Schumer says he will push to confirm Biden's pick for FAA administrator
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.
Go deeper: FAA investigating near-miss between two airplanes at JFK airport