INDIANAPOLIS — Former U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, a Munster native, last year was unsuccessful at riding the "Trump Train" to Indiana's Republican U.S. Senate nomination.
But President Donald Trump is giving Rokita another ticket to ride by announcing that he intends to nominate Rokita to a seat on the Amtrak board of directors.
If officially nominated and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Rokita will join the nine-member board that sets policy for the National Passenger Rail Corp., whose funding Rokita repeatedly sought to eliminate during his eight-year tenure in the U.S. House.
In 2015, for example, Rokita voted in favor of an amendment to House Bill 749 that would have terminated all federal subsidies for Amtrak; a vote that won Rokita praise from numerous conservative interest groups.
The underlying measure, providing $7.2 billion in federal funding for Amtrak through 2019, nevertheless passed the Republican-controlled House, 316-101.
At the same time, Rokita tweeted favorably about a December 2017 ride with his son on Amtrak's three-day-a-week Cardinal service that passes through Indiana on its route between New York City and Washington, D.C. to Chicago.
"Great to be cruising through Indiana on the Hoosier State Cardinal Line with Ryan. Busy night on the train with all 10 cars being sold out," Rokita said.
"As a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee tasked with reviewing our nation's railroads, it is great to see these trains working well for Hoosiers."
The Hoosier State actually is a separate Amtrak route that runs between Indianapolis and Chicago — most of which is Rokita's former congressional district — on the four days a week that the Cardinal does not pass through Indiana.
However, the new state budget in House Enrolled Act 1001 eliminates the $3 million annual state subsidy for Hoosier State service, and the route no longer will carry passengers after June 30.