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Washington — President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will face a key vote Wednesday on whether her nomination should move forward. 

 

The U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee was scheduled to  vote in May on the nomination of NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King, who was tapped by Trump after seven months as the de-facto chief of the agency. The vote was postponed after a senator on that committee expressed concern over her earlier testimony.

The panel said Thursday it will vote on King's nomination on June 27. 

Bryan Gulley, a spokesman for Democrats on the Commerce Committee, told The Detroit News in May that the original attempt to advance King's nomination to a vote by the full Senate was pulled back "in part due to lingering concerns expressed by (U.S. Sen. Bill) Nelson (D-Fla.) regarding King's lack of sufficient answers on NHTSA's handling of Takata recalls."   

King, who came to NHTSA with a private sector background as global director of environmental health and safety risk at GE Capital, told lawmakers in her May testimony that she questioned whether NHTSA will have the legal authority to compel carmakers to release public plans for fixing faulty air bags, nothing that some of the information about fixes for specific models could be proprietary.

Exploding Takata air bag inflators have been linked to at least 15 deaths and more than 275 injuries in the United States. NHTSA has said only 23.2 million of the 50 million air bags recalled by April 27 have been repaired.

King also was questioned about plans by the White House to relax stringent emission standards for new cars, and what the safety agency is doing to prepare for self-driving cars.

Despite the concerns that have been raised by Democrats and safety advocates, King is expected to win support from Republicans on the Senate committee, where Republicans outnumber Democrats by a 14-13 margin. 

klaing@detroitnews.com

(202) 662-8735

Twitter: @Keith_Laing

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