Biden's pick to lead the FAA pulled by Republicans

Biden's pick to lead the FAA pulled by Republicans

Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Saturday that U.S. President Joe Biden's nominee to head the Federal Aviation Administration FAA is withdrawing his nomination after Republican criticism that he was not qualified to serve as the top aviation regulator.

In the last year, Biden nominated Denver International Airport CEO Phil Washington to serve as FAA administrator.

The Senate Commerce Committee voted on his nomination earlier this week after a series of close-call safety incidents and a series of close-call safety incidents.

One White House official said that an onslaught of unfounded Republican attacks on Mr Washington's service and experience irresponsibly delayed the process, threatened unnecessary procedural hurdles on the Senate floor, and eventually led him to withdraw his nomination today. Senator Ted Cruz, a ranking Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, said Washington, who retired from the U.S. Army in July 2000, must have a waiver from rules requiring civilian leadership to head the FAA. The Transportation Department's general counsel said in a letter this month that Washington was fully qualified and did not need a waiver.

Sources told Reuters that Republicans had threatened to use parliamentary tactics to object to Washington's lack of a waiver.

The White House official said politics must not hold up confirming an Administrator to lead the FAA, and we will move quickly to nominate a new candidate for the FAA administrator. The FAA has had a number of safety issues.

In January, the FAA halted all departing passenger airline flights for nearly two hours because of a pilot messaging database outage, the first nationwide ground stop of its kind since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

A safety alert was issued on Wednesday by the FAA to airlines, pilots and others about the need for continued vigilance and attention to mitigation of safety risks after a series of high-profile near collisions.

Six serious runway incursions have occurred since January that prompted the agency to convene a safety summit last week.

Some industry officials think that the White House might name FAA Administrator Billy Nolen as a new nominee. Nolen, who was named head of the FAA's aviation safety office since April 2022, has received support from many Republicans in Congress, and has been the acting FAA administrator since April 2022.

Washington had received support from a wide range of groups, including a number of aviation unions and a group of family members killed in a 2019 fatal Boeing 737 MAX crash.

The FAA has been without a permanent administrator for almost a year.