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President Joe Biden’s pick to oversee federal trucking regulations is awaiting a confirmation vote in the U.S. Senate.
The nomination of Robin Hutcheson to lead the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is expected to be considered in the chamber prior to the congressional August recess.
Aides with familiarity of the confirmation process recently told Transport Topics the FMCSA nominee is among the officials likely to receive a vote before senators recess for the summer. The chamber’s Democratic leaders are expected to schedule a legislative work period for the week of Aug. 8.
In June, the Senate Commerce Committee approved Hutcheson’s nomination to lead the agency. Currently FMCSA’s acting leader, Hutcheson told senators, if confirmed, she intends to pursue myriad safety initiatives, assist with alleviating supply chain bottlenecks, and review new technological advancements in the trucking industry.
Hutcheson also took time to acknowledge the contributions of truckers, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Now, more than ever, Americans are acutely tuned in to how our goods get to our homes — from the flour for the bread we eat, the clothes we wear, the bed we sleep in — we all have a better understanding that it probably came on a truck,” she said.
“People, in this case, drivers, are the most important part of the industry,” she continued. “It is a difficult job, and men and women have been working long hours to literally keep our economy rolling in the face of unprecedented challenges.”
In her response to a questionnaire provided by the Commerce Committee, Hutcheson emphasized workforce concerns in the trucking sector. American Trucking Associations has determined the industry is short about 80,000 commercial drivers.
“The vulnerabilities of the supply chain have highlighted the need for a stable and recognized commercial motor vehicle workforce,” she affirmed. “Recruitment and retention continue to be a challenge that will be met with a deeper understanding of the barriers to quality work environment and compensation, including ensuring the profession is welcoming to women and people of color.”
Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) praised the nominee’s record on transportation safety. “Strong federal leadership is needed as the nation faces a tragic rise in highway fatalities, including a dramatic increase in fatal crashes involving large trucks,” said Cantwell.
Hutcheson served as the director of public works in Minneapolis where she oversaw a division of 1,100 individuals. Prior to that, she was the transportation director at Salt Lake City, per her background from the White House.
David Pekoske by C-SPAN2
Stakeholders, such as ATA, are calling on senators to confirm Hutcheson. “Since her appointment as acting administrator in January, Ms. Hutcheson has worked closely with the trucking industry to confront supply chain, workforce and safety challenges, while pressing forward with the implementation of vital programs included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” said ATA President Chris Spear, noting the $1 trillion infrastructure law.
“Ms. Hutcheson’s response to the challenges facing our industry has been timely and effective,” Spear added. “We are confident she will bring that same focus to her role as the administrator of the FMCSA.”
David Pekoske, nominated to lead the Transportation Security Administration, is another high-profile transportation official awaiting a confirmation vote in the Senate.
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