WASHINGTON — President Bush today vetoed a bill authorizing funds for Amtrak, the nation's rail passenger service, protesting a provision to bring railroad acquisitions under new government scrutiny.
Bush said the provision "represents a step backward for the entire rail industry."
It was Bush's first veto of 1990. He vetoed 10 measures last year and has yet to have one overturned.
In a veto message to Congress, Bush criticized a provision that would require the government to review and approve proposed acquisitions of railroads by non-railroad companies and organizations.
"This new regulatory burden would interfere with the ability of the nation's largest freight railroads to obtain needed capital or to change existing capital structure," Bush said.
He said it would even subject to new scrutiny attempts to take over a rail line by "a carrier's own management or employees."
"This requirement is an unwarranted regulatory roadblock to financial restructuring of the railroad industry," Bush said.
He said there is also adequate protection under existing law "to protect the public interest in acquisition situations."
The provision would require Interstate Commerce Commission approval of all railroad takeovers by non-railroad companies.