March 18, 2021 12:30 PM, EDT

Senate Commerce Committee Schedules Vote for Polly Trottenberg

Polly TrottenbergPolly Trottenberg speaks at an event on the future of transportation in 2016. (Chris Goodney/Bloomberg News)

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The nomination of Polly Trottenberg to become deputy secretary at the U.S. Department of Transportation will be considered by a Senate panel this month.

The Senate Commerce Committee announced it had scheduled a vote on Trottenberg’s nomination for March 24. If approved by the panel, her nomination would advance to the full chamber for consideration as Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s deputy.

During her confirmation hearing earlier this month, Trottenberg told senators she would dedicate her efforts primarily at helping to achieve President Joe Biden’s infrastructure policy agenda.

Pete Buttigieg


The White House has signaled it would unveil an infrastructure policy framework in the coming weeks. A focus on climate change, renewable energy, equity and safety are expected to anchor most of the president’s multitrillion-dollar proposal.

“The Department of Transportation’s highest priority will always be safety, across all modes, including aviation, roadways, mass transit, rail, waterways and pipelines. In response to the pandemic, the Biden administration has made the safety of the traveling public and the transportation workforce a top goal,” the nominee told senators March 3.

Pressed on funding details pertaining to Biden’s plans for a transformative infrastructure measure, Trottenberg stopped short of revealing specifics. Responding to senior Republicans on the panel questioning her about funding details, she said, “I’m not in the department yet, so I haven’t been part of, sort of, those intimate discussions but I certainly know that the administration, obviously their big immediate focus has been COVID[-19] relief and the reconciliation [budget] bill.”

At the confirmation hearing, committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) mostly praised Trottenberg for her qualifications. As she put it, “The deputy secretary is the No. 2 spot at the Department of Transportation and plays a critical role in ensuring the safety and security of our nation’s transportation system. Ms. Trottenberg is eminently qualified for this role, after 30 years of transportation expertise already under her belt.”

Prior to her tenure in New York City, Trottenberg served as a senior USDOT official during the Obama administration.

Besides Trottenberg, senators also aim to consider nominees for top posts in the Biden administration as early as this month.

Marty Walsh

Marty Walsh has been nominated to become secretary at the Department of Labor. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)

The Democratic leadership in the Senate has placed on its agenda the nomination of Marty Walsh to become secretary at the Department of Labor,. The Senate on March 18 voted 50-49 to confirm Xavier Becerra for the chief role at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Most recently, the chamber confirmed Katherine Tai to become U.S. Trade Representative by a vote of 98-0.

“As U.S. Trade Representative, Ms. Tai will play a crucial role in enforcing existing trade deals and making sure that American workers, businesses and researchers can compete on a level playing field,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). “She will be an essential player in restoring America’s credibility with our trading partners and promoting international cooperation to tackle some of the world’s biggest problems, from the global pandemic to climate change.”

Senators also confirmed Rep. Deb Haaland by a vote of 51-40 to lead the Interior Department. A former member of Congress, Haaland is the first Native American to be confirmed for a Cabinet post.

Schumer remarked, “In elevating Rep. Haaland to lead the Department of Interior, we reset the relationship between the federal government and tribal nations to one of cooperation, mutual respect, and trust.”

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