• Independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema, the former Arizona Democrat who angered progressives by refusing to back Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act, has scored another victory. This time around, the left-leaning legislator refused to back the Biden's Federal Aviation Administration director nominee, forcing Phillip Washington to withdraw his candidacy.
  • The FAA director position has been vacant since March of 2022, with Billy Nolen filling in as acting director since. Curiously, despite Nolen’s 33 years of experience in the airline industry, Biden plowed ahead with his plans to install a 24-year Army veteran instead.
  • Sinema appears to share Republicans’ concerns about Washington. Republican senators spoke out against the nomination, with Texas Senator Ted Cruz leading the fight, arguing that Washington doesn’t have the experience in aviation safety required to do the job.
  • “With all respect, Mr. Washington, it gives no comfort to the flying public that their pilot might be a transgendered witch but doesn’t actually know how to prevent the plane from crashing into the ground and killing them. I believe your record is woefully lacking,” Senator Cruz said earlier in March during a hearing on Washington’s nomination.
Why It Matters
  • Sinema's opposition shows that concern over Washington’s planned appointment isn’t strictly a partisan matter. Washington’s withdrawal is just the latest in a string of Biden nominees that have made headlines for not being qualified for the jobs Biden wanted them to take.
  • In February, Biden’s nominee for United States District Judge for the Southern District of California, Marian F. Gaston, refused to answer if she supports maintaining the Sex Offender Registry.
  • In March, Washington also couldn’t answer a single answer about certain aviation topics during a hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee.