The Senate Banking Committee approved the nomination of former Rep. Thelma Drake to be administrator of the Federal Transit Administration in a 24-1 vote on May 15.
The lone opposing vote came from Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., who sparred with Drake [seen below] during her April 17 nomination hearing over issues related to the proposed series of Gateway passenger rail projects into New York City. At the time Menendez claimed Drake had “changed her answers” from what she said in a meeting with him prior to the hearing.
Gateway refers to a set of tunnel and bridge projects designed to upgrade passenger rail service into New York City. They would include building a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River from New Jersey before Amtrak can close and fully repair the century-old existing tubes that were heavily damaged by storm surge from Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Members of Congress from New York and New Jersey have been squaring off with Trump administration officials after the president has backed away from pledges made by the Obama administration to split the project costs evenly between regional and federal sources. In addition, the current administration has objected to letting the two states count hoped-for federal project loans as part of the local share contribution.
Drake’s nomination now heads to the full Senate for a confirmation vote.