Biden’s Pick to Head FAA Withdraws After Senate Panel Stalemate
(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the Federal Aviation Administration withdrew from consideration in the face of Republican opposition in the Senate, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said.
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Phil Washington has run Denver International Airport since 2021 and before that had largely surface transportation experience, prompting Republicans to raise concerns about his lack of experience working as a pilot or for an airline.
In a Twitter post late Saturday, Buttigieg blamed “partisan attacks and procedural obstruction” for Washington’s decision, saying they were “undeserved.” The Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in the Democratic-led Senate had postponed a scheduled vote on his nomination last week.
The FAA has been without a permanent leader for about a year. Washington would have been the agency’s first permanent Black administrator if confirmed.
A White House official said Washington had the right qualifications and experience for the role and blamed Republican attacks for sinking his nomination. The administration will move swiftly to nominate a new candidate, according to the official.
Among the disputes was GOP lawmakers’ insistence that Washington’s status as a military retiree meant he required a waiver passed by both chambers. The administration and Democratic lawmakers said a waiver wasn’t needed.
A recent series of near-crashes in US aviation have turned attention to the FAA, prompting steps by the agency to review safety.
--With assistance from Justin Sink.
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