The day after an Amtrak train derailed, causing the deaths of at least seven people and injuring upwards of 146, a House of Representatives panel approved to cut funding for the train line.
In a vote 30-21, the Republican-led House Appropriations Committee approved the reduction of grants to Amtrak by $252 million. The decrease amounts to about 15 percent less funding than last year, CNN reports.
The cut applies only to Amtrak’s capital spending and will not interfere with funding for safety and operations. The measure must still be approved by the full House and Senate before it could go into effect in October.
Democrats tried to increase funding for Amtrak by $1 billion, to $2.4 billion; their amendments failed.
"While we don't know the cause of this accident, we do know that starving rail of funding will not enable safer train travel," Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey of New York said, according to Vox.
Republicans reprimanded Democrats who referred to the recent derailment in order to try and increase Amtrak funding.
"Don't use this tragedy in that way. It was beneath you," Republican Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho said to Democrats.
The Amtrak derailment that occurred Tuesday in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.
"It's critical we find out exactly what happened out there and make sure we take the appropriate response to make sure it doesn't happen again," said Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest showed support for investing in improving transportation infrastructure that is decades-old.
"There is clearly more that can be done when we're talking about a railway infrastructure that is decades-old," Earnest said Wednesday on CNN's "New Day."
"If there's an opportunity for us to make further investments in our infrastructure that would better safeguard the traveling public, then those are investments that we should make," he added.
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