Nominated FRA chief still awaiting Senate confirmation

Ron Batory has been on hold for 97 days, but President Obama's second FRA pick waited much longer for confirmation
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Ronald L. Batory
Fred W. Frailey
WASHINGTON — It's taken longer to confirm Ron Batory as FRA administrator than three previous presidential nominees for the same post.

It's been 97 days and counting, as of Oct. 16, since President Donald Trump nominated Ron Batory to lead the Federal Railroad Administration. That's nearly three times longer than it took the Senate to confirm President Barack Obama's first nominee to head the FRA, according to data compiled by the Eno Center for Transportation.

The Eno Center's Senior Fellow Jeff Davis recently reported on the pace of the past six presidents' first Department of Transportation nominees after inauguration. The list includes:

• President Bill Clinton nominated Jolene Molitoris to head the FRA on June 26, 1993. The Senate confirmed her on Aug. 5, 1993, a span of 40 days.
• President George W. Bush nominated Allan Rutter on May 14, 2001, whom the Senate confirmed on July 19, 2001, after 66 days.
• President Obama nominated Joe Szabo on March 26, 2009, whom the Senate confirmed on April 29, 2009, after 34 days.

When Szabo resigned in 2015, then Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx appointed Sarah Feinberg as acting FRA administrator almost immediately on Jan. 12. Obama only officially nominated her to the post on May 29. The Senate confirmed Feinberg's nomination on Oct. 28, 2015, after 290 days on the job or 153 days after her nomination.

This year, according to the center's data, the Senate has confirmed only four key Department of Transportation officials: Secretary Elaine Chao, Deputy Secretary Jeffrey Rosen, Mark Buzby, and Howard R. Elliott to head the Maritime, and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety administrations, respectively. Six other modal administrators, Batory included, await confirmation.

Batory's nomination was placed on hold as leverage for the federal government's commitment on the Gateway Program, the Weekly Standard reported on Aug. 12. On June 27, Trump appointed Heath Hall to be FRA deputy administrator, a position that doesn't require confirmation.

More information is available online.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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