The Senate Commerce Committee yesterday gave a warm reception to the White House’s newest nomination to the National Transportation Safety Board, Jennifer Homendy, and is expected clear the nomination next week for full Senate action. The White House last month announced the intent to nominate Homendy to fulfill the remainder of a vacated term that expires on Dec. 31, 2019. Homendy has a background in transportation safety, having served as the Democratic staff director of the House railroads, pipelines, and hazardous materials subcommittee since 2004. She also has served as a legislative representative for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and worked for the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, the American Iron and Steel Institute, and the National Federation of Independent Business.
Senate Commerce Committee chairman John Thune (R-South Dakota) called Homendy well qualified for the role, saying her “substantial experience in surface transportation will be valuable to the NTSB’s efforts” and adding he will seek swift confirmation. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Florida), the ranking Democrat on the committee, similarly expressed backing for the nomination, and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) introduced her during her confirmation hearing yesterday, saying, “I am very proud of the safety expertise and background you will bring to the Safety Board.”
Homendy acknowledged that she has spent the past 14 years on rail and pipeline safety, and added she “is very eager to learn about aviation safety.” She stressed the importance of public service, as well as the role the NTSB plays in saving lives. She added the agency provides “hope to grieving families that something positive will come from their tragic loss. I understand their need for answers.”
When questioned by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) on general aviation pilots' rights and processes during enforcement appeals, Homendy responded that she would be “very happy” to work with his office on those concerns. She added that she has never rubber stamped anything, and, “I will approach every accident investigation that comes before the Board objectively looking at all sides of the issue.”
The Commerce Committee has scheduled consideration of a slate of nominations, including Homendy, on May 22. If confirmed she would join chairman Robert Sumwalt and members Earl Weener and Bella Dinh-Zarr on the board. Another nomination to the Board, that of former AOPA Air Safety Institute president Bruce Landsberg, has been pending in the Senate since fall.