In a rare example of continuity between the Trump and Biden Administrations, the U.S. Senate this week confirmed President Biden’s renomination of President Trump’s Transportation Security Administration chief, David Pekoske, to serve a second term running TSA.
The Senate voted on September 15 to confirm Pekoske’s nomination for a second full five-year term by a vote of 77 to 18. All 18 of the “no” votes (and all 5 of the absentees) were Republicans. By contrast, Pekoske’s earlier Senate confirmation vote, on August 3, 2017, was by unanimous consent.
Before being selected to head TSA, Pekoske served 33 years as a Coast Guard officer, ending up as vice commandant. Trump nominated him to be Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Transportation Security on June 6, 2017, and he was confirmed less than two months later.
The original confirmation was when the job was a typical “at the pleasure of the President” post. But then, in October 2018, Congress enacted the TSA Modernization Act (Division K of Public Law 115-254) which converted Pekoske’s job to be TSA Administrator and to have a fixed term of 5 years, with the caveat that the term of any incumbent at the time the law was enacted was to start on the day the incumbent began serving.
So Pekoske’s 5-year term started whenever he was sworn in after his Senate confirmation and was going to end at that same point in August 2022, so President Biden nominated him for a second 5-year term on May 9 of this year.
In the interim, Pekoske wound up serving a half-year as Acting Deputy Secretary of Transportation in 2019, during that period when Trump was firing everybody else at DHS. And he served two weeks as Acting Secretary in January-February 2021, because the fixed nature of his term made him the only Senate-confirmed holdover as of Biden’s inauguration. He then remained Acting Deputy Secretary again until the confirmation of the Biden-nominated Deputy in June 2021.