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Former House transportation committee Chairman John Mica is putting everything on the table for Amtrak reform. That includes a cup of coffee and a hamburger.
Mica’s long-standing complaints about losses on the railroad’s food service produced a tense exchange between him and Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman during a subcommittee hearing Thursday. And it provided an example of the host of issues Congress must haggle over as transportation leaders work toward passing a new passenger rail bill.
In addition to Mica’s objections to the cost of a cup of joe and his push for private-sector competition, the list of contentious issues includes stemming losses on coast-to-coast routes, getting states to share Amtrak’s cost burden and deciding the future of high-speed rail. But even with that litany of controversies underway, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and railroads subcommittee Chairman Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) exude nothing but confidence that they can get a bill done by the end of September.