GOP Slams $53B High-Speed Rail Plan

Huge rail boost likely to meet stiff House opposition
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2011 6:24 AM CST
GOP Slams $53B High-Speed Rail Plan
Joe Biden estimates he has ridden Amtrak between Washington and Delaware 8,000 times.   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

Joe Biden announced an ambitious $53 billion plan to expand America's high-speed rail program yesterday, drawing immediate fire from Republicans. "This is like giving Bernie Madoff another chance at handling your investment portfolio," said House Transportation Committee chairman John Mica, pointing to previous rail failures and labeling Amtrak a "Soviet-style train system." But with China and Japan already investing heavily in high-speed rail, Biden countered, "If we do not, you tell me how America is going to be able to lead the world in the 21st century."

Biden—who described the plan as the country's biggest investment in rail since Abraham Lincoln began the transcontinental railroad—says the project to build new rail networks and make existing ones faster will create jobs and help America compete internationally, reports Reuters. The administration will seek $8 billion in this year's budget for the plan, and spread the rest out over six years, but House Republicans are likely to try their best to derail it, notes Michael Grunwald at Time, describing the plan as a "high-stakes gamble." The move comes on the heels of Amtrak's plan to expand NY-NJ commuter trains.
(More Amtrak stories.)

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