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 members for the Amtrak Board of Directors:

  • Anthony Coscia (re-nomination), the current board chairman and former chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
  • David Capozzi (new), retired Executive Director of the U.S. Access Board.
  • Christopher Koos (new), Mayor of Normal, Indiana.
  • Samuel Lathem (new), President of the Delaware State AFL-CIO
  • Robin Weissmann, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

Amtrak’s organizing statute (49 U.S.C. §24302) requires that the Amtrak Board consist of the Amtrak CEO, the Secretary of Transportation, and “8 individuals appointed by the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, with general business and financial experience, experience or qualifications in transportation, freight and passenger rail transportation, travel, hospitality, cruise line, or passenger air transportation businesses, or representatives of employees or users of passenger rail transportation or a State government.”

There are residency requirements (not too many from one place), one must be have a disability, and no more then five of the eight can be from the same political party.

The current Amtrak Board consists entirely of holdovers whose five-year terms have already expired:

  1. Christopher Beall (R), term expired Jan. 2018
  2. Yvonne Braithwaite Burke (D), term expired Jan. 2018
  3. Thomas C. Carper (D), term expired Aug. 2018
  4. Anthony Coscia (D), term expired Dec. 2020
  5. Albert DiClemente (D), term expired Sept. 2017
  6. Jeffrey Moreland (R), term expired June 2015
  7. vacancy (was Derek Kan (R)), term expired Jan. 2021.
  8. vacancy (never filled)

Of the five new nominees, Coscia is a Democrat, Koos (who was nominated for the Board in 2020) is a Democrat, and Lathem can be presumed to be a Democrat because anyone who runs the a state AFL-CIO chapter, in Delaware no less, can be presumed to be a Democrat. Weissman, too, should be presumed to be a Democrat since her bio says she served in the Cabinet of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D). We are not sure as to Capozzi’s party affiliation.

Once the formal nomination paperwork is received by the Senate, we should know which Board members each new nominee is supposed to replace, which would then tell us who will be left on the Board. But we don’t know yet.

The nominations, when formally made, will be referred to the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. But if the last few years are any indication, the only way the nominations will move to the Senate floor is if paired with future Republican nominees so that the full board, with a 5-3 party makeup, can be stood up at the same time.

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