Democratic Congress members are pushing for an increase in funding for high-speed rail in President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure package. The current proposal includes an $80 billion investment in rail projects, although experts say most of that would go to update existing Amtrak lines versus new investments in rail.
Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Seth Moulton, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand are pushing Congress to increase the funding.
“Rail is climate infrastructure,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “For every buck that we’re going to put into a car and a bridge, we want to put a buck into a rail. We want equity. That’s what we’re here to demand.”
The lawmakers established a high-speed rail coalition and includes the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the U.S. High Speed Rail Association.
“We’re the strongest, greatest economy in the world when it comes to entrepreneurialism and when it comes to innovation, and we should never be ceding that leadership anywhere in the world,” Sen. Gillibrand said.
A $547 billion transportation bill was passed in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee last week. $25 billion of the bill will be used toward high-speed rail projects.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to bring the transportation bill to the house floor before July 4.
The lawmakers believe that high-speed rail will reduce the United States carbon footprint and create jobs.
“The rest of the world is racing to build high-speed rail because they know it is a smart investment,” Moulton said. “Building it in America will open opportunities for the rising generation to work in cities where jobs are growing and still get back for dinner in places they can afford to buy homes, all across the country,”
Moulton is one of nearly two dozen lawmakers requesting funding for a high-speed rail system that would run from New York City to Boston, Massachusetts.
Biden is currently negotiating on an infrastructure proposal with a bipartisan group of Senators. Details on the current proposal by the group have not been made public, so it is unclear how much, if any, is allocated for high-speed rail.