Skip to main content
Press Release Published: Jun 27, 2024

Comer Probes Amtrak’s Use of Eminent Domain to Assert Control of D.C.’s Union Station

WASHINGTON—House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) is investigating Amtrak’s use of heavy-handed tactics, including eminent domain, to assert control over Washington, D.C.’s Union Station. In a letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Chairman Comer requests documents and information on the proposed justification for the use of eminent domain for the planned renovations and overhaul at Union Station.

“The Committee is concerned about Amtrak’s willingness to use eminent domain—an extraordinary power—not out of necessity, but apparently out of mere convenience,” wrote Chairman Comer. “Eminent domain is a power reserved for only the rarest of occasions, and removing a sublessor due to convenience does not meet that high bar. The complete overhaul of Union Station planned by Amtrak appears to be in direct conflict with existing law and appears to be little more than another example of abusive government overreach at Americans’ expense.

Union Station has operated as a public-private partnership since the Union Station Redevelopment Act of 1981. Amtrak’s attempts to exert powers such as eminent domain are in opposition to the law. The Union Station Redevelopment Act of 1981 recognized the importance that private sector partnerships must play in maintaining and revitalizing the historic Union Station. Amtrak’s recent efforts to remove such partners cause concern. These actions come after Amtrak’s Chief Executive Officer stated the goal is to “take away th[e] interference and distraction between us [and the private sector sublessor].”

“Amtrak CEO’s comments indicate a disregard for the law and the key role that private-sector partnerships have played throughout Union Station’s history.  Further, removing these private-sector partners will only serve to increase the amount of costs for which Amtrak is responsible,” continued Chairman Comer. “These actions are yet another attempt by this Administration to consolidate federal power at the expense of the taxpayers, and the Committee is committed to understanding why these actions are necessary.”

Read the letter to Secretary Buttigieg here.