The bullet train receives a last-minute push from lawmakers and lobbyists as Congress debates how to revamp the country’s infrastructure.
The House Transport and Infrastructure Committee put forward a $ 547 billion infrastructure bill last week that would provide $ 25 billion for high-speed rail projects. On Friday, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transport presented an accompanying bill providing for the financing of similar projects.
But unlike the Senate bill, House legislation does not allow private rail companies to receive federal funding. The omission sparked a lobbying campaign by companies to build some of the country’s first high-speed railways.
Businesses, unions and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are now rallying to an amendment from Rep. Dina TitusAlice (Dina) Costandina TitusShakespeare is heard by Congress as part of this year’s ‘Will on the Hill’ Lawmakers introduce legislation to defend pipelines from cyber threats House Democrats introduce bill to fight diversity at the Department of State PLUS (D-Nev.) Which would allow private companies to receive federal grants when they partner with state or local governments on the bullet train.
The measure could free up significant funds for Brightline, the country’s only operating private passenger railroad. The company is building a high-speed railroad connecting Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
“The high-speed train from Las Vegas to southern California would reduce traffic, decrease air pollution and boost southern Nevada’s economy,” Titus told The Hill. âWith the Brightline West project, we have a unique opportunity to demonstrate that high speed rail can work in this country. “
Titus said she would work with the chairman of the House transport and infrastructure committee Peter DeFazioModerates Peter Anthony DeFazioHouse unveil .25T infrastructure plan this week: Democrats set to start chaotic three-week sprint Biden rejects new GOP offer as spending talks drag MORE (D-Ore.) To incorporate provisions of his measure into a Director’s Amendment before the bill is returned to the House.
The effort occurs more than two months after President BidenJoe Biden Former representative Rohrabacher says he participated in the Jan.6 march to Capitol Hill but did not storm building Saudis picked up drugs in Cairo used to kill Khashoggi: Biden report seeks to create momentum for Putin PLUS reunion released its $ 2.3 trillion U.S. Jobs Plan, an infrastructure proposal that provides $ 80 billion to expand and improve railways, though industry experts say the money will be primarily devoted to updating existing Amtrak lines rather than building new high-speed rail projects.
While large parts of Europe and Asia are covered by high speed rail lines, the United States does not have trains that go fast enough to be considered âhigh speedâ.
A bipartisan group of 10 senators – five Democrats and five Republicans – recently reached an agreement on a framework for an infrastructure proposal smaller than Biden’s, but it is not clear whether the bullet train would secure funding .
Brightline CEO Michael Reininger told reporters last week his company would not let infrastructure negotiations go through without “seizing the opportunity” to secure federal funding that would “activate” billions of dollars in private investments for the high-speed train.
âWe think this might motivate the private sector to step aside and get in the game,â Reininger said.
Brightline increased its lobbying spending by 80% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period last year. The company retains nine lobbyists at three Washington firms, including former Transportation Department assistant George Riccardo and former representative. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenBottom line Bottom line Democrats elect Meeks as first black foreign president MORE (R-Fla.), Who supported Florida’s Brightline Railroad between Miami and West Palm Beach as lawmaker.
Politicians have stressed the need for private sector involvement following high profile failures. The California high-speed train connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles was supposed to be in operation by 2020, but countless delays pushed its start date back to 2029. Last week, the Biden administration confirmed it would reinstate 929 million dollars in funding for the project which was suspended by the Trump administration.
California Treasurer Fiona Ma (D) cited the struggling project in a recent letter to lawmakers urging them to provide an avenue for public-private partnerships on bullet train projects.
âTo be clear, a repeated effort that spends billions without putting new lines up and running after another decade will be the death of the bullet train in America,â Ma wrote to lawmakers last week. “It’s just impossible for the public to continue supporting such a program without seeing tangible results – and after two hugely expensive apple bites, could you really blame them?” “
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has also urged lawmakers to provide federal grants to public-private rail projects.
Federal grants would boost other high-speed train proposals, including Texas Central, which aims to connect Dallas and Houston in less than 90 minutes. The company has nine lobbyists in Washington, including Jim Kolb, who served as the Democrats’ director of personnel on the House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee on highways and transit for seven years.
The federal grant program would be administered by the Secretary of Transportation Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegButtigieg: Biparty infrastructure deal ‘strongly preferred’ NIGHT ENERGY: Biden ends infrastructure talks with key Republican | Colonial Pipeline CEO Blasted Over Ransomware Attack | Texas government signs bills to improve electricity grid after winter storm Biden ends infrastructure talks with key Republican MORE, who said he wanted the United States to be the world leader in high-speed trains. Biden, who as a senator earned the nickname “Amtrak Joe” for his frequent train journeys between Washington and his home state of Delaware, pledged to build a national rail network.
representative Seth MoultonSeth Moulton Biparty lawmakers press Biden to ‘immediately’ evacuate Afghans who aided US forces Gosar is the Republican Democrats want to avoid Labor Secretary faces Democrats’ questions in chief of staff controversy PLUS font (D-Mass.), Who briefly served as CEO of Texas Central before running for Congress, was one of many lawmakers who expressed support for Titus’ amendment during a markup of committee last week.
âHow do we pay for the high speed train? It’s easy compared to the alternative, âsaid Moulton. âWe don’t just have to use federal dollars, we can also use private dollars. This amendment allows it. And that’s exactly what we need to do.
Last month Moulton released a plan to spend $ 205 billion on a national high-speed rail network, a proposal industry experts don’t expect to win in Washington.
Moulton is one of 23 lawmakers who asked the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to fund a $ 105 billion high-speed rail system stretching from New York to Boston. Supporters of the North Atlantic Rail proposal first hired lobbyists in April in an effort to secure infrastructure funding.
Lawmakers did not include funding for the North Atlantic rail plan in the transport bill that advanced in committee last week, so supporters will now seek funding in the amendment. of the manager. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Pelosi New Mexico Democrat Stansbury was sworn in at Haaland’s former headquarters. Greene Apologizes For Comparing Vaccine Rules To Overnight Holocaust Health Care: Biden Advocates For More People To Get Vaccinated | Harris Highlights Safety Of COVID-19 Vaccination | Novavax COVID-19 vaccine found to be very effective in PLUS trial (D-Calif.) Said she wanted to bring the freight bill upstairs to the house by July 4.