Will NTSB head become next Secretary of Transportation?

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Will the current chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board become the next Secretary of Transportation? The answer is “yes” if the head of the Senate committee that must approve the next nominee has his way.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced Tuesday (Jan. 29) that he was leaving his post. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va), who also announced he was leaving the Senate at the end of his current term, said NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman has the experience to be “a terrific DOT Secretary.”

According to The Hill, Rockefeller added in his endorsement that Hersman “will make safety and investment in infrastructure priorities.”

The Senator told The Hill, which reports about political activities on Capitol Hill, that “Debbie has a great background — she has strong West Virginia ties and is a dedicated public servant.”

Prior to being appointed to the NTSB, by President George W. Bush, Hersman worked for the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, chaired by Rockefeller. She has indicated in the past that she is not interested in the DOT post but could change her mind if approached by President Obama, who has been under fire for his lack of women in his second term cabinet. She was appointed to the NTSB for a five-year term in July 2007.

Hersman has familiarity with aviation. She is the daughter of retired Air Force Brigadier General Walt Hersman.

LaHood is well thought of for his work at DOT. The National Air Traffic Controllers Association praised him as “an extraordinary leader.” NATCA had been in conflict with the FAA over contracts and wages and LaHood stepped in to help resolve the differences.

There have been no indications from the White House when the President will announce his choice for LaHood’s replacement.

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