Senate committee hits brakes on new NHTSA administrator vote

May 22, 2018

The federal agency that oversees new car safety and emissions standards may go even longer without an official leader. On Tuesday, a Senate committee pushed back a vote on the Trump administration's new NHTSA administrator nominee over concerns about how she plans to handle an ongoing airbag recall that has affected numerous automakers.

The Detroit News reported that concerns over nominee Heidi King's ability to supervise the massive Takata airbag recall prompted the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to postpone a vote planned for Tuesday. The committee has not said when the vote could take place.

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Bryan Gulley, a spokesman for the committee's 12 Democrats, told The Detroit News that the vote's postponement was over Florida Democrat Bill Nelson's concerns for King's insufficient answers on the NHTSA's handling of Takata recalls.

King spent much of last week answering questions from the committee about the massive airbag recall linked to more than a dozen deaths in the U.S. Under former NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. Nearly 50 million Takata airbags installed in millions of cars were recalled.

During Rosekind's tenure, the NHTSA stepped up its oversight of automakers and suppliers. King last week signaled reluctance to give the NHTSA such broad oversight.

Since September, King has served as the NHTSA's deputy administrator.

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