Biden’s pick to head FAA drops name from nomination: reports

President Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Federal Aviation Administration is withdrawing his name from the running weeks after Republican lawmakers ruled him unqualified to lead the agency, according to reports.

Philip Washington decided to withdraw his name from consideration because of “an onslaught of baseless Republican attacks” on his service and experience, a White House official told CNN on Saturday.

Washington was first nominated to be FAA Administrator by Biden eight months ago, but has faced criticism from GOP members of Congress for his lack of aviation experience and potential legal entanglements.

The Biden administration respects Washington’s decision to withdraw his name from consideration, officials with knowledge of the decision told the agency.

Philip Washington
Washington withdrew his name because of “an onslaught of baseless Republican attacks” on his experience, a White House official told CNN.
CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee was scheduled to vote on Washington’s nomination Wednesday, but that vote was postponed because “they don’t have the votes to refer him out of committee,” a Republican aide told the news outlet.

Washington, the current CEO of Denver International Airport, led the Biden-Harris transition team for the Department of Transportation. He also held leadership roles in municipal transit organizations in Denver and Los Angeles and served in the military for 24 years.

He had no aviation experience before taking the position at the Denver airport in 2021.

Philip Washington
Washington testifies during her confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill on March 1.
AFP via Getty Images

During his first confirmation hearing earlier this month, Washington took heat from Republicans who attacked his experience.

“Looking at your record, I see a record where you have bus experience. You have experience with trains,” said Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, referring to Washington’s jobs in Denver and Los Angeles.

The FAA has come under fire since flights nationwide ground to a halt for hours in January — the first since Sept. 11 — due to an outage of a system that provides safety and other information to pilots.

Several recent near misses involving aircraft and staff shortages that led to travel disruptions have also plagued the service.