Updated Jan 15, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Schumer says he will push to confirm Biden's pick for FAA administrator

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaking in the Capitol in December 2022.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaking in the Capitol in December 2022. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Sunday he will push to confirm President Biden's pick to lead the Federal Aviation Administration, Phillip Washington, after the agency suffered a mass outage to a crucial aviation system last week.

Why it matters: The FAA has been without an administrator since March and Washington, though initially selected in July, has yet to have a confirmation hearing.

  • The Senate Commerce Committee last year bumped a hearing for Washington into the new Congress, and Biden again renominated him at the beginning of January.
  • Republicans on the committee have argued that Washington's nomination should not be approved because they believe he lacks experience in aviation and because he was named in a criminal search in Los Angeles related to his time as CEO of Los Angeles' Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

What they're saying: "There is no doubt about it: it’s time to clear the runway for President Biden’s choice for FAA Administrator, Phil Washington. With recent events, including airline troubles and last week’s tech problem, this agency needs a leader confirmed by the Senate immediately," Schumer said in a statement.

  • "I intend to break this logjam, work to hold a hearing for Mr. Washington, where he can detail his experience and answer questions and then work towards a speedy Senate confirmation."

The big picture: The warrant, carried out by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, indicated that investigators are seeking information about possible favoritism in how the LA Metro awarded contracts.

  • Washington, currently the CEO of Denver International Airport, has denied wrongdoing, telling Bloomberg last September that “all the allegations are false."
  • The FAA said the mass outage to its Notice to Air Missions System — which sends safety and other important notifications to pilots — last week was caused by what it described as a "damaged database file."
  • The FAA temporarily grounded all domestic flight departures in response to the outage.

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