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Denver International Airport CEO Phil Washington issues statement after withdrawing nomination to lead FAA

Phil Washington
Posted at 9:18 AM, Mar 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-27 11:18:34-04

DENVER — Denver International Airport CEO Phillip Washington, President Joe Biden’s choice to run the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), withdrew his nomination for the position on Saturday and issued a statement about his reasoning on Monday morning.

In his statement, Washington said while he feels confident that he could lead the FAA, he did not see "a respectful, civil, and viable path forward to Senate confirmation." He blamed "cheap and unfounded" partisan attacks, the statement reads. He added that he withdrew for the good of the administration and the country.

Washington previously ran two transit agencies — including one in Denver — and currently works as CEO of the Denver airport, where he has been for less than two years.

On Saturday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg confirmed Washington’s withdrawal in a tweet, calling him “an excellent nominee” and blaming undeserved and partisan attacks.

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The Associated Press reported that Republicans were united in opposition to Washington, calling him unqualified because of limited aviation experience. Democrats and allied independents still might have pushed the nomination through, but key senators on their side balked at supporting Biden’s pick.

Washington’s fate appeared settled when Senate Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., abruptly called off a scheduled vote last Wednesday — a sign that she lacked enough votes to move the nomination out of committee, the AP report continued. She said some senators wanted more information about Washington.

In full, Washington's statement from Monday morning reads:

Last Friday, I submitted a letter to the President withdrawing my name from consideration to lead as Administrator for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This was a decision that I did not make lightly. I have successfully led three large public organizations and proudly served our country in military uniform as a Command Sergeant Major (E-9) in the U.S. Army and as a disabled veteran.

Though I am confident in my ability to lead the FAA, as a transformative leader, I no longer saw a respectful, civil, and viable path forward to Senate confirmation. I faced cheap and unfounded partisan attacks and procedural obstruction with regard to my military career that would have further lengthened the already delayed confirmation process. With that said, I decided that for the good of the FAA and the country, I would withdraw my name from consideration. I wanted to put the country first and in doing so, I stepped aside to allow for the Administration and the Committee to do the same by accelerating the confirmation of a permanent leader.

I remain honored and humbled by President Biden's decision to nominate me for this position. I am also grateful for the support I received from Senator Maria Cantwell, as Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Senators Hickenlooper and Bennet from my home state here in Colorado, U.S. Transportation Secretary Buttigieg, my mayor, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, and a cross-section of stakeholders across the aviation community.

I am truly grateful for the overwhelming support and encouragement I have received from around the country and the world. I also want to thank and acknowledge all of the Senate Committee members for their time and consideration.

The FAA has not had a Senate-confirmed administrator since March of 2022.

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