Nominations News: Senate Panel OK’s FMCSA Head, MWAA Board Member; POTUS Makes STB Nominee; Sully Out at ICAO

There was a smattering of transportation nomination news in Washington this week.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on June 22 approved two more Presidential nominees for transportation positions:

  • Robin Hutcheson, to be Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; and
  • Sean Burton to fill the remainder of an expired term on the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board of Directors until May 2024.

Both nominees are now on the Executive Calendar and await Senate floor action.

This means that the Commerce Committee has cleared its slate of Biden USDOT nominees, and any unfilled positions can no longer be blamed on the committee, but on the White House for failing to nominate people.

(Everyone should bookmark our constantly-updated list of all Biden Administration transportation nominees and their status.)

The Commerce Committee does have some pending railroad nominations outside DOT – five proposed members of the Amtrak Board of Directors nominated on May 3, and a new nomination from the President this week – current Surface Transportation Board member Robert Primus being re-nominated for a full term to expire at the end of 2027. Expect a hearing (hopefully before the August recess) on those.

And yesterday, Chester “Sully” Sullenberger announced that he will be stepping down as the U.S. Ambassador to the International Civil Aviation Authority in Montreal next week, after just six months on the job.

President Biden nominated Sullenberger as envoy to ICAO on June 23, 2021, and his nomination moved fairly quickly by modern Senate standards due to his “Miracle on the Hudson” celebrity – a hearing before Foreign Relations on September 29, approved by committee on October 19, and approved by the full Senate on December 2. Per his ICAO biography page, he was then sworn in on December 11, 2021 and took up his duties in Montreal on February 2 of this year.

Sullenberger’s resignation is particularly ill-timed because ICAO does most of its work every three years, at a triannual assembly, and that assembly is scheduled for September-October 2022. It would be a heavy lift for President Biden to recruit another person, nominate them, and then get the Senate to confirm them by this time.

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