WATCHING WASHINGTON, APRIL 2019 – Stanley found Livingstone faster than vacancies on the five-member Surface Transportation Board (STB) have been filled, with two remaining more than three years after Congress increased from three the number of Senate-confirmed seats.
Somewhat buried in history is that today’s railroad map is a product of behind-the-scenes actions by former Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ernest Frederick (Fritz) Hollings (D-S.C.), who died April 6 at age 97. He was Commerce Committee Chairman 1987-1995 and 2001-2003, during years Democrats controlled the Senate. He left office in 2005.
Former Surface Transportation Board (STB) member Deb Miller, a Kansas Democrat, has withdrawn her name from contention for renomination by President Trump to a second term.
Restoration of the 50% investment tax credit for short line railroads—commonly known as 45-G for its designated section in the Internal Revenue Code—again appears a reality in Congress after that “wall thing” debate interfered with the tax credit’s passage just prior to final adjournment of the 115th Congress.
Watching Washington, January 2019: Prominently on Harry Truman’s Oval Office desk was a sign, “The buck stops here.” Newly confirmed members of the Surface Transportation Board (STB) may wish to reflect on that acknowledgment of accountability as they wade through a troubling backlog of unfinished rulemakings—some disregarded for years.
Five nominations for rail transportation federal leadership posts were announced Jan. 16 by President Trump. All are nominees from the previous session of Congress, and were cleared by respective Senate oversight committees for confirmation on the Senate floor—but none advanced for a floor vote prior to the Senate adjourning.
UPDATE: “Knock, knock.” Seriously, if you’re awaiting a “Who’s there?” response from many railroad-important federal agencies, you ain’t gonna get one, because, quite literally, there’s nobody there.
In the people’s company town of Washington, D.C., the most popular refrain during lame duck sessions of Congress—the fewer than 60 days between congressional elections and adjournment—is the catchphrase from Mariah Carey’s iconic tune, “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”
Watching Washington, December 2018 Railway Age: New leadership arrives at railroad-focused congressional committees in January, and unless Surface Transportation Board (STB) Chairman Ann Begeman ingests breakfast Wheaties and gains courage to produce decisions, Congress may prescribe more than a potent laxative.
Union Pacific’s plan to implement Precision Scheduled Railroading caught the attention of the Surface Transportation Board, which on Sept. 20 sent a letter signed by Chairman Ann Begeman and Vice Chairman Deb Miller to UP chief executive Lance Fritz requesting that the railroad’s senior management engage in weekly calls with the Board’s Rail Customer and Public Assistance office during the implementation process. The purpose of the calls is “to keep the agency fully informed of UP’s operating changes and impacts to customers and others.”