WASHINGTON -- Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) took time Thursday to directly attack House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for saying it’s “stupid” to think funding cuts contributed to an Amtrak crash earlier this week that killed eight people and injured more than 200.
Earlier on Thursday, Boehner had cut off a reporter asking for a response to Democrats’ criticisms about cuts to Amtrak funding, saying, “That’s a stupid question.”
“They started this yesterday: 'It’s all about funding, it’s all about funding.' Well, obviously it’s not about funding,” Boehner said. “The train was going twice the speed limit. Adequate funds were there, no money has been cut from rail safety and the House passed a bill earlier this spring to reauthorize Amtrak. It’s hard for me to imagine that people take the bait on some of the nonsense that gets spewed around here.”
Schumer took issue with that, issuing a statement Thursday afternoon that called Boehner’s comments “patently false.”
“Experts have made clear that positive train control [PTC] could have prevented the tragedy in Philadelphia,” Schumer said, referring to technology that could automatically slow down or stop a train to avoid accidents. “It is simply a fact that insufficient funding for Amtrak has delayed the installation of PTC, and to deny a connection between the accident and underfunding Amtrak is to deny reality.”
A House committee voted to cut funding for Amtrak on Wednesday, and voted down an amendment that would have offered $825 million for positive train control technology.
The Amtrak train, which derailed in Philadelphia Tuesday night, was traveling at roughly 106 miles per hour while taking a curve where the limit was 50 mph.