system called Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement, however it is NOT installed in this area. System would have slowed train.May 13, 2015
And while we don’t know what caused the accident, the fact that precautions that could have been taken weren’t is troubling in itself. The bill will still need to clear the Senate, though, where it should hopefully have a much tougher time getting through.