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Senate committee set to vote on Biden’s embattled FAA nominee

CNN  — 

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation is scheduled to vote on President Joe Biden’s choose to steer the Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday morning – marking a consequential second for the embattled nominee and the company, which is making an attempt to deal with a slew of main challenges.

Phil Washington, whose nomination was first introduced by Biden some eight months in the past, has confronted continued resistance from Republican lawmakers over points which have emerged since he was nominated final summer season, urgent him over quite a lot of issues, together with his slim aviation-related credentials.

Forward of Wednesday’s committee vote, a gentle stream of teams lined up for and towards Washington.

Aviation employee unions, former transportation secretaries on each side of the aisle, Denver-based Frontier Airways and the relations of crash victims who died on Ethiopian Air Flight 302 have all endorsed Washington within the lead as much as Wednesday’s vote.

Former Division of Transportation officers who served on the company through the Trump administration signed onto a letter to the president expressing their opposition to Washington’s affirmation.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, and Missouri Rep. Sam Graves, the chairman of the Home Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, have each expressed their opposition to Washington’s nomination.

The FAA has been working with out a everlasting administrator for a 12 months.

In that point, the company has contended with a number of issues which have plagued vacationers and the airline trade, similar to current near-collisions involving airliners, essential staffing shortages and malfunctions of ageing know-how which have trigger main air journey disruption.

Whereas Democrats largely appeared supportive throughout Washington’s affirmation listening to earlier this month, he was grilled by Republican senators on points which have emerged since he was named as a potential administrator final summer season.

Washington, the present CEO of the Denver Worldwide Airport, has held management roles at municipal transit organizations, together with in Denver and Los Angeles, centered on bus and rail traces. He additionally led the Biden-Harris transition workforce for the Division of Transportation. Previous to his work in transportation, Washington served within the army for 24 years.

Whereas Washington has labored in transportation-related positions since 2000, he had no expertise within the aviation trade previous to becoming a member of the Denver airport in 2021 – a significant concern amongst committee members.

Since being nominated, Washington had additionally confronted questions on being named in a search warrant issued as a part of a political corruption investigation in Los Angeles, together with different potential authorized entanglements. Republicans have additionally questioned whether or not Washington, an Military veteran who left the army in 2000 after greater than 20 years of service, can be statutorily thought-about a civilian – a requirement with the intention to function the FAA chief.

If he’s not thought-about a civilian, he would wish a waiver from Congress allowing him to steer the company. And Republicans in each the Home and the Senate don’t assist granting Washington a waiver.

CNN’s Greg Wallace contributed to this report.

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