Havre Daily News - News you can use

House nixes support for Empire Builder

 


House nixes support for Empire Builder

John Kelleher

The Montana House of Representatives, angry at what members see as an out-of-control federal deficit, refused to support a resolution urging continuation of Amtrak's Hi-Line Empire Builder.

The resolution, introduced by Rep. Michele Reinhart, D-Missoula, asked for continued Congressional funding for the Empire Builder, which extends across the northern part of the state.

It also called for a study of reopening the Hiawatha Line. Shut down in the 1980s, the line goes from Chicago to Seattle and travels through southern Montana, including Bozeman and Billings.

Congress is considering Amtrak funding as part of its budget process.

Reinhart said trains are the most energy-efficient ways of transporting people and said one-third of Montanans are too young, too old or too disabled to drive.

But lawmakers had just gone through an emotional debate over delisting wolves and nullification of federal Environmental Protection Act. Disgust with the federal government was a major factor in the debate.

Several lawmakers said Amtrak was adding to the federal budget that they said will take several generations to pay off. Reinhart's resolution was rejected 58-41.

The Empire Builder vote saw rare unanimity in the Hill County delegation.

Rep. Kris Hansen, R-Havre, Rep. Wendy Warburton, R-Havre, and Tony Belcourt, D-Box Elder, joined in support of Reinhart's resolution for the Empire Builder, which stops in Havre.

"I didn't care that much for the Hiawatha Line," Warburton said after the vote. "But the Empire Express is a service that I have used and my family has used."

The Montana House of Representatives, angry at what members see as an out-of-control federal deficit, refused to support a resolution urging continuation of Amtrak's Hi-Line Empire Builder.

The resolution, introduced by Rep. Michele Reinhart, D-Missoula, asked for continued Congressional funding for the Empire Builder, which extends across the northern part of the state.

It also called for a study of reopening the Hiawatha Line. Shut down in the 1980s, the line goes from Chicago to Seattle and travels through southern Montana, including Bozeman and Billings.

Congress is considering Amtrak funding as part of its budget process.

Reinhart said trains are the most energy-efficient ways of transporting people and said one-third of Montanans are too young, too old or too disabled to drive.

But lawmakers had just gone through an emotional debate over delisting wolves and nullification of federal Environmental Protection Act. Disgust with the federal government was a major factor in the debate.

Several lawmakers said Amtrak was adding to the federal budget that they said will take several generations to pay off. Reinhart's resolution was rejected 58-41.

The Empire Builder vote saw rare unanimity in the Hill County delegation.

Rep. Kris Hansen, R-Havre, Rep. Wendy Warburton, R-Havre, and Tony Belcourt, D-Box Elder, joined in support of Reinhart's resolution for the Empire Builder, which stops in Havre.

"I didn't care that much for the Hiawatha Line," Warburton said after the vote. "But the Empire Express is a service that I have used and my family has used."

 

Reader Comments(0)

 
 

Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2021