Accusations that Republicans are responsible for this week’s deadly Amtrak train crash because of funding fights are “stupid,” House Speaker John A. Boehner said Thursday, bristling at a question about the matter during his weekly press conference.
“Obviously it’s not about funding. The train was going twice the speed limit,” the Ohio Republican said. “Adequate funds were there, no money’s been cut from rail safety.”
Mr. Boehner chided the reporter who asked the question.
“It’s hard for me to imagine that people take the bait on some of the nonsense that gets spewed around here,” he said.
Liberal pressure groups have begun fundraising off the crash in trying to tie Tuesday night’s crash to GOP spending decisions. The Agenda Project, in a fundraising email, said “it is clear that additional funding could likely have prevented the tragedy.”
And Congressional Democrats blasted Republicans for voting against an amendment in the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday that would have directed money to the Positive Train Control system, which Democrats say could have prevented the crash.
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The train was going 106 miles per hour, or more than twice the speed limit on the curve of track where the accident happened, just ahead of the crash, according to investigators. A half-dozen passengers have been confirmed dead in the crash, and some passengers were still missing early Thursday morning.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, while not blaming the GOP for the crash, did link it to the current debate over infrastructure, and the highway bill that Congress needs to pass by the end of this month, but which has been held up because of Republican disagreements over funding.
She called the crash “a constant reminder that we must strengthen the confidence of, and safety in, our infrastructure.”