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March 8, 2019 1:00 PM, EST

EPW Chairman John Barrasso Calls for Confirmation of FHWA Nominee Nicole Nason

John Barrasso Barrasso (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

Sen. John Barrasso, chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, pressed his colleagues to support the confirmation of Nicole Nason to lead the Federal Highway Administration.

Nason’s nomination gained approval in the committee in February. Since then, she has been waiting for consideration in the full Senate. Floor managers have not scheduled a vote on her nomination.

“The Federal Highway Administration will need a strong administrator to work with Congress on the development and implementation of highway infrastructure legislation,” Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said March 6. “It has been now over a month since we reported her from this committee. As with so many of President [Donald] Trump’s nominees, the process is taking too long. We need Ms. Nason confirmed and in office.”

Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, the committee’s ranking Democrat, said during the hearing to consider Nason that her nomination points to the potential for the Trump White House to “work with Congress on reauthorizing our nation’s surface transportation programs, and I hope that Ms. Nason will be a real partner with us in that effort.”

During her hearing in January, Nason told the panel with regard to funding a long-term infrastructure package this year that “all options are on the table right now for the administration.”

John Barrasso

Nason

“Of all the department’s priorities, none is higher than safety. If confirmed as FHWA administrator, safety will be my No. 1 priority,” she said in prepared remarks. “I look forward to the prospect of working together on any infrastructure or reauthorization efforts. I recognize that there are challenges to be addressed, but I am ready to work with the secretary and the Congress to address these important issues as there is not a one-size-fits-all solution.”

Congressional authorizers have yet to unveil a comprehensive measure. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) indicated this month she has received assurances from the White House about a willingness to engage in negotiations on an infrastructure package. Trump recently told several governors at the White House that he would sign an infrastructure deal into law.

Nason led the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, where she helped develop seat belt rules for school buses. Prior to that, she was chief attorney for then-Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta.

The top post at FHWA is vacant. The agency’s current top officer is Deputy Administrator Brandye Hendrickson.

Besides Nason, other nominees await consideration for top positions within DOT. In January, Trump nominated Heidi King to lead the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as well as Diana Furchtgott-Roth to become assistant secretary of transportation, and Thelma Drake to the top post at the Federal Transit Administration.

The deputy administrator at NHTSA, King’s experience includes working as a regulatory policy analyst at the Office of Management and Budget, and serving as chief economist at the House Energy and Commerce Committee. She also spent time with Pfizer Inc. and General Electric, according to the background she provided the Senate.

Furchtgott-Roth was chief economist at the Department of Labor, and served as chief of staff of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers. Additionally, she was deputy executive director of the Domestic Policy Council and junior staff economist at the Council of Economic Advisers, background from the White House indicated.

A former congresswoman, Drake oversaw transportation programs while in Virginia state government.

Nominees, such as Michelle Schultz to become a member of the Surface Transportation Board and Joseph Ryan Gruters, Leon Westmoreland and Rick Dearborn to become members of Amtrak’s board of directors, await consideration in the Senate as well.