Committee Reviews Amtrak Board Nominees

The Biden administration has nominated Republican Joel Matthew Szabat to a seat on the Amtrak board of directors.

Szabat, who resides in Maryland, served as Undersecretary of Transportation for Policy in the Trump administration.

Biden has appointed five Democrats to the Amtrak board, with four of them residing at the south end of the Northeast Corridor.

Only Chris Koos, the mayor of Normal, Illinois, resides west of the Potomac.

Three more Republican nominees will need to be appointed to the Amtrak board and by law all of them must be from outside the Northeast.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act mandates that “four individuals shall reside in or near regions of the United States that are geographically distributed outside of the Northeast Corridor.”

The five Democratic nominees for the Amtrak board were nominated early last May.

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation held a hearing last month on the nominations.

Two members of the committee, Jon Tester (D-Montana) and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) expressed frustration during the hearing over the lack of geographic diversity among the nominees to the Amtrak board with none of them residing in a western state.

Tester noted that none of the nominees had been to Montana.

“I don’t plan to stop you, but you guys have a lot of work to understand what is going on,” Tester said in reference to how he would vote on the nominations.

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