Most Pending Transportation Nominations Sent Back to White House

The First Session of the 116th Congress ended at noon today, per the Constitution. And, per clause 5 of Senate Rule XXXI, “Nominations neither confirmed nor rejected during the session at which they are made shall not be acted upon at any succeeding session without being again made to the Senate by the President.”

On December 19, just before leaving town for the year, the Senate agreed to a unanimous consent request to keep certain pending nominations in the status quo, notwithstanding clause 5 of rule XXI – to keep those nominations live, without returning them to the President. But that list of nominees only included one transportation-relation nominee – Michelle Schultz to be a member of the Surface Transportation Board for a full five-year term. (Her nomination was reported from the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in July 2019 but has been waiting to be paired up with a yet-to-be-named Republican nominee).

The other nine transportation-related nominations that had been pending in the Senate were, therefore, sent back to the White House today. President Trump must formally re-nominate any or all of them in order to have them considered by the Senate again. In some instances, if the President re-nominates them, the committee of jurisdiction may have to hold new markup sessions to re-report the nominees once again and place them back on the Executive Calendar.

Three exceptions: Finch Fulton, who was nominated to be Assistant Secretary of Transportation for Transportation Policy on December 9, 2019, had not yet had his committee hearing. And the two nominees for the MWAA board had been nominated by President Trump in January 2019 and were being considered under an expedited process – per S. Res. 116, nominees for some minor posts can bypass committee and go straight to the Executive Calendar once the White House submits paperwork to the Senate. But for 11 months, the White House never sent said paperwork to the Senate on the MWAA nominees. So if the White House doesn’t plan on submitting the paperwork for the MWAA nominees in 2020, there is no point in resubmitting the names.

The new issue of the Executive Calendar, published just after noon today, has been culled of all the nominations returned to the President.

Trump Administration Transportation Nominations Returned to the President by the Senate on January 3, 2020
Department of Transportation Diana Furchtgott-Roth Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology
Department of Transportation Finch Fulton Assistant Secretary, Transportation Policy
DOT – Federal Transit Administration Thelma Drake Administrator
Amtrak Board of Directors Rick Dearborn Member for a term of five years
Amtrak Board of Directors Joseph Gruters Member for a term of five years
Amtrak Board of Directors Todd Rokita Member for the remainder of a 5-year term expiring 1/3/21
Amtrak Board of Directors Lynn Westmoreland Member for a term of five years
Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board Alan Cobb Member for a term expiring 11/22/23
Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board William S. McDermott Member for a term expiring 5/30/24

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