House Republicans’ spending bill could derail over train concerns

Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., is facing his first big GOP spending showdown as leader of the House of Representatives.

Republican lawmakers and aides told Fox News Digital that the bill laying out funding for Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (THUD) could land with a “thud” on the House floor if it’s not pulled from the schedule or altered.

Among the main issues that kept resurfacing were cuts that both Northeastern and Midwestern Republicans said would severely hinder U.S. train and railway operations. 

“Yeah, it is,” Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., said bluntly when asked whether the spending bill was in trouble. “I know there’s a lot of Republicans I talked to last night, they have the same concerns on the railroad side.” 

He explained earlier, “We’re making some serious cuts . . . to the railroad funding. And you know, I worry about it. We’ve got Union Pacific, we’ve got some Burlington Northern. Amtrak goes through.”

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For New York Republicans, Amtrak is a particular concern. The THUD bill would cut funding to the rail system by 64% from 2023 levels. It’s likely to also have a major effect on the Northeastern Corridor, the busiest passenger rail line, which runs among Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City and Boston.

“It’s a lot of jobs in our area, in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area, that could potentially be lost with the 64% cut,” Rep. Anthony D’Esposito, R-N.Y., told Fox News Digital. “The cuts are not really proportionate. They’re just, you know, a direct slash across the board.” 

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Asked whether he is opposing the bill in its current form, D’Esposito said, “We’re trying to talk through it and make sure that there’s not something that we’re missing. Perhaps, you know, there’s ways to find the funding elsewhere, but right now, a 64% cut to Amtrak in New York is a tough pill to swallow.” 

A staffer for a Northeast House Republican said many lawmakers from that area are opposing the bill.

Rep. Marc Molinaro, R-N.Y., told Fox News Digital that he had “reservations” about supporting the THUD funding.

“Certainly, the significant cut to Amtrak in particular, for me, the Northeast line, is . . . hard to accept. I’ve expressed those reservations and am hopeful that they can be addressed to a degree,” he said. “The Northeast Corridor line is the one Amtrak line that makes significant revenue. And it is a major artery for not only the northeast, but the heart of New York State.”

He added, “I’m certainly interested in reining in federal spending, but it shouldn’t be done on the backs of Amtrak employees.”

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y., however, told Fox News Digital that she supported the overall bill but added, “I would like to see some additional Amtrak funding being put back.”

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But a senior GOP aide was not optimistic that enough Republican lawmakers felt the same way.

“There’s enough opposition to kill it. It’s just a matter of whether or not they want to go to the amendment process and try to whip it still. Or if they want to pull it,” the aide said. 

“People were looking at THUD as a place to cut a bunch of things. So the Freedom Caucus guys are upset that we’re not cutting enough, and then you have folks like the New Yorkers, who are moderates, looking at it saying, ‘You’re cutting way too much, especially to Amtrak.’ . . . So I don’t think there’s a lot of room to budge,” the senior GOP aide explained.

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Two more lawmakers from the New York City metropolitan area would not discuss their thoughts on the bill – Reps. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., and Thomas Kean, R-N.J. 

“I’m not talking about any of the approps bills right now,” Lawler said tersely when asked for his thoughts. When pressed as to why, he said, “Because I’m not.”

As of Thursday afternoon, the THUD spending bill vote is expected on Friday.

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