Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester said he and the Biden administration are working toward a resolution to ensure that the Amtrak board of directors is geographically representative of the US, but he gave no indication of what that resolution might be.
Tester made his comments Wednesday at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on three of President Joe Biden’s six nominees for the Amtrak board. Tester and some Republicans have vowed to block the nominees unless the administration complies with a legal requirement that no more than four come from states in Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.
Five of the six nominees come from states within the corridor: Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island or the District of Columbia. Three of them — Joel Matthew Szabat, Anthony Rosario Coscia and Christopher Koos — testified Wednesday. Koos, from Illinois, was the only nominee from outside the corridor. Rosario is from New Jersey and Szabat is from Maryland.
“I don’t know – who wants to flip a coin?” joked Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., referring to the administration’s possible withdrawal of one of the six nominees.
Although Tester seemed confident about a solution, ranking panel member Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and other Republicans also cited concerns over Amtrak’s focus on the East Coast and ability to use those taxpayer dollars effectively.