Lawmakers with ties to railroad industry propose Amtrak privatization bill


by Eric Dunn, Policy Intern

The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure recently held a hearing on the Competition for Intercity Passenger Rail in America Act, proposed by Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) and Bill Shuster (R-Pa.). The goal of the legislation is to let private companies do what Reps. Mica and Shuster feel the federally subsidized rail company Amtrak hasn’t: make commuter rail quick, easy, and cheap. The bill would strip Amtrak of its most profitable routes and allow the Department of Transportation to auction them off to private railroad companies.

A look at Sunlight’s Influence Explorer reveals that both Mica and Shuster have received significant campaign contributions from the railroad industry.

The railroad industry was Rep. Shuster’s second largest campaign contributor in the 2010 election cycle, contributing $49,000 to his campaign. Four of his top five top contributors have ties to the railroad industry and could benefit if Amtrak’s assets are privatized.

Rep. Mica received contributions from the railroad industry totalling $50,000 in the 2010 cycle.

Amtrak has voiced opposition to the plan offered by Congress.