In a latest move, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) have introduced a bill that would strip the federal salary of the acting National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) administrator appointed by the Biden administration. This bill was introduced as an amendment to a ‘minibus’ appropriations package funding the Departments of Transportation, Housing, and Veterans Affairs.
The acting administrator, Ann Carlson, was appointed by the White House in September 2022 after her nomination for the permanent position failed to pass the Senate’s confirmation. The senators, led by Cruz, argued that the White House is not following the constitutional mandate by allowing Carlson to continue working as acting administrator.
As per the Act of Federal Vacancies Reform, any person nominated for a vacant office must not perform any duties of that office in an acting capacity. Also, Carlson has failed to serve as the initial assistant to former NHTSA Administrator Steven Cliff for more than 90 days before he resigned.
Furthermore, Cruz noted that the White House’s decision to keep Carlson at her position casts doubts on the legality of the agency’s activities. NHTSA has proposed the toughest fuel economy standards yet, which has sparked significant industry and congressional opposition.
Naming failed nominee Ann Carlson as the acting administrator of the @NHTSAgov after she was effectively rejected by the Senate disregards the Senate’s constitutional authority on appointments.
She should be removed from her role immediately.https://t.co/62X9WiHfUN
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) September 28, 2023
Despite Carlson’s withdrawal nominations, the White House still keeps her in the position- a decision which is said to be putting the car industry and job security of majority of associated workforce at risk. The senators demand immediate correction of the violation by removing her from the said position and nominating an apt and qualified administrator for the NHTSA.
Since the bill was newly introduced, it’s yet to be seen how it will proceed over the next few months. Many hope that it passes and Carlson’s influence is minimized in the Biden administration’s decision-making.
Leave to the Biden administration to keep an official in office that didn’t make it through confirmation with a Senate that is controlled by the Democrats.