Senate Panel Approves DOT, FMC Nominees, but Sen. Scott Puts Hold on All DOT Noms

On November 17, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved two more Presidential nominees for transportation positions – Chris Coes, to be Assistant Secretary of Transportation for Transportation Policy, and Max Vekich, to be a member of the Federal Maritime Commission.

However, the chances of Coes getting confirmed this year dimmed the following day, when Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), a member of the Commerce panel, announced that it was his “intention to hold all Department of Transportation and Department of Commerce nominees, that have been favorably reported by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, on the Senate Floor.”

Scott’s letter says that he will relinquish his hold on those nominees only if Commerce chairman Maria Cantwell (D-WA) will “immediately schedule and hold an oversight hearing in the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee to address the current supply chain crisis, and call on Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo to testify about the Biden administration’s plans to solve this crisis.”

Until Scott is placated, it won’t be possible to confirm any of the USDOT nominees currently pending on the Executive Calendar by unanimous consent. (The usual custom is for the Senate to pass large numbers of nominees by unanimous consent before a year-end recess.) Without the unanimous consent route, Majority Leader Schumer would have to find time to file cloture on the DOT nominees one at a time, but working cloture on a nomination requires about three hours of Senate floor time (roll call vote, two hours intervene, another roll call vote), and can’t be done while the Senate is debating bills like the pending defense authorization or the forthcoming budget reconciliation bill.

So, while cloture is the route for Cabinet Secretaries and Deputy Secretaries and members of major regulatory commissions and federal judges, the lower-ranking appointees often have to wait for the old UC route.

That refers to the six USDOT nominees who have been approved in committee and placed on the Calendar:

Biden Administration USDOT Nominees Reported from Committee and Pending on the Executive Calendar. 

  • DOT – Office of the Secretary.  Victoria Wassmer, Chief Financial Officer. Nomination reported 10/20/21 (Cal. No. 469).
  • DOT – Office of the Secretary. Annie Petsonk, Asst. Sec. for Aviation and International Affairs. Nomination reported 8/4/21 (Cal. No. 314).
  • DOT – Office of the Secretary. Mohsin Syed, Asst. Sec. for Government Affairs. Nomination reported 10/20/21 (Cal. No. 468).
  • DOT – Office of the Secretary. Christopher Coes, Asst. Sec. for Transportation Policy. Nomination reported 11/17/21 (Cal. No. 549).
  • DOT – Federal Motor Carrier Safety Admin. Meera Joshi, Administrator. Nomination reported 10/20/21 (Cal. No. 464).
  • DOT – Federal Railroad Administration. Amit Bose, Administrator. Nomination reported 10/20/21 (Cal. No. 465).

Be sure and bookmark ETW’s webpage with all Biden Administration transportation-related nominees and their status.

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