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Senate panel confirms slew of Trump transportation nominees

Senate panel confirms slew of Trump transportation nominees
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A Senate panel on Wednesday confirmed a slew of President Trump’s picks to lead various transportation-related agencies, sending their nominations to the floor.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee unanimously approved Raymond Martinez to serve as administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is responsible for regulating the trucking industry and will soon be tasked with rolling out a new rule requiring electronic logging devices for truckers.

The panel also easily endorsed Bruce Landsberg, whom Trump nominated to a five-year term on the National Transportation Safety Board.

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Landsberg faced questions during his confirmation hearing over a string of critical statements that he made regarding the 1,500-hour training requirement for commercial airline pilots.

The rule requires co-pilots to have 1,500 hours of flight training experience under their belt before they can get a license to fly commercial passenger airliners. Congress increased the requirements after the deadly 2009 Colgan Air crash in New York, in which pilot error was to blame.

But regional airlines have long been pushing back against the tougher training standards, which they say are fueling a pilot shortage. There has also been an effort in the Senate to ease the training requirements in a long-term aviation bill

Landsberg, who worked for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, maintained his skepticism over the rule but promised to offer safety recommendations that are independent of industry demands, if confirmed.

Lawmakers on Wednesday narrowly advanced, 14-13, the nomination of Diana Furchtgott-Roth to serve as assistant secretary of research and technology at the Transportation Department.

Furchtgott-Roth, an economist and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, came under fire from Democrats during her confirmation hearing for past statements about sexual assault.

The Senate committee also approved former Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) to serve on Amtrak’s Board of Directors for five years. As a member of Congress, Westmoreland voted to slash funding for Amtrak, but he told Senators during his confirmation hearing that he recognizes the importance of federal funding for the passenger rail system.