Biden's pick to lead FAA withdraws nomination

Former FAA administrator nominee Phillip Washington.
Former FAA administrator nominee Phillip Washington. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
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Phillip Washington, President Biden's nominee to lead the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has withdrawn his nomination following lackluster support in the Senate.

Washington decided to pull his name from contention over the weekend, Reuters first reported on Saturday. Currently the CEO of Denver International Airport, Washington was nominated by Biden to be the new FAA administrator after previously serving as the president's transportation transition head. However, he faced significant criticism from Republicans, who argued that "Washington's slim aviation credentials and his potential legal entanglements" precluded him from leading the FAA, CNN reported.

The Biden administration later confirmed that Washington had pulled his nomination, and White House spokesperson Abdullah Hasan told The New York Times that "an onslaught of unfounded Republican attacks on Mr. Washington's service and experience irresponsibly delayed this process, threatened unnecessary procedural hurdles on the Senate floor, and ultimately have led him to withdraw his nomination today."

The White House has always maintained that Washington had the proper background to run the embattled FAA, with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg tweeting that Washington's "transportation & military experience made him an excellent nominee."

"The partisan attacks and procedural obstruction he has faced are undeserved, but I respect his decision to withdraw and am grateful for his service," Buttigieg added.

The Times noted that while Washington has led the Denver Airport since 2021, "much of his career involved ground transport."

Republicans were united in opposition to Washington, but it originally appeared that Democrats would have still had the votes to push him through the Senate confirmation hearing. However, Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) called off a scheduled vote on his nomination last week, which NBC News noted is a likely sign that Washington no longer had enough Democratic support to move the nomination out of committee.

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