Senate Postpones Action on FAA Administrator
A Senate hearing on the nomination of acting FAA Administrator Robert Sturgell to become the next permanent head of the agency was canceled at the last minute on December 20. Committee aides blamed Senate fatigue and the approaching holidays for the confirmation delay. Others charged that it was politics and Congress’s penchant for micromanaging the FAA. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) put a “hold” on the nomination until he is satisfied with the agency’s response to questions raised about the Northeast airspace redesign plan. He and Reps. Rob Andrews (D-N.J.) and Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) complained at a joint news conference that the FAA had reneged on public statements that it would not activate new routes for airplanes taking off from Philadelphia and Newark Airports until this summer. But Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), ranking minority member of the House Transportation Committee, charged the delay was an attempt by Democrats to appease special interests. Sturgell, who was deputy administrator under former FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, was named acting Administrator of the agency in October. Menendez said the nomination now won’t be considered until late this month at the earliest. In August, general aviation interests and the airlines sent a joint letter to President Bush urging him to appoint someone quickly to run the FAA following Blakey’s departure.