Obama Gets Rail Rolling With $8B Stimulus

Prez plots $8b high-speed train network
By Gabriel Winant,  Newser User
Posted Feb 17, 2009 11:31 AM CST
In this Feb. 20, 2007, file photo, the Capitol Limited Amtrak train arrives in Washington from Chicago.    (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, file)
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(Newser) – America's railways are about to get a huge handout: At today's signing of the stimulus package, $8 billion will be allocated to high-speed rail. Though the money will be divvied up according to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's master plan, the expansion is truly President Obama's pet project, reports Politico. "The president wanted to have a signature issue in the bill, his commitment for the future,” said Rahm Emanuel.

And signature issues were drying up; as support for school construction and modernizing the electric grid evaporated, Obama shifted his sights to the rails. But Republicans have ignored Obama’s key role, instead attacking it—and a much decried potential LA to Las Vegas line—as pork-barrel spending masterminded by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Responds Reid, “I’m glad I get the credit in Nevada, but this is Obama’s No. 1 priority.”