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Biden, The Amtrak VP, Praises Rail Funds In Stimulus

UPDATE: Here's the audio.

Vice President Joe Biden was in his element this afternoon as he joined former Congressional colleagues to trumpet funding for passenger rail in the stimulus funding. Saying he's in the top five of Amtrak riders of all time, the former Delaware senator said the system has been "left out much too long" in the nation's transportation plans, despite claims that it is over-subsidized.

"Every, every, every, every passenger rail service system in the world relies on subsidies. We subsidize our highways and airports more than we subsidize Amtrak," he said at Union Station this morning. "So let's get something straight here: Amtrak is not bent at the trough. Amtrak has been left out. ... I'm tired of apologizing for help for Amtrak."

Biden used to ride the train to and from Wilmington most days when he served as the state's senator for six full terms. One of the projects in the stimulus plan is a $21 million renovation of that station, and another $105 million will be spent on renovating Amtrak facilities nationwide. Also included: $82 million to fix damaged rail cars, $63 million to upgrade the electricity pathways, and $10.5 million for a new station in Sanford, Fla. Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla) was among those on hand thanking the veep for his role in securing the funds.

"If you have any problems in the stimulus, call the po-po. That's Joe Biden!" she said, declaring the group part of "Team Amtrak."

A number of the senators who spoke made light of their former colleague's promotion to Vice President, with his former longtime aide Ted Kaufman, now serving in his old seat, joking that he has to think twice before he addresses Biden. Biden himself joked that for the first time, his senators have no choice but to listen to him speak. "My speech will take no longer than 60 minutes," he promised.

So comfortable with the group was Biden that he was heard using the f-word a little too close to the open mic as he greeted them. Of course, his predecessor was caught doing the same, but in a more negative context.