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GOP Rep. Renews Push to Privatize Amtrak

Former chairman of the House Transportation Committee Rep. John Mica uses his often-repeated Soviet comparison to Amtrak

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Rep. John Mica is renewing his push to privatize Amtrak, saying he is readying legislation to end its "costly monopoly" and "Soviet-style mentality."

"Since 1971, Amtrak has run a costly monopoly with Soviet style operations," said Rep. John Mica, renewing his privatization push. (Photo: latteda) Speaking on Tuesday to the National High Speed Rail Association, the former chairman of the House Transportation Committee said, "Since 1971, Amtrak has run a costly monopoly with Soviet style operations," and added that his legislation would "be a centerpiece to open a whole new era of competition."

Mica remains a member of the committee, now chaired by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.).

The Hill reports that

The legislation mirrors a 2011 House Republican effort to privatize Amtrak service in the Northeast that was unsuccessful when moderate suburban Republicans joined Democrats on the transportation panel in opposition to eliminating the rail company's federal funding.

This is not the first time Mica has used "Soviet-style" to refer to Amtrak, and during his time as chair of the committee he "repeatedly held hearings about Amtrak's financial operations."

On Tuesday Mica also slammed President Obama's plans for high-speed rail, saying, "The administration has wasted $10 billion on high speed rail over the past four years, missing opportunities to dramatically leverage those funds with private sector participation."

But the plans were defended by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, who said they required time, investment and vision. “The last group of transportation officials left us an interstate system. What we will leave to the next generation is high-speed rail,” said LaHood.

On high-speed rail, LaHood noted, "The people are so far ahead of most politicians."