New Amtrak Nominees May Overbalance Board Towards Northeast Corridor

New Amtrak Nominees May Overbalance Board Towards Northeast Corridor

May 06, 2022  | Jeff Davis

When the White House announced a slate of new nominees for the Amtrak Board of Directors at 3 p.m. last Friday, it was not clear who each new members was going to be replacing. But now that the nominees have been officially transmitted (earlier this week), we know:

The recent bipartisan infrastructure law (the IIJA) made changes in the Board’s statute (49 U.S.C. §24302) that placed very specific geographic residency requirements on the 8 Senate-confirmable members of the Amtrak Board:

  1. 2 must “reside in or near a location served by a regularly scheduled Amtrak service along the Northeast Corridor”
  2. 2 must reside “outside of the Northeast Corridor” but in a state that has an Amtrak long-distance route
  3. 2 must reside “outside of the Northeast Corridor” but in a state that has an Amtrak state-supported route
  4. 2 can reside in any state that has Amtrak service, in or out of the Northeast Corridor

If a person resides in a state that has both long-distance and state-supported service, they can fill either of the B slots or the C slots.

(Apparently, people from South Dakota, Wyoming, Alaska and Hawaii are not allowed to serve on the Amtrak Board of Directors, since their states have no Amtrak service.)

Congress clearly intended this to mean that the Northeast Corridor could have no more than half of the at-large Board memberships (4 of the 8, if both of the “anywhere” seats went to the NEC).

The 5 new nominees are:

  1. David Capozzi, Gaithersburg, Maryland (NEC)
  2. Anthony Coscia, New Jersey (NEC)
  3. Christopher Koos, Normal, Indiana (long-distance)
  4. Samuel Lathem, Delaware (NEC)
  5. Robin Weissmann, Bucks County, Pennsylvania (NEC)

President Biden’s choices have used up all 4 allowable Northeast Corridor slots on the Board.

The problem is, there are currently two holdover Board members who Biden’s choices would not replace. One, Jeff Moreland, resides in Texas, which has several long-distance routes and one state-supported route. But the other, Christopher Beall, has a day job running his own investment firm in New York City, giving a high likelihood that he actually resides in the NYC area.

(His original nomination paperwork from 2012 said “Christopher Beall, of Oklahoma,” but that is a Senate custom that lets people put the state where they were born and raised, or went to college, as their home state even if they have been residing elsewhere for years, a la career Foreign Service officers. For example, when the Senate confirmed Carlos Monje to be Under Secretary of Transportation last year, his official paperwork said he was “of Louisiana” even though Carlos has been working jobs in the DC area for the last 20 years and thus residing around here, not Louisiana.)

If the Senate were to confirm all 5 of President Biden’s nominees tomorrow, then the Northeast Corridor would have 5 of 7 active Board seats (71 percent), since Derek Kan’s old seat would still be vacant.

For this reason, and because all five of the new nominees appear to be Democrats (the maximum allowable number, per the statute, from any one political party), it is unlikely that the Senate will move this batch of nominees unless and until the status of the other three (Republican) slots is resolved. It is not known if either Moreland or Beall, or both, want to be nominated for another term, or if the Administration would offer that, if they did.

Share

Related Articles

Senate Confirms Primus to New STB Term, but Amtrak Nominees Will Wait Until Next Year

Senate Confirms Primus to New STB Term, but Amtrak Nominees Will Wait Until Next Year

As part of last night's 10 p.m. Senate "wrap-up" activities, the Senate confirmed, by unanimous consent, the nomination of Robert Primus to...

Highway, Rail Nominees Moving Through Committee

Highway, Rail Nominees Moving Through Committee

Highway and railroad policy nominees will be added to the pending pool from which the Senate usually selects several dozen individuals for...

EXPLAINER: What to know on Congress’ bid to bar rail strike

EXPLAINER: What to know on Congress’ bid to bar rail strike

Jeff Davis, a senior fellow at the Eno Center for Transportation, said he expects senators from both parties will ultimately have to accept...

Amtrak Year-End Reporting Shows Ongoing Ridership, Expense Problems

Amtrak Year-End Reporting Shows Ongoing Ridership, Expense Problems

A review of Amtrak's final monthly operating report for fiscal year 2022 shows that ridership and revenue on key routes continues to lag...

Senate Amtrak Hearing Avoids Big-Picture Issues

Senate Amtrak Hearing Avoids Big-Picture Issues

It’s a pivotal time for Amtrak, and Congress gave the nation’s passenger railroad $22 billion in the recent bipartisan infrastructure...

Opinion: Three Questions the Senate Should Ask the Amtrak Board Nominees

Opinion: Three Questions the Senate Should Ask the Amtrak Board Nominees

In his 1987 history of the Federal Reserve, Secrets of the Temple, journalist William Greider told a funny story illustrating the Fed’s...

FRA Establishes CIG-Like

FRA Establishes CIG-Like "Pipeline" for Intercity Rail Corridors

Last Friday, the Federal Railroad Administration published a notice establishing a program to provide periodic evaluation of potential...

New Amtrak Nominees May Overbalance Board Towards Northeast Corridor

New Amtrak Nominees May Overbalance Board Towards Northeast Corridor

When the White House announced a slate of new nominees for the Amtrak Board of Directors at 3 p.m. last Friday, it was not clear who each...

Biden to Nominate 5 Amtrak Board Members

Biden to Nominate 5 Amtrak Board Members

In a 3 p.m. Friday afternoon announcement, the White House sent out a news release stating that President Biden intends to nominate five...

Amtrak's FY23 Budget Adheres to IIJA Authorizations

Amtrak's FY23 Budget Adheres to IIJA Authorizations

Amtrak has released its own request for federal appropriations for fiscal year 2023, separate from the request submitted on Amtrak's behalf...

Amtrak Concedes Perpetual $1 Billion/Year Operating Losses

Amtrak Concedes Perpetual $1 Billion/Year Operating Losses

What a difference two years makes. In fiscal 2019, Amtrak only lost $29 million on operations, and the budget estimates submitted to...

T&I Hearing Looks at Expanded Intercity Passenger Rail

T&I Hearing Looks at Expanded Intercity Passenger Rail

On Thursday, December 9, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee...

Be Part of the Conversation
Sign up to receive news, events, publications, and course notifications.
No thanks