Senator Tom (“Global Warming is a lot of crap“) Coburn hates trains in general, hates Amtrak in particular, and especially hates passengers on Amtrak and similar commuter trains. Coburn would be much happier if everyone drove Hummers to and from their jobs instead of taking the communistic commuter rail.
Legislation that would mandate collision-avoidance systems for trains is being blocked by Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who objects to a provision that would provide a major funding boost for Amtrak that was bundled together with the safety measures this week.
In a phone interview, Mr. Coburn said that in addition to the specific reservations he has over the increased spending in the rail package, which has an estimated cost of about $14 billion over five years, the $700 billion federal rescue plan makes fiscal discipline in other areas even more imperative.
“We’re on a short financial leash for at least the next couple of quarters,” Mr. Coburn said. “We have to start doing things now … that will make a difference for the future.”
Transportation leaders in Congress reached an agreement Wednesday on a long-pending package of bills related to rail safety and service. Supporters of increased funding for Amtrak’s passenger rail service hoped to overcome Mr. Coburn’s opposition by combining that measure with legislation that would attack railway safety problems highlighted by the Sept. 12 train crash in California that killed 25 people. The safety measures include increasing the number of federal railroad inspectors and limiting the consecutive hours train crews can work.
Mr. Coburn also opposes a provision that would steer $1.5 billion to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, saying passengers and local authorities should fund mass-transit operations in the nation’s capital.
Money for Wall Street, but not a dime for safety measures for ordinary citizens. Lovely man, indeed. Too bad he’s in office until 2010 (unless of course some hinted-at scandals become public)