September 6, 2022 - TRA Newswire -

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation is convening a full committee hearing this week to consider five Presidential nominations to the Amtrak Board of Directors.

One of the five nominees has an indirect connection to Texas via a train from Chicago to San Antonio that stops in his city. 

Mayor Christopher Koos of Normal, Illinois has been a strong supporter of passenger rail including Amtrak's Texas Eagle, which makes a stop at the Bloomington-Normal, Illinois station every day. Koos even hosted a meeting of TEMPO (Texas Eagle Marketing and Performance Organization) in his city. TEMPO is a rail advocacy group composed of mayors and council members, civic and business organizations and others that support the Texas Eagle. Normal revitilized the downtown area around a recently completed transportation center for trains, buses and other transport. 

Koos, mayor of the down-state Illinois city since 2003, has been waiting in line to appear before a Senate confirmation committee with others since being appointed by President Trump in early 2020.

Nominees to the Amtrak Board had been pending on the Executive Calendar because of a Senate tradition that appointees to multi-member boards and commissions would only advance in pairs, one from each political party.

The term of one current board member will expire at the end of this year. Five members of the board are in a holdover capacity, still serving terms that expired several years ago. That's because of a quirk in the law that allows a Senate confirmed board member to serve after their term expires until their replacement is confirmed, or if the current board member resigns or passes away. 

Except for Koos the rest of the nominess are all from the Northeast.

Rail Passengers Association President & CEO Jim Mathews previously announced that "the slate only goes part of the way toward fulfilling Congress' clear and unmistakable direction in Section 22202 of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. In our view the White House missed an opportunity to appoint an Amtrak board that would speak for communities served beyond those in that region (Northeast)." Mathews went to to say "where are the nominees who will serve as the voice of the passengers from regions which include of some of the fastest growing communities in the nation?

Anthony R. Coscia, current Chair of the Board, was renominated by President Biden. Other nominees to be heard this week include Sam Lathem, David M. Capozzi and Robin L. Weissman.

Coscia has served since 2009 and as Chairman since 2013. He has broad oversight responsibility to the railroad's $6.7 billion annual budget. Coscia previously served a Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Port Authority of New York.

Lathem is former President of the Delaware state AFL-CIO and Delaware River and Bay Authority Commissioner.

Capozzi is Executive Director of the U.S. Access Board, the only Federal agency whose mission is accessibility for people with disabilities.

Weissman is CEO of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

Photo credit: Kenny Braun - Texas Highways Magazine