Senate Confirms Bose to Head FRA; Still No FHWA, PHMSA Nominees

The U.S. Senate on January 12 confirmed Amit Bose to be Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration by a bipartisan 68 to 29 vote. All Democrats present voted in favor of the nomination, along with Republican Senators Barrasso (WY), Blunt (MO), Burr (NC), Capito (WV), Cassidy (LA), Collins (ME), Fischer (NE), Graham (SC), Grassley (IA), Lummis (WY), Moran (KS), Murkowski (AK), Portman (OH), Romney (UT), Rounds (SD), Thune (SD), Tillis (NC), Toomey (PA), Wicker (MS), and Young (IN). The three absentees (Feinstein (CA), Schatz (HI), and Sanders (VT)) were all Democrats or Democratic-caucusing independents.

Bose is the second Department of Transportation modal administrator to be confirmed under the Biden Administration, following Federal Transit Administrator Nuria Fernandez, who was confirmed in June 2021. President Biden has two other modal nominees currently pending in committee in the Senate (Ann Phillips at MARAD and Steve Cliff at NHTSA), and a third nominee (Meera Joshi at FMCSA) has pulled out to take a job as a Deputy Mayor of New York City. (FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson’s fixed five-year term is not up until July 2024.)

This means that it is starting to get really noticeable that President Biden has not yet nominated anyone to run the oldest and largest (in financial terms) modal administration, the Federal Highway Administration, even though FHWA is now working overtime to implement the new bipartisan infrastructure law. Nor has the President nominated a candidate to run the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. (Every day that goes by without a PHMSA nominee brings us closer to the next high-profile pipeline or hazmat accident in the news, and if there is no nominee on the board when that happens, you can expect the lack of a nominee to be a loud partisan talking point.)

Focusing just on the FHWA post, this is officially the longest it has taken a President to pick a FHWA nominee since the creation of USDOT and the conversion of the Bureau of Public Roads into the Federal Highway Administration.

Presidential nomination dates of their first FHWA Administrator:

  • Richard Nixon – February 21, 1969
  • Jimmy Carter – March 31, 1977
  • Ronald Reagan – February 4, 1981
  • George H.W. Bush – June 6, 1989
  • Bill Clinton – April 28, 1993
  • George W. Bush – July 31, 2001
  • Barack Obama – April 23, 2009
  • Donald Trump – September 11, 2017
  • Joe Biden – ???

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