WASHINGTON — The White House’s plan to decrease transportation spending, privatize air traffic control and discard long-distance train service is facing an uphill battle from Congress, Reuters reported today.
In May, the Trump administration proposed cutting discretionary U.S. Transportation Department spending by 12.7 percent, or $2.4 billion, to $16.2 billion. A House of Representatives Appropriations Committee panel this week, however, approved $17.8 billion in discretionary spending, $1.5 billion above the White House request.
On Thursday, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao addressed a U.S. Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who chairs the panel, said she was disappointed about many of the proposed cuts, according to Reuters.
The subcommittee nixed a Trump administration plan to end subsidies for Amtrak to operate long-distance train service. If enacted, it would have cut $630 million of $1.4 billion in annual government support for passenger rail service. Also rejected was a plan to eliminate $150 million in annual subsidies for commercial air service to rural airports.
Many lawmakers also opposed the administration's proposal to privatize the air traffic control system.
In June, the Senate Commerce Committee approved proposed changes in Federal Aviation Administration policies. The House is scheduled to vote on the privatization plan as soon as next week.
President Donald Trump says the move would modernize air traffic control and lower flying costs. The proposal has drawn fire from private plane owners and rural airports, alike. Critics say it would hand control of an important service to special interests and big airlines.
Chao said the administration is working to address general aviation concerns.