By Keith Laing
Unlike Babbitt, a former pilot against whom the drunken driving charges were later dropped, Huerta did not work in the aviation industry prior to his arrival at the FAA.
Huerta told the Senate committee Thursday that he was no stranger to the world of transportation.
"I have spent my entire career in transportation with rewarding professional experiences in both the public and private sectors," he said.
"I held senior policy positions at the U.S. Department of Transportation under President Clinton," he continued. "There, I gained valuable insight into the day-to-day operations of many federal agencies, including the FAA.
"Later, I was a managing director for transportation with the Salt Lake Olympic Committee. This experience taught me that an immovable deadline can be extremely powerful in motivating and in focusing a team toward a common objective."
Huerta found support Thursday among the members of the Senate Transportation Committee on both sides of the political spectrum.
"It's hard to find a group of 535 people who fly more or think they're experts in travel than members of Congress," Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) told Huerta as he noted lawmakers' praise for the FAA chief's early tenure at the agency.
"You already have first-hand knowledge of the challenges confronting the FAA and its operations, and you have received high marks for your performance," the panel's chairman, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), added in his opening statement.
If Huerta's confirmation is approved by the Senate committee on Thursday, it will next go to the full upper chamber for approval.