Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has responded to a request by various Republican lawmakers for an investigation into his use of Amtrak, calling it a “political stunt.”
Biden has been using the passenger rail service to visit key Rust Belt states, chartering trains to take him to campaign stops in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Further, he’s used footage of those stops, with carriages in the background, as part of his campaign efforts.
That has not sat well with some Republican members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. In a letter to Amtrak CEO William J. Flynn, which can be read here, four lawmakers — Rep. Rick Crawford of Arkansas, Rep. Bob Gibbs of Ohio, Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, and Rep. Lloyd Smucker of Pennsylvania — demand answers.
Specifically, the letter accuses Biden of violating Amtrak’s “primary objective,” which does not include charters. Further, the legislators claimed that the former vice president’s use of the vehicles “redirected Amtrak’s scarce resources during a time of record losses, employee layoffs, and service cuts during the COVID-19 pandemic,” and possibly even caused delays in medical supplies due to tying up tracks that would otherwise be used by freight trains.
The letter called upon Flynn to provide the committee with a breakdown of cost to provide Biden’s services, including equipment use and employees’ salaries. The total amount the Biden campaign paid Amtrak was also requested. Further, the committee wants to know if the chartered trips disrupted Amtrak services, caused delays of freight trains, and if any employees were taken off of their regular duties for Biden’s use, among other demands.
The letter gave Flynn until November 2 to respond.
On Wednesday, Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Julia Terruso published Biden’s team’s response to the letter in two tweets.
First, the campaign claimed that using Amtrak to provide charter service is possible and contrasted that with President Donald Trump’s purported use of White House facilities for political events.
“Anyone can charter a train with Amtrak. Last time we checked, no one can charter the White House South Lawn for a political convention,” read the first part of the statement, as tweeted by Terruso.
Further, the Biden team accused the Republicans of carrying out “political stunts” and juxtaposed Biden’s actions with purported abuses by the Trump administration.
“Instead of wasting time on political stunts, congressional Republicans should stop ignoring Donald Trump’s blatant abuses of taxpayer money and government resources,” the second tweet noted.