tv Capital News Today CSPAN November 28, 2012 11:00pm-2:00am EST
palestinians. their flights will only be alleviated if there is a successful negotiation between the parties. it is not possible -- they would not be wise to disregard all israeli concerns. those concerns have to be made known as well. israel has to know that they can live in peace and security, just as palestinians need to know they can live in a viable state. it is very important to understand both sides of the argument and i don't think that is where very good example of that. >> [inaudible] and the government over the past two years, it has been rejected by the palestinian authority. >> yet it does require bilateral talks. i think that there is, as i was indicating a few minutes ago, faults on both sides when it
comes to efforts to have negotiations of the last few years. israel has been wanting to negotiate into negotiations. they have not been the more decisive offer of anything seen in recent years. anything that has been called for. i think both of those things are going to have to change if we are going to see a successful process. >> mr. fitzpatrick? >> the foreign secretary said he's worried he is worried about the backlash from israel and others. given the sentiments, the refugee camps come at the object policy and the rest come how much more can we get that also means? >> well, unfortunately it could get worse. the palestinian authority is in
a precarious financial position, although the united kingdom and the government is strong in that regard come and we will maintain a strong record. it is a difficult position. given the nature of the west bank, the proximity of israel, the difficult relations with israel, i guess things could get worse. there ways are ways in which they could get even worse. taking into consideration both sides. >> i welcome this statement. with every effort, we have a historical and moral
responsibility. >> just come i am grateful to my humble friend. we are dealing with the urgency of it and the way we conduct things over the weeks and months. >> [inaudible] >> this is a matter for the israeli people. i will not intervene in politics. we have always had good relationships with barack obama, and he is one of the leaders i speak to most frequently.
we will make the case very powerful to them about the urgency of this issue. we will not be shy of doing that. just as we are not shy of palestinians. >> mr. robin walker, this house should support both sides. also, increasing accountability of palestinian organizations to the u.n. >> whether it would mark a step towards depends on what would happen next. and as i mentioned earlier,
there is a sequence which they have hope for the future ,-com,-com ma that is what we are trying to provide for, assurances that we have asked for so that we can maximize the further progress being made we can only answer his question pearly when we see what happens next. what i am interested in is what he said to the israeli government -- what is he doing to prevent a threat about being carried out?
>> we are very clear and we have been clear with israel already. they say that we will not react in a adverse way of passing of the revolution. does that show that bullying and threats actually work and send out completely the wrong message to all israelis and palestinians who seek a peaceful resolution?
>> welcome i do have some differences about that. it is not just about the messages. it is about how do you get two parties that have not had a successful negotiation for so long. this is not about facing negotiations and our actions should be guided by what maximizes the chances. that is the guiding principle of our policy. >> [inaudible] >> we need to be clear in the peace process. also, in regards to this resolution, i don't think it's
undermining end anyway. i think we will be in a strong position after all of the ability to move the peace process forward and over the coming weeks. so i think the prediction is not borne out by events. >> we heard a lot this afternoon about the conditions. can the foreign secretary tell the house house which preconditions he regards as most unreasonable, and the israeli settlement factors as a type of preconditioned? >> we condemn the settlement activity on occupied land. they would not reenter
negotiations about a halt to such activity. of course someone can understand the rationale of that. but the result is that part of the preconditioned, no negotiations they placed, and it would be better to get back to the negotiations, even while a settlement in history that is the sort of notion that i am talking about. >> thank you, mr. speaker. the constable in what we are suggesting, that it should be dependent on the willingness to give access to mechanisms for implementing international law. how does that look? >> i don't think any honorable member has given a successful explanation could this will only be resolved if there is a successful negotiation. i haven't heard anyone say any alternative that.
there is a lot of willingness and desire to express opinions and to make gestures and so on. but no one has contradicted that. and if that is the case, that it requires a successful negotiation, then it requires us to encourage both parties into the negotiation to allow will need to do in the negotiation. that is a successful logic. >> thank you, mr. speaker. they played a role in obtaining a cease-fire. what do you suggest and bringing normality to this troubled region? >> absolutely. there is a major opportunity for the new egypt to do that now. last week, i congratulated him on the effort that egypt has made in the efforts on further
negotiations. trying to open up gaza and prevent the smuggling of weapons. if that can be achieved, they can continue their efforts on broader issues. >> no one would doubt the integrity or honesty, or the diligent ways trying to bring about peace of the middle east, but we are concerned that we are on the wrong side of the argument. we should be with honorable friends on the side of the house have referred to the nature of 6% against -- [inaudible] the secretary is saying that we should not place preconditions for the palestinians should not place preconditions, and yet
that is precisely what we are doing. we are putting ourselves in the wrong side of the argument, i am afraid. >> on both sides of the house, we are on the side of the middle east peace. it is a two state solution. our view is we should use our vote in a way that maximizes the chances of negotiations. and i know that there are strong feelings as have been illustrated. he will understand that we cannot discern in our foreign policy our prior opinions. there are a number of issues on which we do not agree, on a conclusion that would be reached. >> mr. speaker, given the distinct history of our country and the legacy left behind in the region, does the foreign secretary agree that we have a
unique ability to show leadership and courage for the palestinians and israelis who want peace. and surely, this can be one way to signal that leadership. i ask them to think again. >> we have a unique responsibility and we do not have the same power as in the 1940s, although we do have it in a new and different form. we have a great responsibility as a member of the u.n. u.n. security council. but the problem is giving hope to palestinians and israelis, that is a very important point that she made. it is important that we do that and give hope to people on both sides of that divide. and that is what i am seeking to
do today. >> recognizing this position to an extent, but i'm sorry to say i think there are a lot of fundamentals -- [inaudible] given that countries around the world are shifting their position, we risk losing influence on the matter, and giving standing in that region, by publicly building tomorrow, would we not be sending a signal to both sides that only a political solution is viable to the situation? >> i think that our inference will be very important. whatever happens in the vote. however we both come as a member of the security council, having good relations that we do with the palestinian authority, also with israel in our own special relationship with the united states. our influence will continue to be very important. that absolutely will be --
[inaudible] >> the strengthening of such palestinian opinions -- >> there is a future of a rightly desire to see the leadership making the necessary concessions to each other. talking about the settlement based on the borders with jerusalem as a shared capital of a place for refugees. that would've given him real
hope. so everything that we do should be cultivated to encourage that, and that was had dictated our policies to mr. shannon, sticking to you in the house. the palestinian authority's divide those to be killed in allegations of giving information to israel. one in palestine who could not have given any information whatsoever. it is obvious that palestine has not moved away from terrorism and they must confirm and not agree to enhance palestine at this point for any reason to. >> .com again, is the other side of the argument and some of what we have heard during the questioning. certainly, hamas is an organization that has committed atrocities of human life. i have referred and answered to
what hamas needs to do and how there is a need for that. >> tomorrow in "washington journal", julie rudner discusses the health care a lot of potential hurdles in state courts. >> amtrak's inspector general said that by improving its invoice process, amtrak has discovered $20 million of overpayment rate the comments came during a hearing on amtrak's reorganization plan. this is a little less than two hours.
>> washington worked its way up, and then he went to harvard law school. and then one of his brothers immigrated out west illinois to galena, illinois. he arrived after about a month's journey by ship and stagecoach and trained. and he arrived on steamboat in the smutty mining town. they established a law practice in a log cabin. he became a very successful lawyer in galen. he ran for congress for four terms. then he befriended abraham lincoln, obviously from illinois. and then ulysses s. grant, also from galen. as they were on the rise, washburn was a close colleague
during the civil war. and after grant was elected president, he initially appointed washington the secretary of state, and at that time, washburn became very ill and his family feared for his life. after 10 days, he cemented his recommendation for resignation. so ulysses s. grant offered him the position of minister of france. the ambassador of france two michael hill on washburn during the franco war and the only diplomats to stay during the siege of paris, providing political and humanitarian support. "q&a", sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. [inaudible conversations]
>> in mourning, and i would like to call this hearing of the house transportation and infrastructure committee to order. we are pleased to conduct the school committee oversight hearing on amtrak. the title is getting back on track. the review of amtrak's virtual reorganization. so welcome, and we have one panel of witnesses today.
the order of business is i will provide an opening statement and provide background. i will introduce mr. elijah cummings and others who wish to be heard. then we will turn to our witnesses and we will hear from them and go to questions and i am pleased to welcome everyone this morning. >> this is one of a number that we have held forth in a series of committee hearings on amtrak and u.s. passenger rail power. we actually have two more scheduled. one will be on thursday, december 3, novel focus on high-speed and intercity passenger rail. the grant program. and then we will have the final hearing on this important subject. thursday's 13, of december, that will be on the northeast corridor.
ironically, it is looking at some of the flood and storm damage, many of the transportation and infrastructure was impacted by a huge amount of damage. new york city is incredibly resilient. they are coming back well. they have about 95% of the city that was hit. i understand that mayor bloomberg will be in town today.
choosing topics and we have to reflect the moment. a lot of people when they go home, they go to bed and they count sheep or read a novel. i had a great article about amtrak. i thought it was quite interesting, particularly interesting because it outlined some of the work that amtrak has been doing regarding its reorganization and the structural management -- the way
in 2005, the reviews have called for improvement again and the organization of management strategy. in 2010, amtrak released another report. and as a result of that 2010 report, amtrak released their five-year strategic plan of corporate goals and new organization structure and target that they intend to use to create more transparency and
accountability. that is what we will focus on today, where we are in the process. where we have come on. we will hear from mr. boardman and inspector general and a representative of workers of labor and see how they assess that progress. the strategic plan that is now underway, hopefully, we will hear to be fully implemented by next year. the manager of business is -- and we will see how that hasn't come to pass.
the purpose of that is to establish performance goals that are outlined as the strategic plan so the profits and losses can be addressed and also accounted for. past amtrak managers have been held accountable for what has happened in their department. that is not my evaluation. is the evaluation of several of these studies. also in the past, there have been amtrak attempted reorganizations without clear goals, unfortunately. i hope to better understand the amtrak's strategic plans, corporate goals, and reorganizations. specific progress on the reorganization. and also learn how it will improve performance accountability and cost savings. i approach this with an open
mind. amtrak has a strategic plan that is very important. it requires a transformative approach with what they have done in the past and it is not just rearranging the chairs on the deck of the titanic. we want to make certain that there is positive progress. i'm a fiscal standpoint, everyone is focused on the fiscal cliff. sometimes people give me a hard time for focusing on amtrak, but we have put subsidies into amtrak. almost half a billion in subsidies and almost a billion in some of the capital improvements. over the years, that commitment remains pretty much the same. so we do have a responsibility with taxpayer dollars to make
certain, this operation, which is highly subsidized, and we did do a hearing on the past three or four hearings that we did, maybe we could put that on the board of federal subsidies. the average cost of a government-subsidized ticket, $46.33. julie and i read through the report pretty carefully, amtrak has made progress, so the losses in that great. the average ticket subsidy simply by taking 29 million passengers and dividing it by underwriting the subsidy. other modes of mass transit.
federal support for that is the goal of this. sometimes we do become harsh critics when money is lost or we see a lack of progress in some areas. but our goal is to reduce the federal reliance on federal support, not as one of the objectives in addition to finding the specifics on the progress of their structural organization and reorganization. i will introduce our witnesses shortly. but let me yield to mr. cummings, who is serving as
ranking member at this point. >> into very much, mr. chairman. it is certainly a pleasure to be here. i thank you for calling this hearing. mr. chairman, quite often are federal employees are unseen and unnoticed and on appreciated and on about it. i hear so much criticism about federal employees and government employees in general. i want to take a moment before i even start to think joyce rhodes for her 25 years of public service. on behalf of the side of the aisle. i know that all of us feel this way. [applause]
more than likely this is her last hearing. she has always worked fairly with our members. with our stuff on the side, she has done everything in her power to make sure that not only the congress is served well, but that the country is served well, too. we hate to lose her td jakes said his son came to him, his son as a singer and he is about to go back to college and has tons of money -- it may not be the right thing for me. and his father went up to him
and said, son, it is the thing that will lead you to the right thing. if it's not the thing. so this has been, this has been a part of the journey. we hope it has been one that has been meaningful. [inaudible] may god bless you, and thank you so much. thank you for your service. >> of course. [applause]
we have great cooperation from both sides of the aisle. in order to pass the legislation. the authorization of passenger rail service the guideline that we go by in the authorization -- it wasn't for her dedication and commitment incredible knowledge, we have had the privilege to have you working with us on the majority side.
thank you for yielding. he met mr. chairman, thank you for scheduling this hearing. following the report entitled amtrak management and systemic problems require actions to improve efficiency and accountability -- that was the name of the report -- i was asked by the vote lead democrat on this special working group --
obviously that made it difficult for amtrak to focus solely on operating the company or on developing long-term goals and performance benchmarks. we hear a lot in the congress about uncertainty. subsequently, congress enacted the passenger rail investment improvement act and we committed to the value of the service that amtrak provides. this commitment was expanded by president obama in the congress through the american reinvestment act, which provided funding for capital projects that had been tabled due to years of inadequate funding. it is clear that the investments we have made our supported by
the traveling public. the school year 2012, amtrak achieved the highest ridership levels in history. that is major news. more than 31 million passengers in this fiscal year, the service appears poised to continue to grow. against this record of success, fortunately, that misguided platform was resoundingly rejected by the american people who have supported the president's call to move forward by implementing policies.
i don't want people watching this and thinking that it's something that it's not. that said, while we must conduct a thorough oversight, our committee has now held seven hearings of the subcommittee levels of the 112th congress at amtrak and today we are convening and examining a strategic plan that has not even been fully implemented. appropriate insight, i hope we can use this to continue the success of amtrak to grow and increase implementation of the
reforms that mr. joseph boardman has proposed. the space we need to fully implement plans to acquire them every few weeks. without them i yield back. >> thank you for holding this hearing today. it is noted that amtrak has a record of 30.2 million passengers traveling on amtrak in 2011. with that, more than 300 daily trains that connect the district
of columbia and canada and operate intercity trains and partnerships. the 15 states and 13 commuter rail agencies to provide a variety of services. at times, this committee has been critical of the way that amtrak operates trains across this great country, but amtrak has had record low ridership. in fact, that is completely the opposite, as reported. in fact, it is booming this year with roughly ridership records. in each month of the current fiscal year, they have posted the highest totals for that particular month is the final month of september, also expected to be a new record. in addition, in july, it was the single best ridership month in the history of amtrak. unfortunately, the recently passed reauthorization bill, it was noticeably absent in the
final form despite many of the efforts on this committee. suggestion before this committee is that no federal funds to amtrak will be allowed to sue any legal action in court. a 25% cut in funding and is even more alarming, not having a vision for high-speed rail networks. these possible legislative actions are detrimental to the transportation opportunities for all americans. the alternative to build more roles in five more cards and consume more oil should not be your only solution. in fact, according to the dot, in comparison, in 1958 through 2012 from the united states has invested $1.4 trillion in our nation's highway. 538 billion in aviation. 266 billion in transit. yet, amtrak, which was created in 1971, has received a small fraction of that spending of
$41 billion. when you consider that compared to the oil and gas industry, we have spent, to bring that together, we have spent more than one year in the energy industry than we have spent an entire life of the program of amtrak. clearly, there seems to be an imbalance and it's not one that should be continued. regarding the vision of high-speed rail, but amtrak services, one of those alternatives. it may only achieve the average of 83 miles per hour, along the nec, and surely that is definitely better than the long delays of major interstate systems that we have. this committee should consider the role to facilitate the development of critical infrastructure and the continuation of one of america's greatest assets, and that is
passenger rail. i would like to thank all the witnesses before the committee today. i look forward to hearing your testimony about how the reorganization of amtrak, can be done to make it a greater service. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> we have three of the top five business quarters in our california area. two of them are supported totally by the state. pacific shoreline, 2.8 million. i will be looking at that very closely. it has a 2.8 million ridership. all three are state service programs.
we must have a senior-level position with amtrak to work with them on their programs, and this is especially important. section 209, it negatively impacts the state of california. i also want to -- i want to add my 2 cents to the ranking member, elijah cummings, his statement on amtrak. they have done a beautiful job. i hope we will continue and we will continue to ensure that not only do they provide good service, but that they are recognized for the work that they do for our ridership. without them i yield back the balance of my time and i think the chair. >> i think the gentlelady. ms. johnson? >> [inaudible] >> in october of 2005, there was a report issued to the then
chairman about the lack of a strategic plan. the report identified that without a comprehensive corporate mission, amtrak's business practices were lacking and could not ensure consistent and improved corporate performance. in august of 2010, they set forth a strategic planning process. and the basis for the 2011 plan -- through 2013. finally, there appears to be a significant performance and accountability improvement.
thank you, and i yield back. the president and ceo of amtrak and mr. joseph boardman, thank you. you are now recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman, mr. elijah cummings, joyce, i will be on your board until the questions will come from me for the future of us. i am glad you are there. you bring energy to a very important problem of safety for railroads, and i appreciate the work you have done here. angela was sitting in the
corner, mr. chairman is the one who wrote that article and i have winter for this hearing this morning. [laughter] she is already asking for another interview. >> what i would like to start with and talk about this morning is that i have been amtrak customer is a state commissioner of transportation. >> instead of using an ambulance or a very high cost and truck
how do they do their jobs, should they be done differently for the future. we have made some changes on an interfaces. [inaudible] why do we have that kind of a impact. my perspective was that he needs to bring that group of people together in a very different way for the future. so that reorganization begins almost immediately in terms of understanding the strength of
this agency and its men and women. the work that they did and how they work with us or with management. and we needed a way to get in our. we went in under a basis of a safe program, which was a different way of looking at safety and the railroad industry had hoped that generally in the past. the way i have learned about that was from federal employees. those federal employees were part of the federal railroad administration. and they saw the level of safety got to a certain place and didn't go any lower. it is a different structure today of the rewards for safety.
what we really need is a behavioral-based safety program. which is what amtrak now has you stay safer. it also brought together people who work in collaboration to resolve problems. we don't intend on that kind of collaboration with women and men to do that work. amtrak's ridership record in last 10 years -- we have actually reduced our operating subsidy. there's a difference in our view of operating subsidy and taxable subsidy. because of amtrak, in its first iteration mark and 71, was taking over the loser passenger railroad system from the private print industry. and it did not include the northeast corridor. if only included long-distance trains across this nation, and congress contemplated, as did the executive site at that time, that subsidies would be needed.
amtrak corner except when you add capital assistance and i understand that. and the need for capital assistance is so great on the northeast corridor that that subsidy need will continue for a long time as recently exposed in storm cindy, where we lost one of her substations because we didn't make the investment. we as a nation, as the region didn't make the investment to make sure the water didn't come then to the substation end and the ability for us to have the level of service into the station in new york city because the skates were so old and he was scheduled to get done as part of the program and it's now scheduled to be done as a part of the gateway program, which is a discussion that this body needs to have for the future about how do we make those investments in infrastructure
and i'm hearing that today in many areas. a subsidized cost is about the long-distance trains for the business model doesn't work the same as the level of service along the northeast corridor and the need to connect the service. we have to be careful coming in to reorganize amtrak. we have to find out whether it was the gao report or whether it was the ig report, we followed the ig structure in terms of developing a strategic plan. there's no question about that and i think mr. alves will say that in this process. we knew other elements had to occur as the gao pointed out in the metrics. one of the things that i feel and felt that i brought to this
process was bases most of my career going into failing bus systems in bringing them back in delivering a different structure across the country were passenger transportation. while rail is a little different, it's still similar in many ways. it's understanding what we have to get done in making sure we have are able to measure goals that are clear and to see if they are successful. probably, we see that a writer should. we see that in reducing federal funds. but articles need to be much more specific so we can hold ourselves accountable and employees accountable for what needs to be done to improve service to the customer because the customer is the major focus of what this company needs to be all about.
it's not about moving trains. it's about moving people and that is the foundation. the people you move had to be people that feel they are fairly dealt with. every organization is a commitment to the values, integrity and the spirit of service and a desire to improve, respect entrepreneur will, knowing that way we have heroic acts we don't have here is. we need everybody, women and men to deliver what we really are looking for. it isn't about the ceo, the union later. it's about all the work in a collaborative faction. we finally meet, but sometimes first of all forget this is the process because what you are looking for are people making
decisions and they have to make them every single day. sometimes they don't make the right one and they need to do it in the best they can learn from them for the future. that's always up for is that learning. at another time click here in front of me. it's not working. >> we gave you double so far. >> so i can step back and answer questions for the future. we do have a strategic plan. we do have an organizational process. it's different than what was in the past. it's the nature of its organization rather than a silent organization. and it isn't complete and in some ways that they listen to folks, i said it's never going to be completely complete because things shoot for
example, i'm not sure we will hire a general manager of commuter services because it's gone down and been subject of a previous hearing. that may not be the best way to deliver that for the future. we may rethink that and that is one with not so that this time. we felt the general manager for long distance. we felt the general manager for the northeast. priscilla general manager for state-supported services in all stop. >> thank you. look at back to you. you've covered a wide range of what we are interested in hearing about. we will turn out to the inspector general, mr. alves. you are welcome and inspect her general at amtrak, good to have you here back again. >> good morning, mr. chairman, mica, mr. cummings and members of the committee. thank you for the opportunity to discuss how report have supported or complemented amtrak's ongoing efforts to operate more effectively by
focusing on customers and the bottom line. and my nifty hearings focus on amtrak's ongoing reorganization, my testimony will center on reports related to improving amtrak's operational and financial farm in. before a dresses report, i would like to highlight the fact hour worked generally support ongoing improvement initiatives. over the last couple of years but the tourists and amtrak management have been focused on improving amtrak's operational, financial and customer service performance. to illustrate, because the board now has seven of the nine members authorized by priya, it's been able to reconstitute two important board committees. the audit and finance committee and the personnel committee. this is help support to provide stronger oversight of management at dvds.
similarly, amtrak management is taking key actions, including issuing a strategic plan that meets best practice guidelines and provides a roadmap to help him track become more focused on customers on the bottom line. the reorganization initiative that is the focus of today's hearings is directly linked to strategic plans, commitment to organize around lines of business. turning to our reports, general at amtrak is taking positive action on the recommendations. for example, our august 2010 report found that although amtrak had made various attempts to develop a strategic plan, none had been successful. the need for amtrak to have a meaningful strategic plan was first identified in a 2005 gao report. we recommended amtrak develop a strategic plan utilizing a process that incorporates best
practices for strategic planning. amtrak agreed in the plan was issued in november 2011. amtrak's board of directors also requested we review amtrak's risk-management part says that our march 2012 report showed amtrak did not have a systematic enterprise wide framework for identifying, analyzing and managing risks. the board chairman and president and ceo responded once they understood commitment required they would provide guidance to management about amtrak's plans to implement a risk management framework. we've discussed her views on the way forward with the board and understand the board is in the process of determining how will address this issue. starting in 2009, we issued a series of reports on human capital management. our july 2011 report found only
limited progress made in implementing our prior recommendations. in response, mr. boardman agreed to make human capital management a priority. since then come amtrak hired a new chief human capital officer and he's developed in his implementing an action plan to address the recommendations. we also issued two reports on amtrak's food and beverage program. in september 2012, we reported food and beverage activities were being carried out by two departments and activities were not well coordinated. management agreed to consolidate the two and did so on a sober first, 2012. saint 295, we've issued a series of reports identifying more than 83 million overpayments on inaccurate invoices from house railroads. amtrak agreed to improve its invoice review process and has done so. in addition, this year amtrak
recovered over $20 million of overpayments previously identified. in conclusion, the company is focused on operating more like a profit-making business. it is in the early stages of implementing many improvement initiatives and we believe that's the same these initiatives over the long-term and effectively implementing them will be the key to success. mr. chairman, this concludes my testimony and i'd be glad to answer any questions that you are other members of the committee may have. >> thank you. old questions, but will not recognize mr. james stem of the united states transportation unions workers and were very pleased to have him back and also look forward to his testimony. you're welcome and wreck a nice, mr. stem. >> thank you, mr. chairman and
ranking member treatment of him. we appreciate the opportunity to testify. about 19,000 amtrak workers and i today bring message represents about 3200 career professional amtrak employees. i would also like to revise my remarks by adding the five that i have a personal opportunity to work in real passenger service in a river through the five years preceding the creation of amtrak. i witnessed firsthand the kind of the equipment, services that were there, the attempts by the river is to get out of the business because the liability with a major concern and it was a money-losing prospect. i also had the opportunity to work on amtrak trains during the next 10 years following the creation of amtrak and was
embarrassed at the shape of the equipment at amtrak inherited when they first started this process. so mr. boardman clearly identified that as a major issue. i would like to continue my remarks by pointing out that labor doesn't have expertise in business organizations. our members are normally on the other end of that. our interaction with amtrak has been very positive and creation of the plan. we've had no complaints about amtrak's reorganization and we support this effort and commend amtrak in the operations. we also commend amtrak for applying modern technology and managing the resources that amtrak has in their personnel. now that amtrak is not operating from day to day in a survival mode with costa threats to its very existence, we are confident this will plan organization will focus assets and workers in
areas for the best improvements in service will happen. are amtrak members part of the transportation team who operates trains, moving passengers to destination safely and on time. the site to view requires simultaneous coordination with every aspect of operation for mechanical inspections and repairs to maintenance and repairs that tracks the signals to positioning and cleaning up the equipment and dispatching of inner-city commuter trains to multiple destinations in many directions. the kimchi juice is not a simple issue because it also requires changes in other areas corresponding to ensure continuity. consolidating leaders of responsibility this organization plan in our view is a productive move.
we are encouraged amtrak made reductions in management last year and the reorganization plan proposes to reassign even more management positions. amtrak should earn support of congress for this upgrade an organizational structure and peered amtrak operates the safety and customer service, woven together as top priorities. safety comes first and on-time performance is the goal. this upgrade of operation furthers these priorities and positions and track to the demand for significant increases in real passenger service. amtrak operating crews are among the most productive workers in the system. every amtrak employee should also be placed in a project physician who supports the needs of customer service and to manage growth of operations. our members are ready and eager to work. congress passed amtrak to share plan on how to improve services
and reduce travel times between major publication centers. the next generation plan and identifies the funding requirement. ridership set a record that shares mr. cummings and mr. boardman indicated and with an aging population, higher gasoline and instability of the field resources. highway and aviation congestion, millions of travelers will choose to ride the train to the services available independent. amtrak workers are prepared that while chewing and to provide services to our customers. the first to succeed, congress must provide amtrak with consistent and predict to bow multiyear funding for modernization and capacity at grade. beyond reorganization, what amtrak really needs this dramatic increases in capital
investments. amtrak's next-generation plans for the northeast corridor is outstanding. it will cut transit time and have between washington and new york as well as between new york or boston. they need to increase beats an upgrade infrastructure has to take it transporting americans in energy-efficient manner. we have labor or amtrak's partners. we urge the committee to allow amtrak the latitude to be organized if they so see the need, but more importantly to authorize substantial amounts of additional funds for amtrak's capital needs. amtrak is essential role in financing a self-funded pension that this committee and 2,002,001 reformed. changed in the federal treatment of amtrak such as significant
privatization could jeopardize the solvency of their system that affects 270,000 career railroad employees around the country. the americans won a national inner-city network in amtrak is uniquely able to fill that need. highways in commercial aviation amount of on meet the natures transportation needs. court nation of air and rail passenger services should be mandated to free more air to provide timely rail services for shorter travel distances and 300-mile ranges. a modern system is a necessary part of a palance transportation system. congress should recognize intercity rail service requires public subsidies just as airline and both partners also. many executives support the
court nation of air and rail services to increase capacity by existing airports. i also want to make in closing, want to make sure this committee is aware of our full support for the expansion of our capacity as well. amtrak and freight railroads were together as partners. both have capacity needs to be mutual goals. we support expansion of amtrak services and understand this expansion also must address capacity needs of our freight rail partners and i'll be happy to answer any questions. >> thank you for your testimony. we share a commitment to making certain that amtrak employees that are treated fairly as we move forward and also that we meet our obligations as far as their commitments, retirement
pension benefit and other items. we've always advocated that. thank you for your leadership on issues, mr. stem. i think mr. boardman said he was eight years at amtrak did not have a labor agreements in place. is that correct? you will recall at the time i felt that was uncalled for, but that was the case, wasn't it? >> the case with their brothers and sisters in union members in the freight systems and that's why it's a government should support service such as amtrak should be hauled to a higher standard. the unions had to go to court to get relief. but that's not the way to run a railroad for passenger rail system. so i think history in that regards speaks for itself.
mr. boardman, when did you submit the five-year strategic plan? >> it was approved in october 2011. >> i point out that now i have greatest respect for the opinion of the ranking member. sometimes the other side accuses me of micromanaging. i know consider viable as micromanaging when a 2005 coming gao said they should have a strategic plan. in 2010, the ig also, mr. alves, didn't you also say they should have a strategic plan and there was that one? is that correct? >> for the record in 2011, i think i became chairman that year. mr. boardman did come forward with a strategic plan.
i have n-november if you set october, but that is correct. sometimes our role is one of oversight, one of prodding, one of making sure that what should be in place -- i come from a business background. if this is a corporation, which is subsidized heavily by public support come in the very least they can do is have a business plan. that plan should be flexible. let's take the inspector general's report en bloc at the implementation of a strategic plan. the me preface by remarks by saying there's no one who's a stronger supporter of passenger rail service in the united states than this guy right here. it is good. i'm a fiscal conservative. you can move more people for less. as far as the environment energy, it's an absolute winner.
but we have to do it with the least amount of subsidy and god forbid there should be a prophet in operations that we could actually achieve that if we work together. so let's take the report together. first of all, the board of directors had organizational problems from very top of the board. i was very pleased for sitting this hearing and i ask questions before. we went to a nine-member board and seven members of the board had been appointed. two democrat appointees were lacking until yesterday the white house admitted these two and i'm pleased to see that and i hope everyone helps get the full complement of the board in place. sometimes it takes a hearing to get action under its implementation of a strategic plan for highlighting that the board should be filled.
and maybe they did that at their own volition, but i'm very pleased that it was done. let's look at the key folks in place and you divided into six divisions. i'm very pleased to hear what she said about possibly not going forward with some of the commuter activities of the organization plan of the strong hiring additional personnel in that area. we also find talking about readership, mr. boardman, the highest percentage of increase is since he supported rats, is that correct? >> yes. >> okay. next year, it is next year? states will now have to step it to the plate and pay full support. that's correct, mr. boardman? >> into the two and nine.
>> correct, under the actually will help your bottom line pretty dramatically. it's about a hundred million dollars a year, some of the calculations, is that correct? >> that is within the range. it may be different than that, but yes. >> i notice mr. joe mchugh sits behind you with a smiley face that says it's important to help states make the case for amtrak's the legislatures will invest in that. that's one reason we went to let your feet to the fire to make your passenger rail service in a cooperative effort with this faith attractive and looking forward to working with you. again, we have a change in the neck dignity and we'll have to see how that develops. the other positions, and baleful vice president managers, mr. boardman? >> the general managers, one is a vice president.
but the northeast corridor infrastructure and development. >> began here when we do the northeast corridor. we want to hear his report. >> i don't know what else a number not. >> and the two have been. >> will just subpoena him. >> i have to control everything he says, mr. chairman. no, i'm kidding. and i now have to fight this violent joe mchugh space. >> eat another smile. >> but we've moved forward in the business lines. but the other piece come which had not been so long winded on other parts of what i said earlier is really the major part of this. we have a structure achieves. chief mechanical officer, chief engineer, chief safety officer. and they set the standards and the budget necessary for the business chiefs to carry out so you have not just a customer focus, but a bottom-line focus
and there is the expertise they are necessary for us to make improvements and mechanical maintenance and improvements in safety and all the things needed to support these general managers to get their jobs done. some of them are filled. some of them are posted and they will also be finished off of this organization. >> again, i look at the areas where we have the same money or you may be losing some opportunities in providing phone service and service. another area of the inspector general highlighted and has been of interest to the committee. we did a hearing on the is the food service. you have addressed some changes in my and improving some of the controls. what was the recommendation? i can't find it in the report,
with a consolidation of the two activities overseeing food-service? >> yes, part of those whose service was provided or overseen the transportation department with operations. the commissary and food delivery function was overseen in the marketing department and what we found is they work toward meeting fully. >> has not been implemented, mr. boardman? >> yes. >> and again i'm not micromanaging, but through the same 79 lead dollar senses service for the cab to audience two years ago and that increases to $84.5 million this past year, you have a problem. yesterday i did not order on any thing i've amtrak's i save the taxpayers as far as purchasing food. it is a problem.
in the structural reorganization , the recommendations that they make sense and can be effect does that are recommended at the inspector general implemented so it appears that is being addressed. finally, let me address again a part of the report. it says in about again a sellout and some of the amtrak services. in contrast, availability and reliability remains favorite to claim strictly for the remainder of amtrak's equipped and compared with the seller streamside availability, there's improvement of 14%. the rest of amtrak's equipment has stayed roughly the same compared with the sellers reliability improvement of 11%
and the rest of amtrak's equipment is on average less reliable than before. that is a concern. >> yes, i can address that. we agree it is getting older and therefore is becoming more unreliable. we've ordered new electric locomotives on the northeast corridor to make substantial improvement. reliability centered maintenance is an excellent way to go. it is something that's helped us a lot with the fleet. that is their premium service and certainly we want to maximize its use. use the same plan with the rest of the cub any right now the same way, would probably text 600 to 700 more employees. we don't see the balance yet that we need to increase revenues necessary to pay for that compared to where we are right now with the reliability
and we really looked at the premium service differently because the fares were so much higher that process. >> i didn't put this -- mention this before, but out of the report images for the record can amtrak's food food and beverage service has incurred a direct operating loss of over $526 million in the last six years. half-billion is not chump change and i just want them in the record. >> yet, i understand. >> finally, also is recommended from the report, the vice president operations has agreed into a develop a five-year plan for reducing direct operating losses. mr. boardman, can you shed some light on that? >> well, it goes back to the entire structure of opera trained to do in terms of accountability.
one of the issues that amtrak's early on was the lack of accountability and lack of understanding of what the budget was in management of the budget that people had available to them. and so, a lot of the strategic plan comes out in how you are going to measure the net tricks and what are your goals and how do you get organizational excellence and what are you looking forward in terms of financial excellent come in terms of maximizing revenue, optimizing ratio in doing the normal things we need to get done and holding each one of those folks accountable to a performance measurement system personally in their operation to get that done. so that's really the structure for the operations of the whole company will begin to really do. we saw it early on and i complimented for recommending the commissary, but that is something we saw that we needed
to change quite early. the problem is you have to operate the railroad while you're making these changes, so you have to be prepared to make the change should in a way that makes sense. you have to have it tied in together to the rest of the structure. so we did that and i think ted and i talked about that early on those kinds of things need to happen. we are still doing that as we find ways to make those improvements. >> thank you. we will note that amtrak is now taking all credit cards at least on the train i was done, which is something you recommended we hadn't gotten implemented that has made progress on that and most of the advice you to get a receipt from the café, too. so you're making good progress on that to mr. cummings. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman.
to mr. boardman, i want you to be real clear. i know you are, but i want to make it real clear than on the sides of the aisle we want effect this and efficiency and it does no one any good, including the employees if we are not zeroing in on effectiveness and he and i assume from your comments that's what you been trying to do. but i may just go to this area and i want you to listen to me very carefully mr. inspector general on this issue because he raised it. when you tell me that any either you were able to recover over $20 million in overpayments, i've got to tell you that sends
all kinds of muscles in my head. first question is why do we have the overpayment? second question is when you're talking about strategic plans in the organization, there must be somebody who's responsible for making this overpayments. in other words, somebody in charge. and what have we done to address that? how much is still out there because i can tell you what happens is that somebody's got something against you, politics stuff like that indecent damage and rightfully so. it's like setting yourself up. so help you with this. talk about these overpayments and talk about -- does the strategic plan say we project that we may have x amount of overpayments and you're talking about measurements,
mr. boardman. is the strategic landscape we will recover acts? that means somebody has money they're not supposed to have and that is money we could be using to address our issues here. >> thank you. a day to provide some background on this issue that had been the long-standing issue with amtrak is going back to when amtrak was formed. in this unit, which beat the invoices from host railroads for operations over their track, there really was no billing review process. for years, the company relied on the spec are general to come in the years after the fact and reconstruct the payments and identify overpayments. i think in 2009 or so, we
recommended that the basic business process at the company should have to review a bill before they pay it. the company agreed and they worked aggressively and hard to implement a billing review process. the second issue we had is that the billing review was in the same group that was structuring the agreements with the railroad and we thought that was too close and needed to be separation of duties. so we also recommend that the billing review process be separated from the group negotiating and working with the host railroads. the company agreed to that as well. it took a couple years and these things do take time. for the company to put the structure in place would develop processes, policies and work guys. but at this point, the function is an existent and the group is
reviewing vail road bills as they come in them before they are paid. so we think that the problem -- >> are you saying you think we have stopped the hemorrhaging and now we need to sort of go backwards and see what we may have lost. is that a fair statement? >> what we are doing is finishing up the last of our rail road billing review audits. we have covered most of the large amounts of money that are out there and i think about the end of the year will issue the final audit reports and at that point will turn everything over to the company. i'm not sure that it is at this point to go back five or 10 years and try and recover small amounts of money. so we think we are covering the bulk of the money and our audit reports in the company can move
forward to leave from here. >> one quick thing to you, mr. boardman. he made a big deal. you spend a lot of your time talking about safety. i want to know what you mean by that. you say when you went and tried to do your review, you figured out that thing with safety. but does that mean? >> it means that the system itself if you don't have the safe transportation, whether it's a bus or aviation system from the what have customers because he won't trust the ability to get on the train and be safe. you're not going to have accidents. >> which are saying right now, this is what i want to hear. >> pitcher well-trained
employees, that they know what to do in an emergency. but they were capable of handling our passengers in a very safe, efficient manner. >> if we begin to have those problems. but it was also among employees. it's not just a passenger. it's also the employees. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> anyone else? >> go ahead. >> thank you. mr. boardman, i'm going to ask a fundamental question. can a passenger rail and in this country be profitable? spinnaker northeast corridor is profitable. the way we operate in terms of the cost itself. >> as a nation across the country, if you have the rest of the amtrak does across the country, is it possible to be
profitable in your view? >> that without a policy decision by congress, which is lacking here. >> what decision would not be? >> the congress believes with very basic transportation network in this nation is necessary. they decided that 1871 and several other times, but there needs to be a decision, just like a decision every day that we're going to invest in a highway system or aviation system. for example, 50,000 employees at d.o.t. that are focused on aviation and there's only 60,000 people in d.o.t. so congress has a lot to decide what it wants in passenger rail across the nation. >> basically passenger rail without government subsidization is not possible.
>> even the curbside benefits, without the subsidization of being able to pick up on the curve and not sustain all the overhead costs, not pay for capital and the highways could not be profitable. however, they are now in washington moved into the terminals. so there is no mode of passenger transportation including aviation that can be profitable only from the fares. >> that make sense to me. >> mr. alves, he made a comment that amtrak needs to be run and basically what she said more like a profitable business. amtrak was set up 40 years ago to be a profitable business. so it's taken us 40 years. what did she mean by that? for example, running more like a business and less like a government agency. are there specific things that need to be done? and they've got the strategic
plan and i understand that. but people always say that, they say we need to run development more like a business. that's a statement that can be made in the same think there's a lot of smart people working on this issue and taken 40 years and we still argue over the points. >> it has taken a long time. amtrak actually is a business. it is not a government agency and does not, i don't think, operate as a government. it operates as a business. >> in that respect, and operates like a government because when we lose money that doesn't matter. >> amtrak relies on the government. amtrak for less than the governments for its existence and survival on the subsidy both operating and capital subsidy. i think what is different now is
there is a focus within the company at the leadership levels the board of directors on making the company can operate as efficiently as a candid focus on the customer. this idea of delineating different customers and moving to lines of business and developing accountability mechanisms is really focused on the bottom line. and i think that is what has been significantly missing in the past is a focus on running the trains. we can run the trains, but can we do it as efficiently as we possibly can? that is the new focus driven by strategic plan and is driven by the whole concept of organizing around lines of business and holding people accountable for achieving a goal.
but always in the future are going to be much more focused on the bottom line and financial performance. that is my sense of what's happening. >> thank you for that. i guess my sense is from a congressional stand point there should be financial pressures on amtrak from congress otherwise we would never have any of the things you're all trying to do to streamline the operation. the impression, you know, we should always open-ended they found things are increase funding to this agency without agency for or subsidize this organization that organization without some degree of financial pressure for efficiency, safety another thing is something i think we need to avoid. so obviously congress wants to make sure you have the amount of money you need to run your organization, but there also
needs to be financial pressure on an organization to be more efficient and it sounds like what you're doing is hopefully going to be very successful. thank you. the yield back. >> the gentleman yield that. ms. norton. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. this is a question for mr. alves and mr. boardman. and your inspector general's report is a troubling section on human capital management in which you have found, and i'm quoting you now, only limited progress in implementing your recommendations, your human top recommendations. the most troubling sentence is the one that says amtrak -- in addition, amtrak was increasingly at risk of encountering schools shortages as headaches. i'm a long-time employees
retire. first, i want to know where the gaps are when we're talking about safety and risk. and then i really have to ask mr. boardman, what is so difficult about creating training programs perhaps for employees that are already at amtrak so people who are already trained, could train to the next level and replace those retiring. i need to know more about the skill shortage risk, how serious it is and what can be done about it and i might say in the short term as people experience, as there is some downsizing, for example, from the congress come you may find where people respire retiring.
can i have a response on that? >> yes, what we found was amtrak human capital management was very focused on transaction type things, making the payroll this month, processing the payroll from a just in people description and wasn't really looking at strategic issues. industry and running it like a business has evolved over the last 20 years. the human capital management is considered a strategic issue that drives performance in the company. we issued a report and i didn't get a lot of traction in the company. who did a follow up to mr. boardman reacted positively and made it a priority.
the idea of people listening skills is fairly common. it is a concern now throughout the country that older employees are retiring. you have to have new people coming in. they have to be trained and developed and they have to be properly rewarded. there wasn't a strategic focus on those issues at amtrak. so mr. boardman made that a priority, we now have a new human capital officer and the one thing that mr. boardman directed him within three months he wanted a plan to address the strategic issues. that plan was delivered. there's been a lot of work on it that we meet periodically and
get briefed on the progress. i think things are underway to correct those deficiencies. i will let joe talked the details. >> it's really not all that hard. the problem is everything is a priority. it is a priority to results issues that have labor contracts. it's a priority to have internal controls. it's a priority to replace equipment. we didn't have a sweet plan in place until now. >> when they stop you for a second, mr. boardman. yours is a labor sensor business to matter how you look at it. and we are not talking necessarily, surely to some extent, but ran to people who have to be trained. he's got people. they're surely a job letter in
your business. my question is very specific. that is about training mentioned in the report, training, much of which would've been done done on the job anyway if you do with your own employees who want to move up. why aren't there such training programs in place, or are such training programs planned before you have a wholesale exodus of trained employees quite >> we are training now. a lot of what she said is old news and the inspector general was relating to that. we've got a major change in how we manage human capital family has a regular training program that improves operating services. >> including training people to move into spot that will be vacated by retirement? >> are not all in place yet. >> i just want to know the plan. so that would be training much
of that for people our be on the job who might move up? >> some of them will be trained. there will be succession plans for folks. we are in the middle of that now. that's part of the process. it's fairly early to have a hearing on what we try to accomplish in their strategic plan for moving forward with. >> might i suggest, especially in light of my next question, because secrecy retirements to the likes of which you have a plan for. >> one of them could be mined, but i understand. >> i certainly didn't mean you. >> i'm going to be 65. >> gasoline at 65? >> no, just saying. >> you better start succession planning right away. but in light of the fact that your business cannot proceed without trained people, without
putting those trains have risk and see list of priorities, i can only ask a really spare important given the fact you are to have a very well-trained workforce. you do not have the kinds of accidents to grab the headlines every other day. pathetic to keep it that way and even improvement. so i'm only asking the training, particularly at people on board because that's ardea trained workforce precede. i do have to ask about the reorganization when you are taking your business is and i understand the transparency there and i think it's good business practice, that amtrak received about a billion and a half roughly speaking of federal funds and about half a million of that was even for operation.
and the budget control act for the 2013 budget -- i had staff could be the number has $160 million cut in it and it could be worse. if we don't over the cliff and i assume we are not in same we're not going over the cliff, that could be even deeper cuts as we sit and try to reconcile the differences among us. does this cut and imperil any of your plans? and is your strategic plan take into account that you are as likely to see cuts rather than increases over the next several years? >> well, guess it does in part at least. we're making improvements and efficiencies by using new technologies. we've had the ability to have a
voluntary retirement program. it has some reduction in force insert areas in the company and try to place them other places. >> i hope those do not mean you shed the very skilled parts of your workforce. >> they were all in the non-agreement area. so they were not the labor force agreement for us. they were all in the management area about 3000 employees outside the union construct here. so when there was a need in many ways, it wasn't just a commissary to the operating site to make it more efficient. it is also looking at what marketing is really doing. and are they doing there were the same way now as they used to? for example, with travel agents, which has changed state chili from what it was in the past.
those things we are looking on this vote. so in part the kinds of changes we make in a strategic plan to help in that area. >> mr. chairman, if you could indulge me in one short question here. you know mr. boardman i've been particularly complimentary of your plan, your nonstrategic plan come your plan to bring high-speed rail to union station, very ambitious, very 21st century plan. does the strategic plan take into account amtrak's overhaul of union station and its operations or in the long run for high-speed rail? >> while yes it does. the way it does set us in the infrastructure and investment development of business line were talking about, the one that
stephen gardner is the vice president of because what we really looked at and said is one of the most important assets of united states and that is the northeast corridor from boston to washington and virginia would like to move it right onto richmond in the structure we are dealing with has real estate potential. it has high-speed rail potential. it supports 40 million people within 40 miles of the corridor and it needs to change how it's done. if you look at union station today, and i know you know well. you see many vendors they are providing services for spaces at all used to be dedicated to passengers. we need to re-create the space for passengers because they are coming in this high-speed rail will be coming about whether i and my team are talented enough to make that happen, someone will make that happen for the future because that is the most efficient way to move people in
such a dense corridor as the northeast. >> thank you very much, mr. boardman. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. mr. johnson. there's no one on our side. i have a couple of questions. mr. boardman cometh the pleasure to see you. knowing you are too big and 10 university, which i now have the university -- >> congratulations on your reelection. >> thank you. it's a mixed bag, but thanks. mr. alves come to you with prior accountability if they are not met. what does that mean in the real world? >> actually what i was saying is it's not so much the plan has the benchmarks and accountability.
it is that this entire process, starting with the planned should be to god. we are not there yet. the company is not at a place where people are being appropriately held accountable to god metrics. >> what would you mention this? accountability in the public sector is difficult to require. it's difficult to understand since the islamic profit motive is not stockholders, have no vested interest in outcomes other than doing a good job, which i hope they'll would pair forward to mention that looks like? >> amtrak is established and not take a shot at it, but show will be able to answer it much more precisely and on target than i can. amtrak has established two key metrics. one is the operating ratio, which is how i revenue compare store expenses. our operating ratio is less than one because we lose money and
>> in terms of hard accountability it's difficult to obtain and difficult to enforce and very difficult to define. >> may be difficult but it needs to be done. >> go ahead mr. boardman. >> i don't think it's difficult congressmen. i think one of the things that is important here is, and i think ted really talked about it is the total operating spends over the total operating revenue. what we are really looking for are these general managers to really understand how much revenue is coming in and what the cost is. they can be held to account because we have a history. we know what those numbers are but we also have a performance plan for every specific individual and we are calling it this far program. you know, you've got to have an acronym to really talk about that and their goals need to be specific. they need to be measurable. they need to be achievable,
realistic and then they need to be -- have a date on them, which provides the time and they won't be perfect. they will be improving as we go forward. each year we made a lot of improvements in that area because humans need that time to really assimilate what it is that we really want them to do and what we need to do to protect. we have had very weak internal controls i think as mr. alves has talked about and we have had a very weak business process. the reason for that is because for years it's been a survival mode. we survived this year and are we going to survive into next year? that has begin to change with amtrak i hope, and i just celebrated my fourth anniversary two days ago here at amtrak so the changes that are coming about i think are very business
related. >> i will tell mr. ludwig not to send you a bill right now and that you actually do look at them. >> yeah. part of the difficulty here is understanding the level and number of transactions along the route of the train each day which is part of what ted was talking about, whether a train is late at a certain location or not and whether there was an incentive. >> you can understand some of the cynicism that comes out of this congress over amtrak when you look at that, especially knowing aviation is subsidized by a little over $4 mass transit is a little over 95 cents. intercity bus which we know a great deal about is a time and amtrak in total, understanding what you said earlier, is a little over $46. that is a substantial subsidy.
obviously the four modes of transportation are different but i want to ask mr. cummings if you have anything. >> yes, i certainly do. i will be very brief. mr. boardman i want to ask you, our mayor was listening to you answer to mrs. martin and we want to know what the situation is with the baltimore station. the mayor had appointed me to chair a commission here recently to try to address the issue of the baltimore station and the staff look like they were confused to. >> let me address it quickly. what i will do is give you a response because i'm not really up to speed on it. >> that's okay. i'm not worried about you being up to speed. i just want to make sure it's on the radar because we are very concerned about it. is a major city in the train station is one that we are not
happy about. we want people to feel a sense of vitality in our city. we have a mayor who has done a great job but that train station is very central, as it is in most cities and i don't know if you have been through. >> absolutely. i go through a regularly. >> it's not the prettiest picture so i'm just curious if you have a general statement on that or specific statement? >> i was looking at the second floor there. they used to have the director's office up on the top floor, the second floor and what would it take for us to be potentially using that differently so yes, we are there. we are looking at it. i don't have the specifics and what our plans are right now but i understand your concern. >> if possible i would like to set up a meeting with your people so we could at least get, make sure we are at least seeing it from the same church on the
same day. so we can get some kind of you know, and i think it's just something that concerns us greatly. we just want to know where amtrak is fitting in there and what your plans are. thank you. >> thank you. other members have questions? no other questions? well, let me just as we conclude thank our witnesses. the purpose of this hearing and the two that we are planning is hopefully to be constructive comment to make certain that things move forward in a positive fashion as far as amtrak. taxpayers have a huge amount of interest in this $1.4 billion as i said last year. billions of dollars over the 40 years that we have subsidized the amtrak operation.
almost all public transportation is subsidized in some fashion. we may not be able to eliminate that it we can lessen it as stated by the goal of actually the amtrak president, mr. boardman which we have had a sufficient operation, well organized with the strategic plan and others have the opportunity to move forward with a strategic plan prior to my becoming chairman. it didn't happen. it is happening now in the wanted to be constructive and also execute it so that we have in place the very best practices and one that can be flexible to change, to market requirements to customer demands and also the employees who serve us out that
work hard each day for amtrak are adequately rewarded. we will, as i said, have two additional hearings thursday the sixth on high-speed and intercity rail service. that is overall high-speed program which has been abdicated by the administration and then on thursday the 13th we will conclude the series on passenger rail service with an examination of the progress we are making on the northeast corridor and high-speed rail. yesterday in new york one of the transportation officials said that it was a shame that the united states appears to be falling further behind in its efforts to build a high-speed rail system particularly in the northeast corridor which has the
highest concentration of population, the best connections in the united states and we will examine very carefully the progress that is being made, the plans that amtrak has put in place to bring the northeast corridor into the 21st century of world-class high-speed transportation. i think the gentlelady from california said that this speed excels 83 miles an hour. mr. boardman is it 86 miles per hour just for the record? >> somewhere between 83 and 86. the high 60's going from new york to boston, which just is not acceptable so the purpose of the hearings again are not only to be able to -- as mr. boardman talked about but also the taxpayers having been
home during the thanksgiving period and several cities during the thanksgiving period. i saw hundreds, literally thousands of americans working so hard to pay their bills and raise their families and be responsible citizens and they also sent a good portion of their labors, sweat and tears to washington and we ought to be responsible stewards and trustees of their hard-earned dollars and that is what we intend to do. until the very last hearing to order. so with that, if there are no other questions from members of the committee, let me just do a little homework here. i ask unanimous consent that the record today's hearing remained open until such time as our witnesses provide answers to any questions that may be submitted to them in writing.
we will give it two weeks by the consent of the other side of the aisle and i ask unanimous consent of the record remained open for those 14 days of additional comments and information submitted by members or witnesses. that can be included and will be included in the record of today's hearing. without objection, so ordered. again i want to think or witnesses and we look forward to working with you mr. boardman and mr. alves are respected inspector general and our workers, thank you so much. there being no further business before the transportation and infrastructure committee, this hearing is adjourned. thank you. [inaudible conversations]
places didn't have electricity so they couldn't listen to the radio broadcast to find out what was going on in other parts of the country. roy stryker, who was an economist from columbia university, he was the head of this project and in 1939 when kodak introduced colored film, they sent film to roy stryker to have his photographers tryout and see what they could do. kodak was trying to establish a new market and product and they wanted people who would know how to use it effectively to try it out and publicize it.
>> deputy secretary of state bill burns and special envoy for middle east peace david hale spoke with palestinian president mahmoud abbas in new york city to discuss thursday's vote in the united nations to elevate palestine to be a nonmember observer state. this is 10 minutes. >> lets start with your incredibly successful effort to lobby other countries not in favor of palestinians. it was a resolution at the u.n. not only that but also your attempt to the secret diplomacy by sending, stealthily sending deputy secretary of state of boston new york. you know, what exactly did he want to get from abbas and did he get it, because it was very
clear it's certain that they're going ahead. >> well first of all there was nothing secret about the deputy secretary's trip to new york to see president abbas. i think we have said two days in a row there we expected to have a senior member of the administration go up and see the president abbas following up on the meeting in the secretary had 10 days ago. >> just on that, that was going to be him and it would -- >> we made a decision that we would announce the senior official would go up but we would not announce the substance of the meeting are the actual facts surrounding it until the meeting had happened. that was something we did in agreement with the palestinian side.
just to give you all what we have here, deputy secretary of state bill burns in our special envoy for the middle east peace, david hale did go up to new york and see the president abbas this morning. as you know we meet with him frequently. the secretary saw him some 10 days ago when she was in. the office he had a discussion about the peace process but they also reiterated the u.s. governments very real concern about the palestinian initiative in the u.n. general assembly. we have been clear and we have been consistent with the palestinians that we oppose observer state status in the general assembly and this resolution. we made those points again, and the deputy secretary also reiterated that no one should be under any illusion that this resolution is going to produce the results that the palestinians claim to speak, namely to have their own state living in peace next to israel.
so obviously we lived up to make one more try to make our views known to president abbas and to urge them to reconsider and he'll love is to make his own decisions. he will do that in new york tomorrow but we thought it was important to make our case one more time. >> your understanding of the palestinian goal here, in terms of this resolution, is that they expect to get a state out of its? >> it? >> that's not what i said. i said the goal that they seek overall is to have a palestinian state. >> so they should not be let to have anything in between. they either get a state and go all the way and a deal with the israelis and nothing for the palestinians in between? >> we have made clear and we have talked about this all week long, matt. i don't think we need to re-litigate a whole other time here. this resolution is not going to take them closer to state it.
it does nothing to get them closer to statehood and it may actually make the environment more difficult. [inaudible] the economic impact going for this boat? both as it relates to u.s. support and potentially israili deals that they have on financing? >> i don't have anymore details from the actual meeting room today to share but we have been clear all along with the palestinians that we are seeking to get money for the palestinian authority released from the congress but that these kinds of things they'll make it easier and that members of congress are watching very closely. >> to modify the resolution a way that would make it more acceptable to you? i understand britain has said that they're going to abstain unless they are certain conditions met. they go to the israeli military and the icc?
>> our position has been that we oppose this move altogether. there is no language change in this thing that would change our vote. [inaudible] last week by bsa,, india of brazil and south africa came out in support of the solution. >> we have been very clear with our partners and with allies around the world that we intend to vote no, that we believe this is a mistake and make there is to try to get the parties back to the table more difficult. >> would it have any impact on the bilateral ties with those countries? >> this is a sovereign decision for each country to make. we are clear about where we stand and we are also very clear about our concerns about the impact on the peace process. we have many countries around the world outside of the region had come to say to us do
something and we are saying that this could make it more difficult. >> what is your understanding of what the palestinians are going to do following this last -- you said one more time? >> i'm going to let the palestinians speak for themselves. >> let me tell you what the palestinians said after the meeting and that is that they're going to go ahead with this. you have the decade -- deputy secretary of state along with david hale who's been telling the palestinians this ad infinitum along with other members of the government that they are going to go ahead and do this. in addition to that you have more and more governments coming out and saying that they are going to support the palestinian bid despite the arguments that you have made. i'm wondering, i have seen the demarche, and i'm wondering if you don't think you presented your case strongly enough, why it is you're going to begin a very very small minority when
this vote happens and you are on the losing side? >> again i'm not going to prejudge a vote that's going to happen tomorrow. obviously we will see speak to the results of the vote after the vote. we are in a position as we panel along in terms of this notion which has been floated around for more than a year that it does not help the peace process, where we all ought to be focusing our energies. >> okay, well the results of the vote while the exact numbers are not certain it's a forgone conclusion that it is going to pass, which means that a large majority of u.n. member countries and most of the world disagrees. can you say now that you will take into account the fact that a huge majority of other countries in the world disagree with you?
you will take that into account in thinking about how you go ahead and how you move forward, or are you going to pretend that the rest of the world didn't make this vote or are you just going to say we don't care. we have in the monopoly on what is right in what is wrong? >> i think this is a speech rather than a question. we will obviously -- we will obviously speak to the results of the vote after after the vote. we will obviously have to take the results of the vote into account as we go forward. our position at the moment is to continue to make clear that we are concerned that this vote is going to make the work of getting the parties back to the table more difficult. so to the degree to which countries around the world expect us to be working to deliver these parties to the table as we believe will make that job harder. but i'm not going to speak to our views on this vote until the boat has taken place.
>> so you think the countries though that vote in favor of this simply don't understand the incredibly difficult job that you have or that has been put upon the united states in getting some results here? is that what you are saying, that they just don't get it? >> again i'm not going to speak for the motivations of other countries in making this vote. i'm simply saying we are focused on a real objective for the palestinian people, which is to get them closer to having a state. this isn't going to do this -- batting could ask to make it harder. so we just don't understand what it does for anybody real on the ground. that's the issue. >> several life of vince to tell you about tomorrow morning.
>> mr. speaker with permission i will make a statement on the palestinian resolution to be moved at the u.n. general assembly tomorrow. this resolution calls for the upgrading of the palestinian u.n. state is from observers to nonmember observer states. and i wish to inform the house of the discussion the government has had about this with the palestinian leadership and how we intend to proceed. achieving a two-state solution to the israeli-palestinian conflict is one of our top international priorities. we support a negotiated settlement, leading to a safe and secure israel, living alongside a viable and sovereign palestinian state, based on 1967 borders with the read land swaps. jerusalem is the share capital of both states and the just, fair and agreed settlement for refugees.
this is the only way to secure sustainable and to the conflict and it is wide support in this house and across the world. there has been a dangerous impasse in the peace process over the last two years. the pace of settlement building has increased. rocket attacks on israel have increased, frustration and insecurity have deepened on both sides in the parties have not been able to a re-or return to talks. the crisis in gaza and the tragic loss of palestinian and israeli life shows why the region in the and the world cannot afford this back him them in the peace process. i pay tribute today to egypt in the united states into the u.n. secretary-general for their role in bringing about a cease-fire in gaza and we now need to build on it to bring about a lasting peace, including an end to the smuggling of weapons and the opening of up of gaza for trade as well as for aid. in the house last week i set out their belief that the united states should launch a new initiative to revive the middle
east peace process urgently. if progress on negotiations is not made next year than the two-state solution could become impossible to achieve. yesterday i said to secretary clinton that such an effort led by the u.s. would need to be more intense than anything seen since the oslo peace accords and it should be backed by a more active role for european nations as well. give in the overriding need for both israelis and palestinians to return to to negotiations as soon as possible, we as palestinian president mahmoud of boston not move the resolution of the u.n. general assembly for the time being. our view was that it would be better to give you is that epogen due to set out a new initiative. he pointed out a u.n. resolution would be depicted by some as a move away from bilateral negotiations with israel and we are also concerned about the considerable financial risks to the palestinian authority at a time when their situation is art of precarious if they vote led
to a strong backlash in the u.s. political system. nevertheless present abbas has decided to press ahead, decision we must respect. no one should be any doubt that he is a courageous man of peace. are central objective remains that of ensuring a rapid return to credible negotiations in order to secure a two-state solution. this is the guiding principle that will determine the way in which we will vote on any resolution at any time. the frustration felt by many ordinary palestinians about the lack of progress in the peace process is wholly understandable. a legal settlement activity in the west bank which we condemn threatens the very viability of the peace process and after many deck it's the palestinians still did not have the states they aspire to. that is why we have consistently asked israel to make a more decisive offer to palestinians than in the recent past and of also called on palestinians not to set the conditions for negotiations. we want to see a palestinian state and look forward to the
day when its people can enjoy the same rights and dignity as those of any other nation. but for us to support a resolution of the u.n., it's important that the risks to the peace process are addressed so that the chances of negotiations beginning after it are enhanced rather than diminish. i spoke to president abbas monday and my right honorable friend the deputy prime minister spoke to him yesterday. explained well there is no question the united kingdom voting against the resolution in order to vote for it we would need certain assurances or amendments. the first is that the palestinian authority should indicate a clear commitment to return immediately to negotiations without preconditions. this is the essential answer to the charge that by moving the resolution the palestinians are taking a path away from negotiations. given the great difficulty and restarting negotiations in recent years and the risk that some will see this resolution as a step that is inconsistent with
such negotiations this commitment is indispensable to us. a second assurance relates to membership of other specialized u.n. agencies in action in the international criminal court. our country is a strong supporter across all parties of international justice in criminal court. we would ultimately to see a palestinian state represented by all the organs of the united nations. however we judge that of the palestinians were to build on this resolution by pursuing icc jurisdiction over the occupy territories at this stage, it could make a return to negotiations impossible. this is extremely important, given that we see 2013 is a crucial year for the reasons i've describe for the middle east peace process. we have also said to president abbas i would like to see language in the resolution that does not prejudge and make clear that the resolution does not apply retrospectively. we believe these changes would not be difficult to make.
that is maybe they're in the text of the resolution or in an accompanying statement as appropriate they would win wider support for the resolution without any prejudice to final status issues and that would increase the prospects for negotiations moving ahead. up until the time of the vote itself will remain open to vote taking favor of the resolution. public assurances by the palestinians on these points. however in the absence of these assurances the united kingdom would abstain on the vote. this would be consistent with our strong support for the principle of palestinian statehood and that are concerned the resolution could set the peace process back. we call again on the palestinian authority to make every possible amendment to win the widest possible support and give the strongest possible assurances. we call on israel to be ready to enter negotiations and to agree to a two-state solution before it's too late. whatever happens at the general assembly we call on israel to avoid reacting in a way that damages the peace process or israel's international standing.
we would not support a strong reaction which undermines the peace process by sidelining president abbas or risk the collapse of the palestinian authority. and we look to the u.s. with their strong our strong and active support to do all it can in the coming weeks and months to restart this process. the only way to get opposing people the state they need and deserve as the israeli people the security and peace that they are entitled to is through a negotiated two-state solution. this requires now israel is an palestinians to return to negotiations, israel to stop the illegal settlement building, palestinian factions to reconcile with each other and the international community led that the united states and supported by european nations, to make the necessary huge effort to revive the peace process. >> douglas alexander. >> mr. speaker can i think the foreign secretary for his statement and i welcome him to sponsor today. the secretary himself admitted
only last week that time is running out for the two-state solution. mr. mr. speaker i agree with the foreign secretary's assessment. belief in the possibility of a negotiated two-state solution is hemorrhaging badly across the region. the foreign secretary is an eloquent man but i struggled struggle to reconcile his statement with his analysis of last week. exact way eight days ago the foreign secretary told this house and i quote direct way, it's a legitimate case for saying it would be right to passage in motion because this has gone on for so long and palestinian -- are so intense for understand the reasons. i believed over the bounds of judgment comes down on the side of saying to do so would be more like you to efforts to restart the peace process than to advance them. after statement today can i asked the foreign secretary has he not in fact changed his mind?
and can i dress the criteria the foreign secretary tells us he will use to determine the u.k. borders wexford for me turned to the issue of the criminal courts. it's a matter of foreign secretary repeats our country is a strong supporter of the international justice and the international criminal courts. it is also a matter of record that israel is not a party to the icc treaty and does not access jurisdictions within the boundaries of these are. as recently as two weeks ago they were urging israel to adhere to law. cannot foreign secretaries explain why the u.k. government wishes to exempt israel from possible action for any future breaches of international on law and the occupy palestinian territories? the second criterion mentioned was a return to negotiations without preconditions. only eight days ago the foreign secrets will this house building on the west bank and east jerusalem are not far from a
two-state solution becoming impossible and unviable. so why just eight days later does the foreign secretary not suggested israel's refusal to suspend the expansion of illegal settlements change the facts on the basis of his negotiations even as future talks get underway is a reasonable position for the series to adopt? he explained his own thinking on the issue by stating because of the possible reaction of the u.s. congress and the possibility of israel withholding tax revenues the position of the palestinian authority could be made worse by the passage of such a resolution. let me as the foreign secretary comes secretary does it really believe the threats issued by republican-controlled congress should punish the palestinians for taking this diplomatic state as a reason of basis on which to base his policy? does he really believe that israel's customs revenues that claims on behalf of the palestinians which legally
belongs to the palestinians is a reasonable basis on which to determine policy on this vote? does the foreign secretary understand stated for the palestinians is not a gift to be given but a right to be acknowledged? i warned the foreign secretary it will not be a measure of our influence. it will be a confirmation of our growing irrelevance of engagement in the search for peace across europe. countries like france and spain a party make clear that they will join what i believe will be an overwhelming majority of 193 members of united nations general assembly and observer status for the palestinians. that can and must send a signal to the palestinians that diplomatic efforts on the part of politics or not the path of violence or the route for root for a two-state solution. let's be honest in his house. in recent days hamas in the midst of the conflict with
israel has welcomed the secretary general, the prime minister v-chip the foreign molesters of turkey iraq jordan the palestinian authority of tunisia saudi arabia and sudan. in a statement today the foreign secretary david rightfully quoted president abbas as they courageous man. it genuinely wants to support moderate efforts to engage in meaningful negotiations. what does it say about whether violence or politics is -- eight days ago the secretary sought to explain his position by the recognition of united nations to risk. he spoke of the -- and when the foreign secretary understands is only there is only paralysis. and he cannot foreign secretary explain what process he was referring today. and less to guess been continued
illegal settlement building in continued rocket attacks. there've been continued conflict in continued occupation. there has been continued blockade but there have been no meaningful negotiations. that is why for more than a year it's been clear that recognition of the united nations for the palestinians is one of the steps required to it achieve a two-state solution. abstention tomorrow would be in abdication of britain's responsibilities. so let me appeal to the foreign secretary is a historian by history that he and his party rightly revere the freeze to govern is to decide his attribute it to winston churchill. i urge the foreign secretary even at this late hour not to dither but to decide to vote for enhanced recognition for the palestinians tomorrow at the united nations. >> the foreign secretary mr. william hayes. >> mr. speaker think it's common ground and there are differences between us but the shadow
foreign secretary has expressed what is a common ground about time running out. i think the analysis on all of the policies on all sides of the house does start from that point although we draw some different tactical conclusions from it. and of course my statement is based on our attitude is based on one of the sentiments that he expressed, that the rights of the palestinian state is something that we support. i supported it very strongly in my statement. i have not however change my mind about anything. i think he was looking a bit too hard for changes between what i said last week and this week because as far as i'm aware i said the same things about the risks to the peace process about the risks in the u.s. congress and the risks in israel. and he asked what the -- is there process and of course one of the main things i have been saying is the need to revive and restart the process. there have been many attempts over the last year to restart that process and in particular
the kingdom of jordan has played a very constructive role and one of the obstacles to that and there are many obstacles including israeli sentiment building which i think across the house we condemn but one of the obstacles has been an unwillingness by the palestinians to remove all preconditions for negotiations. that is why it's important to have a commitment from palestinians to return to negotiations without preconditions. that is why and that is one of the criteria that we set. we need both sides to do that and after whatever happens in the general assembly, to be ready to do that. we will welcome that and of course particularly welcome before the vote one of the single most crucial factors that would enable us to vote for the resolution. we will still welcome it after the vote of the palestinians can say that then. he asked in addition about the international criminal court and we are circling that not arguing
that israel should be exempt from the international criminal court. but we remember it's very important that our overriding objective here, given the urgency in which we all agree, is for negotiations to resume and succeed. we all know that this is the lesson of history here. he appealed to me as a historian. the lesson of history with negotiations is that you have to have enough common ground to bring the two sides together and that it is important to avoid doing things certainly in the short term which make it harder to bring the two sides together. and that is the reason for that criteria. so these are sensible criteria for us to put forward. the right honorable gentleman expresses support for voting for the palestinian resolution before seeing the resolution. i have waited to see the resolution and then looked at how it can be improved and how we can react to to it in a way which maximize the chances of successful negotiations.
so it's thoughtful test themselves if we succeeded and the palestinian state and d. get the assurance i is for with a chance of negotiations taking place be improved? yes they undoubtably would have the palestinians made those commitments and that they do not give those commitments and we abstain will the united kingdom still be in a position with the palestinians and with the israelis and with united states to advance whatever we can make of the peace process. yes we will and therefore would have expressed as the optimum position for the united kingdom and the best for the middle east peace process. this is not just about expressing and agreeing with a resolution we sympathize as we do with the position of the palestinians. we are a country not a newspaper or a pedigree. we have to use our vote, we have to use their vote with all considerations in mind and with the ultimate objective in mind.
it does not help the palestinians to help to celebrate for one day while at the same time failing to address the wider needs of the peace process. so that is a reason for our position and whatever happens and whatever happens in the vote tomorrow, the united kingdom will continue to be at the forefront of working for peace stability and security in the middle east. >> mr. james clapper. >> may i agree with what my right honorable friend has said about the talks and the right honorable friend prime minister who said -- other than talks in israel for territory and security for israel must be address. can my right honorable friend given an indication of the price nature of the assurances which he is sought from the palestinians about membership in the inch national courts and have assurances so far been offered from the other side for
the palestinians? >> the assurance are those that i described in a statement earlier. we are talking about the recourse to the come accord at this stage in the occupy territories because of the impact on the ability to bring about a negotiated settlement. we are not talking about that. certainly there was a response to the right honorable gentleman. in not advocating some permanent exemption. we have not received any assurances on those points is the answer and one of the reasons we continue to seek them and as things stand cannot vote for the resolution. we will continue to seek them over the 24 coming hours. >> mr. jack straw. >> well the foreign secretary please understand that this complex conditionality which he speaks is frankly too clever by heart and what is going to most achieve is to undermine britain's influence both with the israelis and the airport of. and at the same time and more
crucially undermine the position of president abbas because what has happened in the last three weeks is that hamas has seen their power and influence enhanced. the messages gone out, not least from israel and if we send enough rockets over the border you can get to negotiations whilst one condition after another is imposed upon the peace seeking palestinians on this approach i'm afraid is not it's not going to help. see eye-to-eye degree with that mr. speaker although the right honorable gentleman has a lot of experience in these matters but i don't agree that an i can tell them him and all the conversations we have dead had with palestinian negotiators and indeed with the president, with president abbas in the last few days our relations are excellent. that friendship will continue and indeed the financial and political support that this
country gives strong cross prod -- cross party support which is among the foremost in the world. it will of course continue and so that is very clear and i did not believe therefore that anything we have said or done is in many ways -- anyway out of mining of president abbas. is important with all the countries involved in the peace process so i don't accept the premise of his argument. >> mr. speaker may i say to my right honorable friend that i certainly understand the fiendish difficulties of this matter but may i say to him that i profoundly disagree with what he says. whatever this resolution says, these conditions are unnecessary and one-sided and grossly unfair. what further steps does he plan to help the palestinians to encourage them to proceed with these vital peace talks without
which the middle east will continue to sink into an abyss? >> by honorable friend and i have a different view on this very point which is very apparent to the house but of course we will go on arguing for the same things. what is very important is what happens on friday and whatever the result of the vote however individual nations vote, so that we discourage any steps by any parties not including israel that would be damaging to the peace process and to negotiations and we will continue to urge the palestinians to do the things that i have described it early to enter negotiations without preconditions. i've been very critical of israel on settlement building, not making it big enough generous decisive enough offer to the palestinians but we also have to be critical of palestinians at times when opportunities are not taken and they have failed on several
occasions to take the opportunity of negotiations because too many preconditions have been said. we have to be frank about that so i will encourage them in that direction. >> does the foreign secretary think it would be reasonable be there for this country or the international community to make israel's continued membership dependent on meeting conditions laid down by him or indeed by the international community? if he thinks that would be an reasonable, as i would, why does he apply different standards to the palestinians? does he not realize that this position he is articulate stay will again be seen as a classic double standard by the united kingdom? and why will they not join the 100 members of his house who have signed the notion calling for recognition, france, spain, the united general assembly and
over 1.5 million people supporting to upgrade the palestinian recognition? isn't it time to drop the double standards? >> what we want as i've explained as a successful negotiation. we deal with the hand that history has dealt to us all and of course decisions about israel's membership in the united nations were taken long ago not and not about palestinian membership. now we have to try to resolve that. we want to see palestine at the united nations and all the organs of the united nations but i stress the point of prime minister made in answer to his honorable friend this will only come about as the result of a successful negotiation with israel and if that is true and i haven't heard anybody art that is not true, if that is true, that everything we do should become consistent with promoting, facilitating and bringing to success such negotiations. that is our guiding principle and an overriding principle set
against all the other factors understandably that people raised. >> lets say we on these benches would have preferred a vote without preconditions for any anticipation of a general assembly as a whole voting yes, can he tell us what representations he has made two governments by israel and the united states to discourage either of them from taking a punitive response to this peaceful diplomatic initiative? >> i am grateful to my honorable friend and you will be pleased the deputy prime minister has been so much involved in our efforts over the last few days. of course we have made such representations. we have made those representations direct way with israel and the united states. i refer to the conversation i had with secretary hunton yesterday which of course
covered this the subject and we will make representations that the resolution is passed as it is expected on thursday night. those representations will be strong and continuous. >> think you mr. speaker. for two years the palestinians have refused to go back to the negotiating table. what will convince the foreign secretary that the status for the u.n. will encourage them to go back to negotiations that they have refused to take part in for the past two years? >> this is the other side of the argument and i pointed out that in our criticism of israel which has been very strong i also am critical of palestinians for sometimes including over the last year, preconditions for going back and to negotiations which meant negotiations did not take place. but i do believe and i wish to enter into and conclude such
negotiations so i don't go as far the other way as the honorable lady and a deep sense is only way to bring about a settlement of this issue for israelis and palestinians we must promote those negotiations however difficult they are. >> my right honorable friend is told house greg green at the time tuesday's solution is running out and is also told the house there isn't anything that can go for statehood toward the palestinians and peace for israel. how long have we got? >> i think we don't have very long and i think this is the urgency expressed across the house. i think the pace of settlement building is steadily reducing the time available for tuesday's solution as well as the sheer time that has been exhausted over so many years trying to bring this about. so while i wouldn't count the time in months, i wouldn't -- we don't have many years. there may only be one or two years that we have to bring this
about hence the urgency of restarting negotiations. >> sir general coffman. the right honorable gentleman offers president abbas all support short of actual support. may i warn him as i warned itzhak rabin when he was prime minister of israel personally in conversation, that if he failed to give validity to fata, then all that will be left will be hamas. mr. rabin shook hands with arafat, weiss out -- white house lawn. the rideable friend -- [inaudible] >> i don't think that is what the palestinians would think after all the discussions we have had over the last few days so i don't agree with the right honorable gentleman that support takes many forms and there are strong supports for the palestinian authority, the huge financial and other support that
we give. it is much appreciated by the leaders of palestinian authority so we shouldn't pretend of this house and of course there are disagreements about our vote tomorrow, but i hope no one will pretend in the house that we don't have good relations and supporting particularly the people of the moderate persuasion in the palestinian authority because there's no doubt we have that and there's no doubt those continue. >> mr. andrew percy. >> the foreign secretaries secretary is absolutely right to seek these assurances and i give them credit for that but can he show this house when he seeks -- i think he said he wanted to see -- by the palestinians. will that be in writing? >> they could take many forms of course. i made that point to the palestinians, that what we are seeking could be in the resolution which can be amended at a very late stage. even right up until the vote tomorrow. it can be in the speech that we
expect president abbas to deliver in new york tomorrow or indeed it could be in writing and published. so such assurances could take many forms and there still time to give them. >> mr. nigel dodds. >> in october the foreign secretary described the palestinian application of as a divisive symbolic gesture. in the absence of the assurances or amendments that he seeks does he stand by that statement? canny update the house on the progress in getting hamas to renounce its commitment to the absolute annihilation of the state of israel? >> sadly no one has made progress with hamas yet and indeed it is vital for hamas to recognize previous agreements to forswear violence. and to recognize the right of israel to exist. it is good that talks are taking place and the egyptian hospices on gaza and though those talks
include how to prevent the smuggling of weapons into gaza although also have to open up gaza. and so it's very important and good that those talks are taking place. clearly as i said again in the statement we have asked the palestinians not to proceed with a resolution and our fear is that while it could be something symbolic, and that is why many people want to support it, is the symbolism of it that they support, the fact that it can be devised in the peace process is the danger of it. the assurances we have sought their ones that would make it more than that symbolism and mitigate any divisive effect. that is the logic of what we are doing. >> sir tony bondra it. >> what happens if the two-state solution fails? do the palestinians forever
remain and occupy people? do they ever remain -- and do they forever remain in a situation where more and more of their land is being in by illegal settlements? >> i think at the very bleak outlook for two-state solution but it's a bleak outlook for israel as well. and this is our constant conversation with israeli leaders, that unless they conclude within the kind of timeframe i've been talking about, two-state solution, then they are faced with one state solutions and that poses many profound challenges for israel and for the nature of their society in their view. and so that is why it's so important for both sides that this is addressed and such challenges would be so difficult but i don't want to speculate about what that would lead to at this time. >> mr. ben bradshaw. >> a yes vote would market story can very welcome shift in
british policy in a congratulate him for edging toward that position and my right honorable friend for encouraging him to do so with their regret for the conditions. how hopeful was he in seen as discussion yesterday? >> well i think there's a good understanding after discussing with secretary clinton yesterday of the strength across the world, including in countries like ours and other european countries and of the urgency of this. of course it's very important for that understanding to be shared across the american system. i've worked closely with secretary clinton over the last 1/2 years but she is expecting and intending to depart office of secretary of state in the coming weeks. so this will be the number one item that we discuss with the incoming secretary of state of the united states. i have already discuss it with some of the people who might become secretary of state of the united states and it has been
prominent among the specially president obama been the prime minister and i have both put the strongly to the president. and so it think the understanding is they are in the united states but now we have to help them translated into real action. >> mr. simon hughes. >> mr. speaker i pay great tribute to making sure this is not only u.k. government foreign-policy party but to try to make sure it becomes a second term american administration foreign-policy priority. on the difficult issue that he is addressed through the icc jurisdiction, i understand exactly what he is trying to do. is what he is actually hoping, not that the icc shouldn't have a jurisdiction but if the palestinians and israelis come the israelis come to the peace talks apps to the table that can be just part for a time so that the attempt to get a peace deal has not skewered by sending it to court twits actually could take
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