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Nominees for senior-level posts at the U.S. Department of Transportation were approved by the Senate Commerce Committee on May 20.
Senators approved the nominations of Finch Fulton and Diana Furchtgott-Roth to assistant secretary of transportation positions. The panel gave voice vote approval to Fulton, while Furchtgott-Roth’s approval vote was 14-12 along party lines.
Their nominations advanced to the floor of the Senate. The Republican managers who set up floor proceedings have yet to announce votes to determine their confirmations.
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Earlier this year, Fulton told the committee he would focus on assisting with regulatory guidelines for autonomous vehicles.
He told the committee in a prepared statement, “Technology holds great potential to improve the safety, efficiency, and economic impact of our transportation system, but it is not a ‘silver bullet.’ The developments in automated vehicles, drones, hyperloop systems, commercial space launch and reentry, and even data initiatives can dramatically change the way people and goods are moved about the country. Many of these technologies challenge the department in new or more sophisticated ways on methods both to prove and to improve levels of safety, or in determining what mechanisms are best suited in the department for providing oversight.”
Fulton went on, “I believe that we can utilize the public processes and mechanisms that are in place to consider these questions, and include input from all relevant sources, to ensure the long-term health of and to realize the great potential for these new technologies.”
Furchtgott-Roth also has appeared before the Commerce Committee. Responding to a questionnaire from the committee, she outlined her policy vision: “Nothing is more important to the economic health of America than getting the private sector involved in rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure. As an economist with over 30 years of experience, I have studied the provision of infrastructure and transportation extensively.”
In describing challenges at DOT, she declared that they included, “making sure that the quality of the research is as high as possible.”
“This is particularly difficult given the rapidly changing technology, such as autonomous vehicles and drones,” she asserted in the same questionnaire.
Her experience includes stints at the Department of Labor and the president’s Council of Economic Advisers. She contributed to President Donald Trump’s campaign by promoting the president’s agenda in media and editorials. She also went on to assist during the transition.
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“This is particularly true of the economic interests of women. Especially in the details of tax codes, the economic interests of women are neglected. With high marginal tax rates, American women are discouraged from working and given every incentive not to pursue advancement. It would be in their economic interest to choose candidates who proposed to lower their taxes rather than to raise them,” she wrote.
Previously, Furchtgott-Roth was an economist at the American Petroleum Institute, according to background she provided the committee.
Besides the DOT nominees, the panel approved along party lines the nominations of Joseph Ryan Gruters, Leon Westmoreland and Rick Dearborn to serve on Amtrak’s board of directors. Additionally, the nomination of Neil Jacobs to be undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere was approved.
The jurisdiction of the committee includes rail policy and commercial transportation.
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