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August 4, 2021 4:45 PM, EDT

US Senate Committee Approves NTSB Nominee, Commerce Legislation

Homendy Would Lead Transportation Safety Agency
Jennifer Homendy Jennifer Homendy has served on the National Transportation Safety Board since 2018. (Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg News)

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President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead a key federal transportation investigatory unit was easily approved by a U.S. Senate panel Aug. 4.

During a Commerce Committee legislative hearing prior to this month’s congressional recess, Jennifer Homendy’s nomination to become chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board garnered voice vote approval.

Homendy’s nomination advances to the floor of the chamber for consideration. Senate managers from the Democratic caucus have yet to schedule a vote on her nomination.

The Homendy File

Jennifer Homendy's career résumé:

• 2018-present: National Transportation Safety Board

• 2004-2018: Democratic staff director, Committee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials

•  1999-2004: Legislatislative representative, International Brotherhood of Teamsters

• 1997-1999: Legislative representative, Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO

• 1996-1997: Manager, Government Relations, American Iron and Steel Institute

Source: LinkedIn

Homendy has served as an NTSB member since 2018. She told senators during a confirmation hearing she would aim to improve the safety agency’s management systems.

“I am a strong advocate for safety, and I have spent nearly two decades supporting the critical safety mission of the National Transportation Safety Board to investigate crashes in all modes of transportation, determine the probable causes, and issue safety recommendations aimed at preventing future tragedies and injuries and saving lives,” she told the panel.

Homendy also emphasized her dedication to improving employee and stakeholder engagement post-pandemic.

“COVID-19 has presented challenges for NTSB and our workforce, just like other federal agencies. Many of our employees have children or other loved ones who are now at home with no school, summer camps or other care options available to them,” she said. “Many others care for loved ones that have health conditions that make them vulnerable to complications if they are exposed to COVID[-19], and some of our workers have health conditions which put them into high-risk categories.

“When our workforce is phased back into the office, we have to make sure we are addressing their needs and challenges that they will continue to face.”

Homendy Questionnaire by Transport Topics on Scribd

According to background information provided by the White House, Homendy previously held positions with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the AFL-CIO and the American Iron and Steel Institute.

“She has more than 25 years of experience in transportation safety, including nearly two decades supporting the critical safety mission of the NTSB,” per the White House.

Background about her on the agency’s website noted that in 2017 and 2018 she led a multimodal review of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s drug and alcohol testing program.

If confirmed, Homendy would succeed NTSB acting Chairman Bruce Landsberg. NTSB is tasked with investigating high-profile transportation accidents. Additionally, it publishes a list of safety recommendations meant for regulators and policymakers.

Sen. Ben Cardin

Cardin

In other business, the Senate committee approved legislation that would expand the Minority Business Development Agency at the Department of Commerce. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the measure’s lead sponsor, called it “one of our best tools to address the historic barriers to small business ownership that Black, Latino, Asian and Indigenous entrepreneurs face.”

“Congress must make [Minority Business Development Agency] permanent and give the agency the resources necessary to support minority entrepreneurs who face pervasive and historic barriers to business ownership,” Cardin said.

Maria Cantwell

Cantwell

“The Minority Business Development Agency helps entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses,” added committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.). Relatedly, during the Biden administration, the committee’s leadership has urged Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to enhance cybersecurity and privacy operations meant to safeguard the nation’s infrastructure and mobility networks.

Chairwoman Cantwell and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), the panel’s ranking member, wrote to the secretary recently: “Cybersecurity threats are growing and evolving, so the federal response must do so as well. To ensure the safety and security of the American people and economy, [Department of Commerce] and [National Institute of Standards and Technology] must be part of the solution.”

The Biden White House has issued directives and guidance designed to boost multi-agency cybersecurity.

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