House rejects effort to divert funding from new projects to railroad safety

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House rejects N.J. Rep. Garrett’s effort to divert funding to railroad safety

By Jonathan D. Salant, NJ Advance Media for The Star-Ledger, June 05, 2015 at 9:33 AM

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House on Thursday rejected an effort by Rep. Scott Garrett to use some money earmarked for new transit projects to improve safety on existing lines instead.

By a vote of 266-160, the House defeated Garrett’s attempt to amend the transportation spending bill and transfer $17 million to the Federal Railroad Administration’s safety account from the funds earmarked for new construction.

“You wouldn’t put an addition on your house if the roof was caving in,” said Garrett (R-5th Dist.). “So why are we prioritizing new transit projects before funding the safety of our existing lines?”

Garrett’s amendment was supposed by three other members of the state’s congressional delegation, Reps. Tom MacArthur (R-3rd Dist.), Leonard Lance (R-7th Dist.) and Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11th Dist.). The other eight House members from New Jersey voted no.

“Just this year we have seen two oil train derailments and over a dozen Amtrak-related accidents, including the tragic crash in Philadelphia that claimed eight lives and injured dozens more,” Garrett said. “I am disappointed that the House ignored the call of our constituents by voting against this common-sense amendment.”

The transportation spending bill for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 cuts Amtrak funding by $251 million to $1.14 billion. President Obama sought $2.45 billion.

The measure passed the Republican-led House Appropriations Committee one day after the May 12 Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia that killed eight people and injured more than 200.