The Senate on Monday confirmed President Trump’s pick for the No. 3 spot at the Department of Transportation (DOT), despite protests from Democrats representing northeastern states who want the White House to fund rail-and-tunnel projects in their region.
In a 90-7 vote, senators approved the nomination of Derek Kan, a general manager for Lyft, to be undersecretary of transportation for policy at the DOT.
Kan, who has been a member of Amtrak’s board, previously served as a policy adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHoyer signals House vote on bill to 'remove' debt limit threat Biden signs bill to raise debt ceiling On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan MORE (R-Ky.). McConnell is married to Transportation Secretary Elaine ChaoElaine ChaoSaluting FOIA on its birthday House passes bill to strengthen authority of federal watchdogs Biden at Sen. John Warner's funeral: He 'gave me confidence' MORE.
Kan was also a presidential management fellow at the Office of Management and Budget.
Trump tapped Kan for the DOT job back in April, but his nomination was held up by a handful of Democrats who demanded assurances from the administration that it will fund the multibillion-dollar Gateway Program, which is overseeing several critical transportation projects in the Northeast Corridor.
The Gateway Program, a top priority for lawmakers in the northeast, would construct a tunnel under the Hudson River and add a platform and station capacity in New York City's Penn Station.
The connection between New Jersey and Penn Station — which moves hundreds of thousands of passengers daily — consists of a pair of 105-year-old tunnels that were in desperate need of repair even before they received additional damage during Superstorm Sandy. The tunnels are expected to be closed in the next decade for at least a year for repairs.
But closing the existing tunnels without the creation of additional tracks would reduce system capacity by 75 percent, which could cause paralyzing traffic jams and harm the regional economy.
New York, New Jersey, Amtrak and the Obama administration had all agreed to help fund the tunnel project.
But supporters of the program have questioned the Trump administration’s commitment to the projects. The DOT withdrew from the program’s board of trustees this summer, and Trump proposed limiting funding for a grant program in a way that would have excluded Gateway.