Senate Confirms Rosen for USDOT “S-2” by 56-42 Vote

May 18, 2017

The U.S. Senate on May 16 confirmed the nomination of Jeffrey Rosen to be Deputy Secretary of Transportation by a mostly party-line roll call vote of 56 to 42. Six Democrats joined 50 Republicans in support of the nomination: Senators Donnelly (IN), Heitkamp (ND), Kaine (VA), Manchin (WV), Peters (MI), and Warner (VA). All 42 “no” votes were Democrats, and Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) did not vote.

Because almost everything gets filibustered these days, the Senate on May 15 had to invoke “cloture” in order to limit debate, which was done by a roll call vote of 52 to 42 (in the nuclear age, only 51 votes are now needed to invoke cloture on nominations, not the old threshold of 60).

Traditionally, when a nominee had enough minority party opposition to require a party-line cloture vote and a mostly party-line confirmation vote, the Senate would actually debate the merits of the nominee. But a word search for “Rosen” in the Congressional Record of Monday and Tuesday turns up a whole lot more mentions of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein than of Jeff Rosen.

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation chairman John Thune (R-SD) outlined Rosen’s resume and said “While it is my hope that the Senate will confirm this exceptionally well-qualified nominee today, it is my understanding that some of my Democrat colleagues will oppose him. It is my understanding that their decision is, in large part, because Mr. Rosen refused to publicly oppose President Trump’s proposed budget at his confirmation hearing last month. I think this is an unfair basis for opposing such a well-qualified nominee.”

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), a former Office of Management and Budget Director, recounted that “in 2006 I reached out to [Rosen] and asked him to join my team at the Office of Management and Budget. I wanted somebody who was a good lawyer but also someone who could manage well and give me good advice, and Jeffrey Rosen was that person. I recruited Jeff to serve as general counsel and senior policy advisor at OMB. In that role, he was always vigilant about the use of taxpayer dollars, a guy who understands those hard-earned dollars need to be stewarded properly. He was someone who focused on management in the Department. He understood the need for us to ensure that taxpayers are getting the best bang for the buck, and, finally, maybe most important, he gave me good advice. He was insightful but also honest. I think that kind of candid advice is exactly what every Department Secretary or leader would want, and that is what he will provide should he become Deputy Secretary.”

On the other side, Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) said “Mr. Rosen has a long history, both in government and in the private sector, of defending private industry against regulations designed to protect the American public. When he first worked for the Department of Transportation, he touted the fact that he was involved in ending or withdrawing 180 potential Transportation Department rulemakings… I will vote no on Mr. Rosen’s nomination because our automobile safety, environment, and clean energy future are just too important.” Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) expressed similar views.

Also this week, the White House got around to formally submitting the paperwork for Derek Kan’s nomination to be Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy, which will allow the Senate Commerce Committee to hold a hearing on his nomination.

This also allows us to update our timetable for the Trump Administration’s progress in nominating appointees to the Department of Transportation. Gauged against the first years of the last five presidents, the Trump White House is falling behind the Obama Administration’s pace of nominations and is getting ready to surpass George W. Bush in terms of delays to jobs like the heads of the big modal administrations and the Assistant Secretaries of Transportation.


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