WASHINGTON, D.C. — Heidi King, President Trump’s pick to lead the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), moved closer to confirmation on Wednesday when she narrowly cleared a Senate committee.
The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation voted 14-13 to approve King’s nomination, which now advances to the full Senate for a confirmation vote.
King has served as deputy administrator of NHTSA since September. Her experience in Washington also includes serving as chief economist for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and as a regulatory policy analyst in the White House’s Office of Management and Budget from 1998 to 2000 and from 2007 to 2011. In those roles, she became familiar with NHTSA and its work on Corporate Average Fuel Economy, according to her official NHTSA bio.
King has also worked in the private sector, for such companies as Telcordia Technologies, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, and GE Capital. She reportedly gained experience in traffic safety and emergency response as a California state park ranger and as a volunteer emergency medical technician.
NHTSA has been without an administrator since Mark Rosekind stepped down before Trump took office in January 2017. The president nominated King for the post in April, but her Senate committee vote was postponed after a hearing in May, apparently due to Democrats’ dissatisfaction with her stances on the Takata air bag recall and car emission standards.
Now, having cleared the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, King will face a confirmation vote by the full Senate. It is unclear at this point when that vote will take place. As Safety+Health magazine pointed out, other safety agency leadership nominees have typically waited at least a few months for a Senate confirmation vote after gaining committee approval.
Safety+Health magazine is published by the National Safety Council, which has expressed its support for King’s nomination to lead NHTSA.
“King’s leadership experience and commitment to safety are much needed at a time when motor vehicle crashes are killing more than 100 people per day in the United States,” the National Safety Council said in a press release in April. “King understands the importance of proven prevention strategies combined with forward-thinking innovation as we take aim at this everyday killer.”
The Detroit News noted that no Democrats in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation voted in favor of King, but she is expected to win support in the full Senate from the majority-holding Republicans.