Budget-busting station named for Biden

March 18, 2011

By Stephen Dinan-The Washington Times

As a thank-you to its most famous customer, Amtrak is renaming the train station in Wilmington, Del., after stimulus “sheriff” Vice PresidentJoseph R. Biden — after the project received $20 million in stimulus money and came in $5.7 million over the initial announced budget.

Spokesmen for Mr. Biden, who said he personally fought for stimulus money for Amtrak, didn’t respond to messages Wednesday or Thursday.

But Amtrak said it alone made the decision to rename the station in honor of the vice president. The company also said its own budget projection was always greater than the $32 million the White Houseannounced back in 2009 — though Amtrak itself also listed the $32 million cost that year, later raising the price tag to $37.7 million.

“The Wilmington station is owned by Amtrak, and Amtrak on its own made the determination to name the station,” said spokeswoman Danelle Hunter.

President Obama, soon after signing the Recovery Act in early 2009, designated Mr. Biden his “sheriff” overseeing the stimulus funds, charging him with regularly checking in with governors and mayors to try to prevent waste, fraud and abuse in the $821 billion economic recovery package.

In that role, Mr. Biden himself traveled to Wilmington on May 4, 2009, to announce the $20 million in stimulus money as part of what the White House billed a “$32 million renovation and restoration” of the century-old station.

“We would not be spending a penny on it today without the Recovery Act,” Mr. Biden said. “We have no time to wait. We cannot wait. That’s what the Recovery Act is about.”

The vice president, who as a senator commuted daily by train from his home in Delaware to Washington, bragged he had made more than 7,000 round trips on the track. He said he “heavily influenced the amount of money” that the stimulus sent to train projects.

Renaming the station is apparently legal — and is fitting in this case, saidLeslie Paige, spokeswoman for Citizens Against Government Waste.

To read more, visit: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/mar/17/stimulus-funded-train-station-be-named-biden/



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