October 1, 2014

Obama again names NMB, STB nominees

WASHINGTON — President Obama has renominated two Republicans to key transportation posts after the Senate failed to take action on the nominations last year.

Nominated to the three-person National Mediation Board, for a term expiring July 1, 2013, is Republican Thomas M. Beck.

Nominated to the three-person Surface Transportation Board, for a term expiring Dec. 31, 2015, is Republican Ann D. Begeman.

Both must be confirmed by the Senate before taking office.

Both agencies have Democratic majorities and will continue under Democratic control so long as a Democrat is in the White House.

Beck was nominated to succeed Republican Elizabeth Dougherty on the NMB. Dougherty’s term expired July 1, but under NMB rules she may continue serving indefinitely until a successor is confirmed.

Since Oct. 2, Beck has been serving as a Senate-confirmed member of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA). The FLRA administers labor-management relations for non-Postal Service federal employees.

Previously, Beck was a partner in the law firm of Jones Day, practicing labor and employment law. He is a 1992 graduate of the University of Virginia Law School. Beck also is a part-time professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., where he teaches courses on legislation and public policy.

The other two members of the NMB are Democrats — Chairman Harry Hoglander, who is serving his third term, and Linda Puchala, who was confirmed to her first term in May 2009.

Begeman was nominated to succeed Republican Chip Nottingham on the STB. Nottingham’s term expired Dec. 31, but under STB rules he may continue serving until a successor is confirmed, but no later than Dec. 31, 2011.

She currently is Republican staff director for the Senate Commerce Committee, but has been a long-time aide to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and served as a spokesperson for his unsuccessful run for president. Earlier, she was a legislative aide to Sen. Larry Pressler (R-S.D.).

Begeman earned a degree in business from the University of South Dakota.

The other two members of the STB are Democrats — Chairman Dan Elliott, who is serving his first term; and Frank Mulvey, who is serving his second term.

The STB has regulatory authority over railroad mergers and labor protection for rail employees adversely affected by mergers, line sales and leases, and line abandonments. The agency also regulates railroad freight rates.