New STB member; RRB, NMB hopefuls waiting

April 18, 2011

WASHINGTON — A former John McCain aide, Ann Begeman, has been confirmed by the Senate as the one Republican on the three-member U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

Two other presidential nominees — Walt Barrows to become the labor member on the Railroad Retirement Board, succeeding Butch Speakman; and Republican Thomas Beck to the National Mediation Board, succeeding Elizabeth Doutherty — are awaiting hearings before the Senate Labor Committee. If the committee recommends confirmation, the nominations will move to the Senate floor for a vote.

Begeman succeeds Republican Chip Notthingham, who departed the STB following expiration of his term. Begeman’s term expires in December 2015. She joins Democratic Chairman Dan Elliott and Democrat Frank Mulvey.

Most recently, Begeman was Republican staff director for the Senate Commerce Committee, which recommended her nomination. From 2004-2009, Begeman was McCain’s legislative director and served as a McCain spokesperson during McCain’s unsuccessful run for the White House against President Obama. Earlier, she was a legislative aide to Sen. Larry Pressler (R-S.D.), who made an unsuccessful run in 1980 for the White House.

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

The three-person 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 STB also regulates railroad freight rates and freight-railroad dispatching of intercity Amtrak passenger trains.