Rep. Albio Sires (D-13), who is running for reelection in November, is concerned about Amtrak’s future if Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney wins. He told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that it’s possible Amtrak will be disbanded if Romney leads the country and Republicans take control of the Senate. He also discussed the power of the Hispanic vote.
Sires, who is on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said Amtrak is doing the best job possible with the money available. “Obviously it’s very expensive to secure those tunnels,” he said, explaining that officials are fighting to make sure Amtrak gets the necessary funding.
“This is a constant fight in Washington every year,” Sires said. “Some people in Washington of a different party want to privatize it. We feel there’s a role for the government especially when it comes to security.”
If Mitt Romney wins the presidential race and Republicans gain control in the Senate, Sires said it’s possible Amtrak could disappear. “The Republicans have been beating up on Amtrak for the last three weeks,” he said.
Sires believes Amtrak provides a good service, moving people around a very congested area. “We need to keep that because not everybody can drive a car so it moves a lot of people,” he said. “It’s very difficult for people who are not from this area to visualize what Amtrak does in this area.”
Sires is running for reelection in November in a newly redrawn district. He said his district had 630,000 people and will now have 730,000. The population was 49 percent Hispanic and after redistricting is 53 percent Hispanic. The increase is due to the redistricting, Sires said.
According to Sires, Hispanic voters are at a crossroads. “I think that they’re starting to see what they can accomplish if they go out and vote and participate in the American process. I see that every year more and more and more,” he said. “And I think you’re going to see this year a lot more Hispanics voting than in the past because there are a lot of issues that are important to Hispanics that are on this election.”