Fox in the Henhouse
May 8, 2019
President Trump Nominates Amtrak Board Member Who Repeatedly Voted to End Amtrak
As with most of what happens in Washington DC, important developments seem to take place after regular business hours. Last night’s nomination by President Donald Trump is another example of “maybe nobody will notice.”
At 7:20PM Eastern last night, our policy staffers learned that President Donald Trump had nominated Todd Rokita, the former Republican Congressman for Indiana, to the Amtrak Board of Directors. They immediately began researching his voting record on rail and transit, and what they found should worry every Amtrak passenger.
We found that Rokita voted against Amtrak in 8 of the 13 Amtrak-specific amendments we tracked. Some of Rokita’s most eye-raising anti-Amtrak votes include:
2017 – Voted YES on H.Amdt. 287 to H.R. 3354, filed by Rep. Mo Brooks, that would have eliminated funding to Amtrak’s National Network (the amendment failed).
2015 – Voted YES on H.Amdt. 72 to H.R. 749, filed by Rep. Tom McClintock, that would have completely ended federal grants for Amtrak (the amendment failed).
2011 – Voted YES on H.Amdt. 43 to H.R. 1, filed by Rep. Pete Sessions, would have reduced Amtrak’s capital grant by $446 million (the amendment failed).
Is this the person passengers want making policy that will direct Amtrak’s Richard Anderson on what to do with your train? Most of what board members do happens behind closed doors, but it has a big impact on the passenger experience. They establish policies, engage in corporate management and oversight, and help decide major issues addressing the railroad.
Most passengers don’t know what Amtrak’s board members do—and frankly, they shouldn’t have to. That’s why the Rail Passengers Association exists: to know, so you don’t have to keep track of the games taking place in Washington, D.C.
Our staff is already reaching out to Congressional offices to educate them on Rokita’s voting history. The likelihood of knocking down this nomination dramatically improves if we can activate the voices of passengers. Those same voices shouted down replacing the Southwest Chief with buses last year—there is no reason we can’t hold up a board nomination.
A suggested $50 donation supports the Association’s continuing efforts to hold Washington, D.C. accountable for their blatant disregard for the National Network and all rail passengers.
"On behalf of Amtrak’s onboard service staff, I want to thank the Rail Passengers Association for honoring their hard work with this award. The past couple years have indeed been difficult for Amtrak onboard service staff – coping with furloughs and job insecurity, adapting to changing protocols and services, not to mention the unfortunate events such as a tragic derailment and a fatal shooting. Nevertheless, our dedicated members at Amtrak have handled these hurdles with the care, attention and diligence for which they’re known. We thank Rail Passengers for their acknowledgement of our members’ hard work and, as always, look forward to seeing you on the rails."
Arthur Maratea, TCU/IAM National President
December 21, 2021, on the Association awarding its 2021 Golden Spike Award to the Frontline Amtrak Employees.