Ted Cruz and Committee Deliver a Big Blow to Biden's FAA Nominee

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Joe Biden has been trying to push Phil Washington for the position of the head of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). But he was delivered a big smackdown from the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on the issue.


Biden has been pushing Washington for positions for two years now. First, as we reported, he proposed Washington for the Transportation Transition team. But that failed because of the issues surrounding his time as the CEO of LA Metro — the agency that runs the region’s trains, subways, and buses — and because Washington was involved in two federal criminal investigations at the time.

Then Washington became the CEO of the Denver International Airport, but there were further issues, as well as allegations of discriminatory and retaliatory practices during his time there. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the ranking member of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, called for a further Senate investigation of those allegations before he was considered for the FAA position.

Then, when the Committee began questioning Washington for the position, he wasn’t able to answer even basic questions about aviation asked by Sen. Ted Budd (R-NC).


Now, if you can’t even answer basic aviation questions, and you have no real experience in the area, why are you being picked to head the FAA? Particularly when there are so many other questions swirling around your administration in the past. You should be picked for the position because you are the most qualified person for that particular job. If you don’t even have any aviation background, how can anyone credibly argue that you’re the best person for this job? Not to mention the other allegations that, to me, would raise pretty big flags as to why he should never be considered.

Cruz explained Biden had an out — the acting administrator Bill Nolen. Nolen has over 33 years of experience and a background in aviation safety. Cruz even put out a video showing the comparison and asking what Biden was doing with this nomination.

Cruz has been pushing hard against this nomination and it was a big win on Wednesday when he announced that the nomination vote had been postponed.


“I am glad to hear that the committee is delaying consideration of the nomination of Phil Washington,” Cruz said. “I think every member of this committee knows that Mr. Washington is not qualified for the position for which he is nominated.” Cruz made the point that the head of the FAA is a “specialized, technical job” that requires someone, by statute, to be learned in aviation and Washington was just not that guy. It raises a lot of questions when the Biden team is so married to someone who is not qualified, particularly when the acting administrator who is there is so well-qualified.

Cruz also echoed RedState’s recent reporting on Washington, noting that:

“Unfortunately, the problems with Mr. Washington’s nomination don’t end with his lack of aviation experience. There are also serious concerns regarding outstanding allegations that Mr. Washington engaged in misconduct during his time at the Los Angeles Metro. He has been named in multiple search warrants and he’s been the subject of multiple whistleblower complaints. One search warrant was executed just last September. It contained allegations that Mr. Washington pushed forward lucrative no-bid contracts to a politically-connected nonprofit to run a sexual harassment hotline that was hardly ever used, and that he did so in order to stay in the good graces of a powerful politician on LA Metro’s board.”


Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the chairwoman of the committee, said that the vote was “moving to a future date pending information that members have been seeking.” That’s often the language of votes that go into oblivion because they know it’s not going to work, although she insisted it would be held sometime in the future. Looks like Washington’s possibility of being approved just went onto the critical list.


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