President Donald Trump on Monday tapped Chris Koos, the mayor of downstate Normal, for the Amtrak board of directors, with the move coming after Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., recommended him for the position.
Many other Trump nominations have stalled because of ongoing partisan warfare. Having the support of Durbin and Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., means the Senate Democrats will not block his appointment once Trump formally sends his nomination to the Senate for confirmation.
Trump also picked Sarah Feinberg for the Amtrak Board. When ex-Mayor Rahm Emanuel was White House chief of staff for former President Barack Obama, Feinberg was his spokeswoman and adviser.
Feinberg is the interim president of New York City Transit. Under Obama, Feinberg was the administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration.
Eight out of the 10 Amtrak board members are picked by the president, subject to confirmation by the Senate. Koos is one of the Democratic picks.
The statute requires the president to consult with the Democratic and Republican House and Senate leaders on Amtrak board picks. As a practical matter, the eight Amtrak board members are split evenly between the parties.
Durbin said in a statement, “I recommended Mayor Koos for this important position, and I’m glad the President nominated him today. Mayor Koos understands the importance of passenger rail to communities in Illinois and across the country. He will be an important voice for Illinois and the Midwest in support of growing and protecting Amtrak’s national network, and I look forward to supporting his nomination.”
Duckworth, the Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Transportation and Safety with jurisdiction over Amtrak, said in a statement, “I applaud the decision to nominate Mayor Koos to join the Amtrak Board of Directors,” Duckworth said. “Mayor Koos has long advocated for common sense transportation policies, and his views and experience as an Illinois municipal leader will be a welcome addition to this Board. I look forward to supporting his nomination.”
Part of Normal is in Rep. Darin LaHood’s district, and the Republican in a statement backed the Koos pick.
“President Trump has made a great selection in naming Normal Mayor Chis Koos to the Amtrak Board. Mayor Koos is a hardworking, thoughtful Mayor who always puts the best interests of Normal first. Over the years, I have worked with Mayor Koos on a plethora of issues, such as securing federal funds for many transportation investment projects, including the Uptown Normal Underpass. I look forward working with Mayor Koos in this new role to continue strengthening Illinois infrastructure.”