House Republicans’ spending bill could derail over train concerns
GOP leaders in the House of Representatives are facing a revolt from a growing network of members who are pushing for reforms that could derail a sweeping spending bill ahead of a deadline this week. At issue is a vortex of partisan fighting involving passenger rail lines, Amtrak subsidies, and President Donald Trump’s budding infrastructure plans. In April, the Trump administration proposed a plan to slash $630 million in funding for Amtrak, which provided the core of the House’s proposed $1.1 trillion spending package. But conservative Republicans, many from rural areas where Amtrak serves as the main mode of transportation, aren’t on board with the proposal. They’ve been joined by a handful of moderate House Democrats who want to protect passenger rail funding. The rail standoff could become a major sticking point in the House’s attempt to pass a spending package before the government shutdown deadline at the end of April. If Congress fails to pass the spending bill in time, it will throw the government into chaos. Republicans have said they want to move quickly on spending and infrastructure, but the battle has created huge rifts amongst members of the party, with many Republican members now open to negotiations and amendments to funding proposals. At the same time, Democrats are preparing to take advantage of potential splits in the Republican majority, and have signaled that they’ll make rail funding a focus of their negotiations over spending. Some Democrats have even suggested that they won’t support a spending package until their rail issues are addressed. It’s unclear how the issue will be resolved in the House, but it appears likely that rail funding will be a key factor in the negotiations over spending. Time is running out for Congress to reach a deal, though, which means the impasse could spiral into a government shutdown if House leaders fail to get a bipartisan agreement.