Hartford Courant

Senate panel delays vote on Biden’s FAA choice

- By David Koenig

A vote on President Joe Biden’s choice to run the Federal Aviation Administra­tion was delayed indefinite­ly Wednesday in the face of an opposition blitz by Republican­s, who say the nominee lacks enough experience in aviation to lead the agency, which is under pressure to stem a surge in dangerous close calls between planes.

The Senate Commerce Committee was scheduled to vote on Denver Internatio­nal Airport CEO Phillip Washington, whose nomination has languished since Biden announced his choice last July.

Committee Chair Maria Cantwell, D-wash., said the vote would be delayed to gather informatio­n requested by senators.

She did not detail the informatio­n or name the committee members who sought the delay.

The FAA has not had a Senate-confirmed administra­tor since March 2022, when Stephen Dickson stepped down midway through his term.

The agency is being led by an acting administra­tor, Billy Nolen.

The FAA administra­tor is not a Cabinet-level job, but Republican­s have turned the nomination into a high-profile contest with Biden and Senate Democrats.

Washington ran transit agencies in Denver and Los Angeles, but his only aviation-related experience has come since taking the top job at the Denver airport in July 2021.

Washington has strong ties to the administra­tion; he led the incoming Biden administra­tion’s transition team for the Transporta­tion Department, which includes the FAA.

Republican­s argue, however, that he lacks experience in FAA’S core mission of aviation safety.

Federal investigat­ors are examining six recent close calls between planes.

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