Senate Panel Approves NTSB Nominee Alvin Brown

Vote by Full Senate Awaits Scheduling
Alvin Brown
Alvin Brown speaks at his nomination hearing June 21. (

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The Senate Commerce Committee on July 12 easily advanced the nomination of Alvin Brown to join the National Transportation Safety Board.

Formerly the mayor of Jacksonville, Fla., Brown garnered bipartisan backing from the Democrat-led panel.

In endorsing his nomination, committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) said, “The NTSB board needs hard-working, dedicated individuals who put safety as the top priority. And I believe Mayor Brown would do so on behalf of the American people.”

Brown’s nomination awaits a vote before the full Senate. Democratic leaders have yet to schedule the vote. Responding to the committee about the NTSB’s investigation into this year’s freight train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, Brown said, “When appropriate the NTSB should conduct more field hearings and possibly look for other opportunities to engage impacted communities during the investigative process when field hearings are not feasible.”

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Brown continued, “The field hearing in East Palestine shows that it is important to be transparent and engage with communities.”

The former mayor, with deep expertise in freight policy, is highly recommended by the Biden White House. “Under his leadership, Jacksonville became one of America’s leading cities for innovation and improving quality of life. Brown achieved numerous successes in Jacksonville with bold and collaborative approaches to many modern challenges,” according to background the White House provided.

Brown’s nomination comes as the White House has been met with pushback on several high-profile transportation nominees. Earlier this year, President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was withdrawn from consideration.

The withdrawal of Ann Carlson’s nomination leaves NHTSA without a Senate-confirmed administrator. She has continued to lead the agency in an acting capacity. Republicans on the Commerce Committee, led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), had been critical of her nomination. They explained their opposition in a letter in May: “According to the White House, while serving as NHTSA’s chief counsel, you ‘oversaw the issuance’ last year of NHTSA’s controversial 2024-’26 fuel economy standards.”



“That rulemaking led West Virginia, Montana and multiple other states to allege in a lawsuit that NHTSA exceeded its statutory authority in issuing those standards by impermissibly taking into consideration [electric vehicles]. As chief counsel, you had a responsibility to ensure that NHTSA’s proposed regulations complied with the law,” the Republican senators added. “However, you instead took actions that were consistent with your long career as an environmentalist without traffic safety experience. In fact, as you told colleagues, the Biden administration recruited you to join NHTSA explicitly to advance its ‘whole of government’ climate change agenda.”

Meanwhile, in March, Biden’s pick to lead the Federal Aviation Administration, Phillip A. Washington — the Denver International Airport CEO — also withdrew his nomination. Following his withdrawal, the administration announced updates to FAA’s leadership team. Polly Trottenberg, who was serving as the U.S. Department of Transportation’s deputy secretary, was tapped to perform the duties of acting FAA administrator. She succeeded former acting FAA administrator Billy Nolen, who accepted a private sector job.

“I am pleased to announce a team of experienced leaders to guide the FAA,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement accompanying the announcement June 8. “I am grateful to Billy for his service during one of the most challenging and dynamic times in aviation, and I have full confidence in Polly’s steady hand during the search for a permanent administrator.”

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