FAA Administrator Whitaker Confirmed, Sworn In

Mike Whitaker was sworn in for a five-year term as Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration this morning, following a unanimous confirmation vote by the U.S. Senate on October 24.

In a ten-minute ceremony this morning (watch it on YouTube here), Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg (who has been running the FAA on an acting basis for the last four months) swore Whitaker into office.

If one did not know better, the speed and goodwill of Whitaker’s confirmation process would make one think that we were back in the Good Old Days (an ill-defined period of at least 30 years ago when comity ruled the Senate and Senators would only block a bill or a nomination a handful of times in their whole career). Consider the calendar:

  • September 7, 2023 – nomination formally made.
  • October 4, 2023 – confirmation hearing held in committee.
  • October 18, 2023 – committee votes to confirm nominee and reports nomination to the floor.
  • October 24, 2023 – full Senate confirms nominee by a vote of 98 to 0.

By modern Senate standards, that is not just fast, that is going all the way to Plaid.

After the 98 to 0 vote, the bipartisan transportation leaders of Congress indicated why the vote was so strong:

“Michael Whitaker’s overwhelming confirmation demonstrates the Senate’s commitment to getting aviation right. There is a lot to do on FAA staffing, technology upgrades, and safety improvements and Whitaker is the right person to lead it.” – Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA)

“After 18 months without a Senate-confirmed FAA administrator, I am pleased that Mike Whitaker will step into this critically important role. Now that the FAA’s leadership void has been addressed, the Senate must put the interest of American travelers first and pass an FAA reauthorization bill. We cannot continue allowing special interests to dictate what duly-elected senators can and cannot vote on. It’s time to formalize the bipartisan agreement reached months ago so the FAA gets the resources it needs to refocus on its core mission of maintaining the highest possible safety standards for the flying public.” – Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation ranking minority member Ted Cruz (R-TX)

“We want to congratulate Michael Whitaker on being confirmed as the next Administrator of the FAA. This is a critical time for aviation, and the FAA has been without an Administrator for far too long. Mr. Whitaker’s confirmation will provide much needed stability and certainty for the agency and the broader aviation industry as a whole.” – House Transportation and Infrastructure chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) and Aviation Subcommittee chair Garret Graves (R-LA)

“Congratulations to Michael Whitaker on his confirmation as the new leader of the Federal Aviation Administration. I look forward to working with him to build a safer, cleaner, greener and more accessible aviation system starting with the speedy passage of our job-creating FAA reauthorization bill which awaits action in the Senate.” – House Transportation and Infrastructure ranking minority member Rick Larsen (D-WA)

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