Updated: Phillip Washington withdrew his nomination from consideration two days after this article was published.
Phillip Washington won’t be packing his bags any time soon to depart his job as chief of DIA to head up Joe Biden’s flailing FAA.
Washington’s nomination to head the troubled aviation admiration has faced more delays than a Southwest flight at Christmas.
Faced with opposition that has stalled his confirmation since last summer, the “CANCELLED” sign is beginning to flicker on the big board.
Democrats control the Senate Commerce Committee tasked with final approval of Washington’s bona fides before it moves to the full Senate.
The Democrat committee chair on Wednesday indefinitely delayed the vote as Democrat Sen. Jon Tester of Montana and Democrat-turned-independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona wavered in their support.
“I don’t know that we’re even (going to) vote on him, so I didn’t even have to take a stand,” Tester told reporters after the committee meeting.
Therefore, the media is blaming Republicans for Washington’s failure to launch.
The FAA administrator is not a cabinet-level job, but Republicans have turned the nomination into a high-profile contest with Biden and Senate Democrats.
Washington ran transit agencies in Denver and Los Angeles, but his only aviation-related experience has come since taking the top job at the Denver airport in July 2021. Washington has strong ties to the administration — he led the incoming Biden administration’s transition team for the Transportation Department, which includes the FAA.
After seeing how horribly the FAA is faring under Washington’s transitioned team with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, no wonder Democrats aren’t in a rush to back his nomination.
And yet, the failure by Colorado’s Democrat Senators to get their hometown nominee past the committee to the Democrat-controlled Senate for consideration speaks volumes about their standing among their peers.
🚨 FAA UPDATE 🚨 pic.twitter.com/MWcxet9CKj
— Senator John Hickenlooper (@SenatorHick) March 17, 2023
U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper reeked of desperation in a Denver Post opinion piece he penned just days before the committee was scheduled to consider the nomination, insisting the only obstacle Washington faced was a bureaucratic hang-up.
But Washington’s nomination was fraught with more serious issues than that, including a lawsuit alleging discriminatory and retaliatory practices at DIA that Washington failed to disclose to Senators.
Sen. Ted Cruz asked the Senate panel to pause consideration earlier this month until lawmakers could examine the lawsuit’s accusations by DIA’s parking director, who is Hispanic.
“It’s bad enough that Mr. Washington has zero aviation safety experience and is entangled in an ongoing, unresolved criminal probe of public corruption at LA Metro,” Cruz said.
Neither Hickenlooper nor U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet had anything to say after Washington’s nomination was indefinitely postponed, most likely pending a decision by either Biden or Washington to withdraw the nomination from consideration.