Durbin Meets with Former Macomb Mayor to Discuss His Re-Nomination to Amtrak Board
Senate is debating transportation appropriations bill which boosts funding for Amtrak, similar House Republican bill would cut funding by 34%
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today met with former Mayor of Macomb, Illinois and current member of the Amtrak Board of Directors, Thomas Carper who was recently re-nominated by President Barack Obama to serve on the Amtrak Board. Carper’s re-nomination must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
In the meeting, Durbin and Carper discussed the Senate’s bill – which is currently being debated – to fund the Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the 2014 fiscal year that includes $1.45 billion in funding for Amtrak. A similar bill passed by the House Appropriations Committee last month would drastically cut, by 34%, the account Amtrak uses to conduct critical safety- improvements, inspections and maintenance, and increase capacity and efficiency of the nationwide system.
“Amtrak has made incredible progress under Chairman Carper's leadership,” said Durbin. “But Congress must also do its part by providing Amtrak with the resources it needs to continue modernizing our transportation system and creating jobs. This week, the Senate is debating a bipartisan proposal that will help keep Amtrak on its current path of record breaking growth. Strong funding for passenger rail creates jobs and gives Illinois residents a safe, affordable option when travelling.”
The Senate’s Fiscal Year 2014 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill provides $1.75 billion for our nation’s rail infrastructure, including $1.45 billion for Amtrak, and represents an increase of $137 million from the fiscal year 2013 enacted level. By providing adequate funding to Amtrak, more than 500 communities in 46 states across the country will continue to see improved passenger rail service. In addition, $100 million is provided for Capital Assistance for National High Performance Passenger Rail Grants.
In stark contrast, the House Fiscal Year 2014 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill makes a drastic 34 percent cut to the account Amtrak uses to conduct critical safety- improvements, inspections and maintenance, and increase capacity and efficiency of the nationwide system. The bill provides no funds for high-speed rail initiatives, and not only zeroes out funding for the successful TIGER grants program that have supported rail-related projects nationwide, but rescinds half of the funds already appropriated for TIGER in Fiscal Year 2013.
Durbin first recommended Carper for the Amtrak Board in 2007. Shortly afterward, he was nominated by President Bush and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on March 14, 2008. In 2009, he was elected Chairman of the Board. In a November 2012 letter to President Obama, Durbin wrote in support of re-nominating Carper.
In April, Amtrak announced that, nationwide, their routes posted ridership increases in the first six months of fiscal year 2013 (October 2012 – March 2013) representing a combine 0.9% increase over the first six months of fiscal year 2012, which was a record ridership year. Illinois’ Chicago to Carbondale route during that time posted a 9.8% increase – the third largest increase in the country.
The Amtrak Board of Directors sets corporate policy and oversees the management of the company. The board is made up of 7 voting members appointed for five-year terms by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. Among the 7 members is an ex officio Federal government representative, a position held by the Secretary of Transportation.
As Mayor of Macomb from 1991-2003, Carper led the fight to preserve passenger rail service in the region and State. In 1991 Carper was appointed by the Amtrak Board of Directors to the Amtrak Mayors ’ Advisory Council and served as its Chair from 2000 to 2001. While serving as Mayor, Carper attained leadership roles in various State wide organizations, including: Board of Directors of the Illinois Municipal League (1993 to 2003), Chair of the IML Non Home Rule Committee, (1994 to 2003) and the Board of Directors of the Illinois Humanities Council and the Illinois Arts Alliance.
After Carper’s tenure as mayor, he was named as the regional director for the West Central region for Opportunity Returns – a regional economic development plan. He graduated from Western Illinois University and served in the U.S. Army from 1967 to 1970 in Thailand and Vietnam. He was a small business owner-operator from 1971 to 1991 when he was first elected Mayor of Macomb.
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