“Our continuing mission” claims the Federal Aviation Administration “is to provide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world.” Biden’s pick to head the FAA was U.S. Army veteran Phillip Washington, who proclaimed that safety would be his top priority. People who fly, and those who don’t, have room reason for doubt.
As National Public Radio notes, Washington was first nominated in early July, 2022, but “failed to get a hearing even though Democrats controlled the Senate.” Biden re-nominated Washington in January, giving him plenty of time to study for a March 1 hearing, where he would face some basic questions.
“Mr. Washington, can you quickly tell me what kind of airspace requires an ADS-B transponder,” said Sen. Ted Budd.
“Not sure I can answer that question right now,” said Washington. Budd said the answer was a “pretty important part” of the FAA job, but quickly moved on.
“What are the six types of special-use airspace that protect this national security that appear on FAA charts?”
“Sorry Senator,” Washington said. “I cannot answer that question.” Budd duly advanced another.
“What are the operational limitations of a pilot flying under basic med?”
“Senator I’m not a pilot so . . .”
“Obviously you’d oversee the Federal Aviation Administration,” countered Budd, “so any idea what any of those restrictions are under basic med?”
“Well, some of the restrictions, I think, would be high blood pressure.”
As Sen. Budd explained, the restrictions had to do with the number of passengers per airplane, weight, altitude, and speed. So “it doesn’t have anything to do with blood pressure,” and Budd pressed on.
“Can you tell me what causes an aircraft to spin or to stall?”
“Again senator I’m not a pilot,” Washington responded. Budd then wondered if the Biden nominee knew “the three certifications the FAA requires as part of the manufacturing process?”
“Again what I would say, one of my first priorities would be to fully implement the certification act.” Budd wanted to know if the nominee could specifically identify the three types of certification.
“No,” Washington said. Budd helpfully identified them as “type certificate, production certificate, air worthiness certificate,” and he wasn’t done.
“Can you tell me what the minimum separation distance is for landing and departing airliners during the daytime?”
“I don’t want to guess on that, senator,” the Biden FAA nominee said. Budd then asked Washington if he was familiar with the difference between FAA regulations 107 and part 44809 regarding unmanned aircraft such as drones.
“Yes,” said the nominee, but when Budd pressed him on the difference, Washington said “I cannot spell that out.” For all but the willfully blind, the Biden pick is unqualified to head the FAA, but there’s more to it than safety.
Washington headed the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority for six years. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department wanted to know why the Authority awarded a no-bid “sole-source” contract for a sexual harassment hotline to the Peace Over Violence organization. Phillip Washington was the subject of a search warrant and so was LA County Supervisor Sheila Keuhl, a close friend of Peace Over Violence CEO Patti Giggins, and once a national figure of sorts.
Born in 1941, Keuhl was an actress on “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,” on television from 1959 to 1963. Keuhl served in the California State Assembly from 1994-2000 and the state Senate from 2000-2008. The former actress moved on to the LA Board of supervisors and served on the LA Metro transportation board.
Keuhl claimed the Peace Over Violence contract did not involve her and called the search a “thuggish attempt to intimidate and silence not just me but many other public servants.” Phil Washington told reporters “all the allegations are false,” but the matter did not end there.
Sen. Ted Cruz cited “serious concerns regarding outstanding allegations of misconduct going back to Mr. Washington’s time at LA Metro. He was named in multiple search warrants in an ongoing criminal public corruption investigation and was the subject of multiple whistleblower complaints.” Washington was also named in a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by a former Denver airport employee.
As Cruz noted, the nominee’s failure to notify the committee of that lawsuit was one of “dozens of omissions” in his questionnaire. In Denver, Washington had stressed “sociocultural merits” and on March 1 the nominee was unable to answer basic questions about aviation safety. This failure should come as no surprise.
At all levels, the various boards and commissions serve as soft landing spots for failed politicians, party hacks and bureaucrats. Witness the pathetic Pete Buttigieg on extended leave during a supply-chain crisis and ignoring a toxic train derailment in Ohio.
In similar style, Biden labor secretary nominee Julie Su enabled billions in unemployment fraud and supports the elimination of independent freelance workers. This is what happens when people are selected for political connections and “sociocultural merits” instead of proven experience.
As NPR also noted, “Washington led Biden’s transition team for the Transportation Department,” so it’s clear the FAA post was a reward for service to Joe Biden. If anybody thought the Delaware Democrat doesn’t care about the safety of the people it would be hard to blame them.