Congress agrees that the White House’s ambitious high-speed rail plan should be funded next year — but the House is pushing for $2.8 billion more than the Senate, setting up a high-stakes battle that rail advocates want the House to win.
Enter the Midwest High-Speed Rail Association (MHSRA), a non-profit group pushing for a high-speed rail network that would use Chicago as a hub and ultimately extend through eight states.
The MHSRA already has savvy allies on the Hill and a coordinated network of governors, but it recently added a website that helps voters track how their House members voted on next year’s high-speed rail budget. That sort of on-the-ground lobbying could prove crucial as Appropriations Committee members from both chambers of Congress convene next month to hash out a final deal.
Yet the midwest is not the only region where lawmakers are working overtime to give their home districts a leg up in high-speed rail funding. House Democrats from upstate New York earmarked $4.6 million for local rail improvements in the same bill that gives $4 billion to a high-speed system, while six New England governors have formed an alliance along the lines of the MHSRA.