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Republicans dig in against Biden FAA nominee amid qualification, record concerns

"I think it’s fair to say that you would already be confirmed if there had not been serious, bipartisan questions about your qualifications and fitness for office," Wicker said.

Published: March 1, 2023 3:36pm

Updated: March 1, 2023 3:57pm

Republicans are digging in against President Joe Biden's nominee to fill the vacant post of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) administrator over concerns about his qualifications and an ongoing investigation involving his time in a prior posting.

Phillip Washington currently serves as CEO of Denver International Airport and has held the post for 20 months, The Hill reported. He previously served as head of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority and a corruption investigation involving his tenure remains ongoing.

Though Biden nominated Washington more than seven months ago, his nomination has long been delayed and Republicans on Wednesday indicated they remain skeptical of his viability for the post.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, expressed concerns about Washington's relatively low experience in the industry while also observing that his veteran status would necessitate a congressional waiver, which requires 60 votes in the Senate.

"On five occasions Congress has passed legislative waivers... We would do the same for Mr. Washington if his record merited it, if he had experience in aviation safety. But it doesn’t," he said, per the outlet. The Texas Republican then warned Democrats against advancing his nomination without obtaining a waiver, saying that doing so would place a "legal cloud" over the FAA.

Separate from the Los Angeles investigation, Washington was named in a lawsuit by a former employee of the Denver airport alleging discriminatory practices at the facility. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., indicated that the myriad proceedings involving him had cast considerable doubt on Washington's fitness for the job.

"I think it’s fair to say that you would already be confirmed if there had not been serious, bipartisan questions about your qualifications and fitness for office," he said.

Democrats, however, remain resolutely behind Washington's nomination.

The FAA has not had a Senate-confirmed administrator for nearly a year, a period that has been tumultuous for air travel. The agency itself has recently struggled to address mass flight cancellations that occurred in December as well as a computer glitch that grounded flights in January.

The agency is currently investigating a near-collision between two planes near the Boston airport that occurred in February.

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on Twitter.

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