Amtrak Improvement Act of 1978 Statement on Signing S. 3040 Into Law.
I am today signing into law S. 3040, the Amtrak Improvement Act of 1978.
This legislation authorizes the appropriation of $755 million in Federal funds in fiscal year 1979 for the National Railroad Passenger Corporation's (Amtrak) operating expenses and capital expenditures. The bill also directs the Secretary of Transportation, in conjunction with Amtrak, to conduct a study of Amtrak's basic route structure for railroad passenger service and to submit his final recommendations regarding that system to the Congress by December 31, 1978.
For several years attempts have been made to put Amtrak on a more stable financial footing and to discontinue services that have large operating losses without providing substantial public benefits. This bill provides a procedure for bringing about a quick, significant restructuring of Amtrak's route system. Without this legislation, restructuring would have to be done on a route-by-route basis, in a time consuming manner, with no assurance that the final result would coincide with national transportation needs and priorities. Under these circumstances it would be very difficult to control the future growth of Amtrak's deficit. For this reason, I am signing the bill.
However, S. 3040 also contains a provision requiring that the final recommendations of the Secretary of Transportation regarding the Amtrak route system must lay before Congress for a period of 90 calendar days, during which they may be disapproved by a simple resolution adopted by either the Senate or the House of Representatives.
In my message to the Congress of June 21, 1978, I specifically indicated that I regard such congressional control over the exercise of statutory discretion by the executive branch as unconstitutional. Accordingly, I am directing the Secretary of Transportation to treat this provision in S. 3040 as a "report and wait" provision.
I am also concerned over the "Buy American" provision in this bill. S. 3040 would require that Amtrak's purchase of goods costing over $1 million be limited to those mined, produced, or manufactured in the United States. However, there are provisions in the legislation permitting the Secretary of Transportation to waive these "Buy American" requirements under certain conditions. I expect the Secretary to exercise his discretionary waiver authority in a manner that is consistent with the public interest, including our obligations under international agreements.
Note: As enacted, S. 3040 is Public Law 95421, approved October 5.
The statement was released on October 6.
Jimmy Carter, Amtrak Improvement Act of 1978 Statement on Signing S. 3040 Into Law. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243814