An unusual statement came out from the White House on Monday evening: Support for House legislation.
The Republican-controlled House is expected to pass a bill Tuesday reauthorizing funding for Amtrak, and while the Obama administration isn’t 100 percent happy with it, the White House declared its support. A bipartisan bill is a rarity these days (the vote on the rules of debate for the bill passed unanimously!), and so is GOP legislation that President Obama wouldn’t veto.
Tucked into that popular bill is a very popular program both Democrats and Republicans like: Allowing pets to ride the rails.
Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), ever since learning that he couldn’t take his French bulldog, Lily, with him on the train, set out to change the rules so pets could accompany their owners on trips.
Denham’s push helped inspire Illinois to try out a pilot program of its own, allowing cats and dogs under 20 pounds to travel in carriers on select Amtrak lines for a $25 fee. Marc Magliari, an Amtrak spokesman in Chicago, said the program has worked great, with 145 animals taking the train since it began last spring.
The passenger rail bill directs Amtrak to figure out the parameters of the program within one year of it passing. For instance, there might be limits on the lengths of trips (dogs need to go to the bathroom) and on designating pet cars (so people with allergies or who don’t like animals can ride in pet-free cars).
If the Internet has taught us anything, it’s that small animals are the great unifier.