WASHINGTON, D.C. — After more than a year without a top official tabbed for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), President Trump on Thursday announced his pick for the post: Heidi King.
In fact, King is already in a leadership role at the regulatory agency — she has served as deputy administrator since September.
NHTSA’s previous administrator was Mark Rosekind, an Obama appointee whose tenure ended before Trump took office in January 2017.
In addition to her current role as deputy administrator of NHTSA, King’s experience in Washington 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.
Trump’s announcement on Thursday was his “intent to nominate” King as administrator of NHTSA. After the president formally nominates her, the Senate will vote on whether to confirm her for the position.
Among other duties, NHTSA develops and maintains federal motor vehicle safety standards for school buses. During Rosekind’s tenure as administrator, the agency held a series of meetings on pupil transportation safety, two of which focused on seat belts on school buses.
At industry conferences in 2015, Rosekind said that NHTSA had taken the new position that “every child on every school bus should have a three-point seat belt.” However, the agency has not proposed a rulemaking to turn that statement into a mandate.