Senate Confirms Senior USDOT Officials

U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters
U.S. Department of Transportation

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Nominees to fill senior roles at the U.S. Department of Transportation recently were confirmed by the Senate.

John Putnam was approved to serve as general counsel, and Vicky Wassmer was approved as chief financial officer.

The Senate also voted 75-22 this month to confirm retired Rear Admiral Ann Phillips to lead the Maritime Administration.


John Putnam and Vicky Wassmer (Department of Transportation)

Putnam, who had been serving as deputy general counsel, told senators the recently enacted $1 trillion infrastructure law will “strengthen supply chains and enhance resilience by making necessary investments in our ports, airports, rail and highways.”

Wassmer indicated a priority for the department is managing COVID-19 emergency relief funds.

Phillips told senators her priorities for the agency consist of “promoting a strong U.S. Merchant Marine and continuing the recapitalization of the strategic sealift fleet, and continuing support for a competitive, safe and modern maritime industry that is capable of meeting strategic sealift support requirements and prepared to succeed in a contested environment.”



Still awaiting consideration before the Senate are Steven Cliff to lead the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Christopher Coes to fill the role of assistant secretary of transportation at USDOT and Carol Petsonk to be assistant secretary for aviation and international affairs at USDOT.
Senate floor managers have not announced a vote on the committee-backed nominees.

The Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees freight policy, has yet to schedule a hearing for Robin Hutcheson, nominated to become administrator at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. That agency regulates the trucking industry.

President Joe Biden picked Hutcheson in April to lead FMCSA. The former deputy assistant secretary for safety policy at USDOT, she currently serves as FMCSA’s acting administrator.

Reacting to Hutcheson’s nomination, American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear said: “She has deep experience in transportation administration, having previously served as director of public works for the City of Minneapolis and transportation director for Salt Lake City, which makes her well qualified and prepared for this vital role. Her commitment to working with our industry to improve safety is unwavering.”

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