STB chairman will not seek reappointment to agency

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Surface Transportation Board Chairman Marty Oberman will not seek reappointment to the agency, the STB confirmed late Thursday.
STB spokesman Michael Booth said Oberman announced at the RailTrends conference in New York that he had decided against seeking reappointment, according to a news release from the board. The release said Oberman will continue to serve several months into next year, which is within his one-year holdover period. His current term is set to expire on Dec. 31 of this year.
STB gave no further details. Oberman was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Jan. 2, 2019, to serve a five-year term.
He was often outspoken in criticism of the railroads’ handling of service issues, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. His critiques, which at times seemed to put him at odds with the railroads, earned kudos from both shippers and unions because he sought to call hearings and establish proceedings on rail service and publicly linked subpar service with declining head count at the U.S. Class I railroads.
Oberman’s pending departure will raise speculation not only about who will replace him as chairman of STB, but also whom Congress might designate as his replacement so that the board can have its full complement of five members. Fewer than five members — a situation that the board has encountered in the past — could result in a board with two Republican appointees and two Democratic appointees.
Although Oberman was nominated by former President Donald Trump to be on the board, he has been affiliated with the Democratic Party. President Joe Biden later named him as chairman.
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