June 16 (UPI) — A group of Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday called on Congress to increase funding for high-speed rail in President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Seth Moulton, D-Mass., urged for an increase to the proposed $80 billion in rail projects included in the proposal, which industry experts say will mostly be spent on updating existing Amtrak lines than building new high-speed railways.
“We have a once in a generation opportunity to invest in infrastructure,” Moulton said during a press conference. “We cannot squander that by investing in the last generation’s infrastructure. High-speed rail, high-speed broadband this is the future and that’s why we’re here today.”
The lawmakers launched a high-speed rail coalition, including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the U.S. High Speed Rail Association, declaring that an electric high-speed rail network would create millions of new jobs and reduce the United States’ carbon footprint.
“Rail is climate infrastructure,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “For every buck that we’re going to put into a car and a bridge, we want to put a buck into a rail. We want equity. That’s what we’re here to demand.”
They also noted that while high-speed rail lines are present throughout large portions of Europe and Asia, no trains currently deployed in the United States are classified as high speed.
“We’re the strongest, greatest economy in the world when it comes to entrepreneurialism and when it comes to innovation, and we should never be ceding that leadership anywhere in the world,” Gillibrand said.
Biden has dropped the price of the infrastructure plan, originally totaling more than $2 trillion when first proposed in March, amid a lack of support from Republicans.
Last week, a group of 10 Democrats and Republicans said they had reached an agreement on a “realistic, compromise framework to modernize our nation’s infrastructure and energy technologies” and would not be funded by tax increases.