In one of Washington’s seemingly interminable confirmation dramas, the Senate finally voted two of President Trump’s nominees to join the Surface Transportation Board – but took so long to do so that another sitting member’s term expired.
The Senate confirmed new members Patrick Fuchs (Republican) and Martin Oberman (Democrat) for five-year terms that expire at the end of 2023. Both were nominated by the President last year. Senate Democrats had stalled on earlier nominations until Trump named Oberman.
They will serve with STB Republican Chairman Ann Begeman and Deb Miller (Democrat) who can continue to serve after her term expired on Dec. 31. She is expected to be renominated.
Rail shippers had complained about the delay in recreating a quorum for the independent agency responsible for regulating rail rates and service.
“The long-standing vacancies at the board have severely hampered the STB’s ability to address ongoing freight rail issues and advance overdue regulatory reforms,” said the Rail Customer Coalition.
In December, the coalition sent a letter to President Trump asking the White House to work with Senate leadership to act quickly and confirm the nominees.
American Chemistry Council President Cal Dooley, said, “The board can now get down to business on adopting new policies that will help promote a more competitive and reliable freight rail system.”
Ian Jefferies, president of the Association of American Railroads, also was pleased. “We are confident that these new STB Commissioners will govern sensibly and be driven by sound economic principles,” he declared.
“We hope that after careful review of pending proposals that the board forgoes measures that limit the rail industry’s ability to invest for the future. The AAR and its members look forward to robust and transparent dialogue with the STB.”