WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) expressed his support for three Amtrak nominees during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing. Sen. Moran had previously placed holds on the nominations of Joseph Ryan Gruters, Leon Westmoreland and Rick Dearborn to be members of the Amtrak Board of Directors. These holds were placed until Amtrak honored an agreement to provide $3 million in matching funds to a TIGER grant for the long-distance Southwest Chief line, which runs through Kansas.
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“Long-distance passenger service routes like the Southwest Chief are essential for connecting rural Kansas communities to major cities and economic opportunities,” said Sen. Moran. “My intent on placing original holds on the three nominees that we marked up today stemmed from a broken commitment that Amtrak made to Kansas, New Mexico and Colorado. I was pleased Amtrak ultimately decided to uphold their funding commitment in February 2019. That decision was the first indication Amtrak was going to work toward preserving long-distance routes. Following that announcement, I worked with each nominee, and Amtrak’s former CEO, to make certain of their commitment for not only the Southwest Chief, but long-distance passenger service.”
In February 2019, Amtrak finally released the $3 million in matching funds to complete the federal TIGER IX grant awarded in January of 2018 for safety upgrades and maintenance on the train’s route in Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico. In the months that followed the announcement, Sen. Moran, along with Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), worked with each Amtrak nominee to gain assurance of their commitment to long-distance passenger routes and the steps they would take, if confirmed, to ensure the routes’ preservation. The three nominees provided written responses detailing their commitment to and unwavering support and advocacy for long-distance passenger routes.
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