9:14 PM EDT

Paul C. Broun Jr., M.D., R-GA 10th

Mr. BROUN of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, this amendment would reduce Amtrak's Office of the Inspector General by $1 million and increase the spending reduction account by that same amount.

[Time: 21:15]

This reduction would eliminate a proposed increase to that account, keeping the funding level just like it is today for the coming year.

I spoke about Amtrak's failings at length during the consideration of the first title of this bill.

Amtrak consistently runs at a massive operating deficit. The long-distance routes are continually in the red, and the food and beverage service only nets a 65 percent return on what it spends despite paying its staff six-figure salaries, which is way above what the average American can expect to make in salary.

My colleagues who support Amtrak--and maybe even some who don't--will likely say that, if any part of this embattled entity deserves more funding, it is the inspector general. And, yes, the Office of the Inspector General has rooted out some fraud, and it has discovered some significant overpayments, but, Mr. Chairman, I would submit that health benefits fraud and overpayments are things that are just the tip of a very large and very obvious iceberg.

It is not some great mystery why Amtrak is hemorrhaging money. The long-distance routes lose incredible amounts of money, and taxpayers are being bilked for this tremendous amount of loss. It is breathtaking, really, that we continue to turn a blind eye to more than a half a billion dollars lost year after year just to sustain these routes which carry fewer than 5 million passengers annually. That number may sound large, but meanwhile, in 2012, there were more than 815 million ticketed airline

passengers in the United States.

How about the food and beverage service on Amtrak trains?

Over the last 5 years, this service has resulted in nearly $400 million in losses. Yes, the Office of the Inspector General does decent work, and I commend the Office for exposing and admitting Amtrak's history of cooking its books to make the losses sustained by these long-distance routes and the food and beverage service look slightly less awful than they actually are; but in this time of fiscal emergency, I think it would be prudent to tell the Amtrak OIG to work on the obvious issues first.

Take care of the big problems before hiring new staff to look for new issues that are dwarfed by what we already know.

I urge the support of my amendment, Mr. Chairman, and I yield back the balance of my time.

9:14 PM EDT

Paul C. Broun Jr., M.D., R-GA 10th

Mr. BROUN of Georgia. Mr. Chairman, this amendment would reduce Amtrak's Office of the Inspector General by $1 million and increase the spending reduction account by that same amount.

[Time: 21:15]

This reduction would eliminate a proposed increase to that account, keeping the funding level just like it is today for the coming year.

I spoke about Amtrak's failings at length during the consideration of the first title of this bill.

Amtrak consistently runs at a massive operating deficit. The long-distance routes are continually in the red, and the food and beverage service only nets a 65 percent return on what it spends despite paying its staff six-figure salaries, which is way above what the average American can expect to make in salary.

My colleagues who support Amtrak--and maybe even some who don't--will likely say that, if any part of this embattled entity deserves more funding, it is the inspector general. And, yes, the Office of the Inspector General has rooted out some fraud, and it has discovered some significant overpayments, but, Mr. Chairman, I would submit that health benefits fraud and overpayments are things that are just the tip of a very large and very obvious iceberg.

It is not some great mystery why Amtrak is hemorrhaging money. The long-distance routes lose incredible amounts of money, and taxpayers are being bilked for this tremendous amount of loss. It is breathtaking, really, that we continue to turn a blind eye to more than a half a billion dollars lost year after year just to sustain these routes which carry fewer than 5 million passengers annually. That number may sound large, but meanwhile, in 2012, there were more than 815 million ticketed airline

passengers in the United States.

How about the food and beverage service on Amtrak trains?

Over the last 5 years, this service has resulted in nearly $400 million in losses. Yes, the Office of the Inspector General does decent work, and I commend the Office for exposing and admitting Amtrak's history of cooking its books to make the losses sustained by these long-distance routes and the food and beverage service look slightly less awful than they actually are; but in this time of fiscal emergency, I think it would be prudent to tell the Amtrak OIG to work on the obvious issues first.

Take care of the big problems before hiring new staff to look for new issues that are dwarfed by what we already know.

I urge the support of my amendment, Mr. Chairman, and I yield back the balance of my time.

9:17 PM EDT

Tom Latham, R-IA 3rd

Mr. LATHAM. Mr. Chairman, I am in opposition to the gentleman's amendment.

As you know, one of the very important functions of this committee is [Page: H5170]

oversight--ensuring agencies under our purview are effectively and efficiently managed.

The bill provides the Amtrak OIG with $25 million for oversight studies and investigations into fraud, waste, and abuse at Amtrak. It is through these investigations that the Amtrak OIG has helped improve the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of Amtrak's programs and operations.

For example, Amtrak OIG developed a program that has identified improper or overpayments to the tune of $91.3 million. Amtrak has collected some of this back, which has saved taxpayer money. The impact of sequestration and unanticipated rail employee benefit cost increases wreaked havoc on Amtrak OIG and forced them to curtail or to suspend work on important initiatives and investigations. Amtrak needs more oversight, not less.

I appreciate the gentleman for pointing out all of the problems at Amtrak, but the only people there to fix it are in the OIG office, so I think to reduce funding for that would not be in the best interest. The bill's funding levels are not arbitrary. We have scrubbed these accounts. We have held hearings and have made recommendations on what should be funded and where increases or reductions need to be.

For those reasons, Mr. Chairman, I urge a ``no'' vote on the amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Broun).

The question was taken; and the Acting Chair announced that the noes appeared to have it.