Former NHTSA administrator nominee still serving as acting administrator, raising serious issues

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On May 30, President Joe Biden withdrew the nomination of Ann Carlson to be the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

This was after her nomination had received wide opposition and it had become clear she wouldn’t get confirmed.

So why is she still serving as acting administrator of NHTSA? That’s a good question and one that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee has asked, along with Committee Republicans.

In a letter sent last week to President Biden, the senators wrote:

As Members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation (Commerce Committee), we write to express our deep concern with your decision to disregard the Senate’s constitutional authority on appointments by naming failed-nominee Ann Carlson to serve as the acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In circumvention of the Senate’s constitutional responsibility to provide advice and consent on presidential nominations, you appointed Ms. Carlson to lead the agency after her nomination to be NHTSA administrator failed in the face of significant Senate opposition due to her extreme policy views, radical environmentalist record, and lack of vehicle safety experience. Ms. Carlson’s appointment as acting administrator not only violates the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (Vacancies Act) but also renders the agency’s actions while she has held herself out as acting administrator invalid. We urge you to immediately replace Ms. Carlson as acting administrator and name a new nominee as soon as possible.

The senators are right to be concerned with Carlson still leading NHTSA. There could be serious implications, including the possibility that many recent NHTSA rules could be invalid.

Regardless of one’s views on Carlson, Congress needs to provide the proper oversight on this matter and take appropriation action to ensure that the Senate’s authority on appointments isn’t ignored.