After twisting in the Senate winds for nine months, President Biden's nominee to head the Federal Aviation Administration has given up on the job. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg tweeted Saturday night that Phil Washington has withdrawn, Politico reports. "The FAA needs a confirmed Administrator, and Phil Washington's transportation & military experience made him an excellent nominee," Buttigieg posted. "The partisan attacks and procedural obstruction he has faced are undeserved." Republican senators, mostly, said Washington didn't have the aviation experience to run the FAA, per the New York Times, and brought up a corruption investigation in Los Angeles, where he once worked.
Washington has less than two years' experience in aviation, all in his current job as chief executive of the Denver airport, after working for transit agencies. The Senate committee handling Washington's nomination delayed a vote on it last week; two Democratic members hadn't committed to voting yes, and the party has only a one-vote majority on the panel. The FAA, which is dealing with a crisis of public confidence after large-scale flight cancellations and close calls at airports, hasn't had a permanent leader for a year, per Axios. The agency will be leaderless for months more while the Biden administration finds a candidate with a better chance of surviving the Senate confirmation process. (Read more Federal Aviation Administration stories.)