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Senate Says Amtrack Must Allow Guns on Trains or Lose Funding

If the Senate gets its way, you might have to wait in longer lines the next time you want to catch a train. In a win for the well-heeled gun rights lobby, the Senate today passed an amendment to a transportation bill that would stop the release of $1.6 billion in federal funding to Amtrak if the railroad prohibits customers from transporting their weapons, the Associated Press reports. The bill has to get hashed out with the House, which did not include the provision in its bill, but if it passes, this means Amtrak will quickly have to put into place the necessary infrastructure for proper screening (though you'll still be able to keep your shoes on).

We'll have more analysis of the money-in-politics angle of this story tomorrow, but for now, here are a few of our observations:

-- The measure was sponsored by Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), who has collected $34,850 through his candidate committees from gun rights groups since he was elected in 1994. Wicker is not up for re-election until 2014.

-- The Association of American Railroads, which represents Amtrak, has spent $5.5 million on lobbying efforts this year.

-- Gun rights groups have spent $2.1 million lobbying in the first half of this year, with the National Rifle Association leading the way with nearly $1 million in expenditures.

-- Gun control groups, on the other hand, have spent far less on lobbying than the NRA alone at $80,000 since the start of the year.

-- Perhaps not surprisingly, campaign contributions from gun control groups flow to Democrats (of the $1.8 million these groups have given to candidates and party committees since 1989, 94 percent went to Democrats), while donations from gun rights groups favor the GOP (86 percent of the ideological group's $21.5 million has gone to Republicans). Yet 27 Democrats voted for this bill, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Reid has collected $11,000 from gun rights organizations since 1989 and $1,000 from gun control groups.

-- The underlying transportation bill's sponsor, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) has brought in $8,000 from gun control organizations since 1989, which puts her in the top 20 recipients in the Senate, and nothing from gun rights groups. Murray has said this policy is too costly for Amtrak.


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