Trump Re-Nominates Nine Transportation Nominees

January 18, 2019

On January 16, President Trump sent the Senate scores of nominations (full list here) that he had earlier made in the previous Congress and which were still pending in committee or on the Executive Calendar when that Congress ended at noon on January 3. At the end of a Congress, all nominations that have not been confirmed are returned to the President.

Nine of the re-nominations are transportation-related:

  • Thelma Drake to be Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration.
  • Heidi King to be Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • Diana Furchtgott-Roth to be Assistant Secretary of Transportation for Research and Technology.
  • Rick Dearborn, Joseph Gruters, and Lynn Westmoreland to be members of the Amtrak Board of Directors.
  • Alan Cobb and William McDermott to be member of the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.
  • Michelle Schultz to be a member of the Surface Transportation Board.

Senator tradition means that Schultz, a Republican, will have to wait for the President to nominate a Democrat for the other STB vacancy so that they can be confirmed at the same time. And the MWAA Board is low-profile enough that they don’t even have to go through committee if the White House sends enough information on paper, which they did not do in time for McDermott (see the Privileged Nominations section of last Congress’s final Executive Calendar).

But the other nominees all face the same problems that they faced last year – in each case, at least one Senator is blocking the unanimous consent that is necessary to expedite consideration of the nomination, and in the absence of “UC,” the only way to confirm a nominee is the cumbersome cloture process, which (in the post-nuclear age) only requires a bare majority but which usually takes about 30 hours of scarce Senate floor time.

Majority Leader McConnell had to ration floor time last year, and has been reluctant to spend 30 hours apiece confirming non-judicial appointees below the Deputy Secretary level unless they are required to get a Republican majority on a regulatory commission. Perhaps Drake, or King, or Furchtgott-Roth will get lucky and the Senate will have a slow week and they can get confirmed through cloture. Or perhaps whatever Democrats have holds on their nominations can be convinced to withdraw those holds in exchange for other assurances. But it is also quite possible that the above nominees will remain pending in the Senate for quite a long time.

Reminder: bookmark Eno’s transportation nomination status page to check back on these and other nominees in the future.

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