Senate committee advances nomination of Rokita for Amtrak board

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WASHINGTON — The nomination of former U.S. Rep Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) to Amtrak’s board of directors will move to the U.S. Senate after being approved on a voice vote in committee this week.

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved the nomination earlier this week. President Donald Trump nominated Rokita in May for a five-year term on the board [see “Trump to nominate former Indiana congressman Rokita to Amtrak board,” Trains News Wire, May 9, 2019.]

Rokita served as a congressman from 2011 to 2019. He twice voted to defund Amtrak. In July testimony before the committee, he said the votes were to “send a message.”

WRTV News quotes Rokita as saying during that committee appearance, ““Sometimes in sending a message, we’re limited to yes, to no or to present. I believe in fiscal responsibility for all of us. I believe my votes against these funding provisions sent a message to Amtrak.” He also noted he had voted for the 2015 FAST Act, which helped create grant funding for Amtrak.

Still pending, according to the U.S. Congress website, are the nominations of Rick Dearborn, a former deputy chief of staff for President Trump; Joseph R. Gruters, a former Florida state representative who was co-chair of the president’s 2016 campaign in Florida, and former U.S. Rep. Leon A. Westmoreland of Georgia, who also voted twice to defund Amtrak. All have had their nominations placed on hold by U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.).

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