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Former Rep. Todd Rokita nominated to Amtrak board, despite prior votes to defund

Posted: 2:02 PM, May 08, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-08 18:02:50Z
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INDIANAPOLIS — Former U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Indiana, was nominated to the Amtrak board of directors, an organization he twice voted to defund.

President Donald Trump nominated Rokita to an open position on the board on Tuesday.

But when Rokita was in the U.S. House of Representatives, he voted to end federal funding to Amtrak at least twice.

One vote came in March 2015, when he voted no on the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015, which reauthorized federal support for Amtrak and other programs. Rokita voted no, but the vote passed, 316-101. Another came in 2017, as part of an amendment to specifically to defund Amtrak. Rokita voted yes, but the vote failed, 128-293.

Despite Trump’s nomination, it’s not a sure thing that Rokita will actually serve on the board. He first must get confirmed by the Senate, and that has proven tough for Trump’s Amtrak nominees.

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, has held up confirmation on three previous Amtrak nominees, until the company makes assurances it will fund a rail service through his state. Amtrak officials have scheduled a meeting with Moran to discuss the rail line.

In February, Rokita joined Indianapolis-based Apex Benefits as general counsel and vice president of legal affairs. Apex Benefits is an employer-focused health care company.

Rokita served as Indiana’s secretary of state from 2003-11, then as a U.S. Representative from 2011-19. In Congress, Rokita served on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.