Eno Transportation Weekly

Trombino Withdraws as FHWA Nominee

December 14, 2017

Paul Trombino, President Trump’s widely hailed pick to run the Federal Highway Administration, withdrew his name from consideration for the post this week, citing the need to stay in Iowa near his ailing father.

Trombino told employees at McClure Engineering, where he serves as president, last Friday that he was going to remain in Iowa at the firm.

Trombino worked at the Wisconsin DOT for 17 years before running the Iowa DOT for five years. He was the consensus pick of the organization of state DOTs (AASHTO) for the FHWA job, which is critical since the federal-aid highway program is 80+ percent funded by the federal government but almost completely administered by the state DOTs, who have a symbiotic relationship with FHWA. He got credit from both Republicans and Democrats at his confirmation hearing on October 5 for working to increase the gas tax while at Iowa DOT.

His nomination was approved by the Environment and Public Works Committee on October 25 by voice vote, and his nomination was presumably going to be among the non-controversial nominations included in the traditional year-end recess package of nominees that clears the Senate on the last day of session. As of the close of business this week, the White House had not yet sent up a formal withdrawal notice for his nomination, so it is still on the Senate Executive Calendar.

There is no word yet on who the White House will pick to replace Trombino. The prospect of an extended FHWA vacancy will be added to the current vacancies at the Federal Transit Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, for whom no nominees have yet been selected, and the Federal Aviation Administration, where Michael Huerta’s five-year term ends in early January and no replacement has yet been nominated. Two other nominees to run modal administrations (Ronald Batory at the Federal Railroad Administration and Raymond Martinez at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) have been approved by committee and are on the Senate Executive Calendar.

The Trump White House has now officially waited longer to nominate its first FTA and NHTSA nomination, as well as the Assistant Secretaries for Policy, for Budget, and for Aviation and International Affairs, than did Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama did their first years in office, as the chart below shows.