The bill is far from a done deal, but does represent forward movement after many weeks of deadlock.
The eight senators that are championing the compromise made clear that the bill was a short-term fix to provide emergency funding between now and March 31, 2021 and Democrats are talking of further covid relief measures once the new congress convenes in January according to the Washington Post.
The bill would allow Amtrak to return the national long-distance network to daily service including the Lake Shore Limited from Chicago to New York and Boston via Albany according to the Rail Passengers Association.
It is possible the bill would also support state supported routes as well. The Vermonter, Ethan Allen and Adirondack have been canceled entirely and the Downeaster to Maine, Empire servic in New York and the Hartford line are running reduced frequencies.
The bill provides $17 billion for airlines and $8 billion for private buses.
Democrats had pushed for a $3 trillion package. The White House had offered a $1.7 trillion package. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has offered his own $500 billion ‘skinny relief package’ with no funding for any kind of transportation. It does not appear he will support this proposal, according to the Washington Post.
Both Maine Senators were part of the small group discussions
The current Continuing Resolution funding the federal government expires December 11th and its renewal is expected to be the vehicle to pass whatever relief package can be managed.
Christopher has 15 years of railroad experience, starting as a Conductor on Cape Cod and 15 years of public policy advocacy and outreach work. Christopher is Executive Director of Vermont Rail Action Network, communicating the vision of better trains to elected and government officials, community leaders and the public. Christopher is a consultant for freight and passenger planning and development projects including operating planning, federal grant applications, marketing, and public outreach.