More Administration Hires for Transportation Announced

May 11, 2017

President Trump on May 8 announced a fourth Presidential appointment to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Adam Sullivan will be nominated to be Assistant Secretary of Transportation for Governmental Affairs.

Getting a nominee through the Senate in this polarized time requires friends, and Sullivan is currently a staffer for the Senate Appropriations Committee, which can’t hurt. He works on the Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee, and he knows the “Labor” part from his time working at the Department of Labor in the George W. Bush Administration when Elaine Chao was the Secretary. Sullivan worked in in the office of Labor’s Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, first as a liaison for budget and appropriations, then as Deputy Assistant Secretary, Congressional.

Sullivan left Labor to work for the Harris Corporation, a major player in both defense and civil aviation (they run the ADS-B program), working on national security issues. He also worked on Capitol Hill for Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) at one point.

ETW is also informed that Sean McMaster, most recently the Deputy Chief of Staff for former Rep. John Mica (R-FL), is or will be a Deputy Assistant SecDOT for Governmental Affairs. We’re still not sure how Sec. Chao and her team will divide the workload within that office. As ETW reported two weeks ago, Sec. Chao recently took action to centralize authority for governmental relations in all modal administrations (except the FAA) in the Assistant Secretary.

In other senior DOT appointee news, on May 10 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) filed cloture on the nomination of Jeffrey Rosen to be Deputy Secretary of Transportation. At press time, it was unclear exactly when the cloture vote will occur (the Senate has to deal with the U.S. Trade Representative nomination first), but the Senate should reach a final disposition of the Rosen nomination by the middle of next week. Rosen’s nomination was approved in committee on April 7.

Also this week, the indefatigable Alex Herrgott left Capitol Hill, where he was the longtime top transportation staffer to Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and has moved to the White House. Herrgott joins the Council for Environmental Quality, where he will be Associate Director for Infrastructure.

The very existence of such a job is evidence of the change of priorities in the new Administration. The December 2016 edition of the Government Manual shows that under President Obama, the CEQ was organized to have Associate Directors for Climate Preparedness, Conservation and Wildlife, Energy and Climate Change, Lands and Water Ecosystems, and Ocean and Coastal Policy – but not “infrastructure.” The closest it came was an A.D. for “NEPA Oversight.”

(When a final Manual or directory comes out this fall, the reorganizational changes across the Executive Office of the President will make fascinating reading.)


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