Arkansas Representatives French Hill and Steve Womack joined every Democrat in the House late Wednesday night to kill a Republican-backed amendment that would have slashed all federal funding for Amtrak. The amendment, contributed by Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks to a massive federal spending bill, was turned away on a 293-128 vote.
Representatives Bruce Westerman and Rick Crawford voted to end funding for the passenger rail service, which includes Amtrak’s Texas Eagle that travels a daily route between Chicago and San Antonio, with Arkansas stops in Little Rock, Walnut Ridge, Malvern, Arkadelphia, Hope, and Texarkana,
Brooks had argued that Amtrak’s roughly $1.1 billion dollar per year federal subsidy contributed to the ballooning national debt, and that it was unfair to ask taxpayers who don’t use the rail service to pay for it. Brooks said Amtrak should raise its fares to make up for the loss of federal funding.
Amtrak was founded in 1971, and has always relied on federal funding. In 2015, French Hill and Westerman voted to continue funding for Amtrak, with Womack voting against. Crawford did not vote.