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The Senate Commerce Committee has advanced two nominees for leadership posts at agencies that regulate transportation.
The committee July 10 easily advanced by voice-vote approval the nomination of Michelle Schultz for a seat on the Surface Transportation Board. Schultz had been renominated for the post this year after her nomination was not considered in the previous congressional session. Last year, Senate Republican leaders did not during the legislative calendar vote on several top transportation nominees, including Schultz.
She includes among her qualifications to serve on the board her tenure as deputy general counsel at the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, the country’s sixth-largest provider of public transportation. She was also a law clerk for the Superior Court of Pennsylvania and the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
In response to a questionnaire the Commerce Committee provides nominees, Schultz stressed the importance of rail networks to the nation’s economy. “For certain areas across the country, shortline and regional railroads are the only way shippers can access the national freight rail network. Shortline railroads serve a vital role to the U.S. freight rail network.”
She also stressed the role STB plays in this. “As the economic regulator of the rail industry, the Surface Transportation Board has discretion to tailor its regulatory activities to meet the nation’s changing transportation needs. This discretion would include taking into account the integral role that shortline railroads play in the national freight network.”
Congress created the Surface Transportation Board in 1996 to serve as a regulatory agency for railroad rate and service matters.
Besides Schultz, the committee also approved the Trump administration’s nominee to lead the Federal Aviation Administration, Stephen Dickson, by a vote of 14 to 12, along with promotions at the Coast Guard.
“The committee has spent the past two months reviewing any and all information regarding Stephen Dickson’s nomination, and after concluding our due diligence, the committee has reported him favorably,” committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said after the votes. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to confirm Mr. Dickson to this critically important role at the FAA.”
The committee’s action moved all of the nominees to the Senate floor for consideration. The chamber’s Republican leadership has not scheduled votes on the nominations.