More About NARP’s Day on the Hill.
Over the years, I’ve probably joined my NARP colleagues a dozen times for our annual Day on the Hill. That’s the one day of the three we schedule in April of each year when 100-plus NARP members trudge from office to office on The Hill to meet with senators and members of Congress or, far more likely, the person on their staff who specializes in transportation issues. The goal is to establish or strengthen contacts, deliver up-to-date information, and advance the cause of passenger rail. It is important.
But it’s a tough day because it requires a helluva lot of walking. The buildings in which House members have their offices are on the opposite side of the capitol building from the Senate office buildings. I suppose it’s a twenty-minute walk … assuming it’s a brisk walk. So if you have a ten o’clock meeting with a House member and are scheduled to sit down with a staffer for one of your senators at 11:00, you had better not spend more than 15 or 20 minutes with the congressman. And good luck if it happens to be raining!
This was a particularly interesting year for one-on-one conversations with Congressional staff people. Trump, of course, has said he’s accomplished more in the first 100 days than any of his predecessors, a claim that has drawn hoots of laughter from Democrat staffers and rolling eyeballs from most of the people working for Republican legislators.
NARP people making visits on The Hill this past Tuesday–in particular those who met with Republican staffers–came back saying they had been received in a more open manner than in years past. Some Congressional staff even went out of their way to assure our people that support for Amtrak’s long-distance trains would not be reduced, and certainly funding would not eliminated.
The infamous Trump Wall came up in a number of the meetings. It does appear that construction might actually begin, but it would be a seriously scaled back version of what Trump has in his twisted mind. Work would be slow to a crawl after the media had finished reporting that construction was underway.
Of course, what galls all of us at NARP is the knowledge that the cost of The Wall–estimated to be at least $25 billion–could continue the federal government’s pitifully small support of Amtrak for another 15 years. But what a perfect example of Our Leader’s priorities.