Democrats Vote to Keep In Place Radical, Senate-Rejected Highway Safety Nominee

October 31, 2023

Cruz argued Ann Carlson’s acting status violates Vacancies Act, amendment would have defunded her salary in role 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) released the following statement after the Senate voted to reject his amendment blocking the Senate-rejected nominee Ann Carlson from continuing to serve as the acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Cruz amendment, which was cosponsored by Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), was to the appropriations bill for the Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and related agencies.

Following the vote, Sen. Cruz said:

It’s disappointing but unsurprising Senate Democrats were keener on keeping in place an ethically-challenged, environmental zealot who wants to ban gas cars than protecting the Senate’s constitutional authority on presidential nominations. With this vote, the Biden administration will continue violating the Vacancies Act and crusading against traditional American energy.”


In March of 2023, the Biden administration submitted Ms. Carlson as the nominee for NHTSA administrator. Before the Senate could vote on her nomination, the administration chose to withdraw her in May once it was clear she would be defeated. After the Senate effectively rejected her nomination, the administration appointed her to that same role as an acting official anyway, in violation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.

Last month, Sen. Cruz led all Committee Republicans in sending a letter to President Biden, blasting the administration for violating the Vacancies Act by allowing Ann Carlson to serve as acting head of the agency. The Senators also asserted that the actions that Carlson has taken while illegally leading the agency, including the issuance of proposed Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for model years 2027-2032, a de facto electric vehicle (EV) mandate, are invalid as a result.

Sens. Cruz and Lummis’ amendment, introduced in September, would not have “defunded” the position of NHTSA administrator as the administration could fill the vacancy on an acting basis with another person, nor would the amendment have forbidden Ms. Carlson from staying at the agency as chief counsel. During her nomination process, serious concerns were raised, highlighting numerous ethical issues involving Ms. Carlson—primarily her ties to Sher Edling—a for-profit, climate litigation firm that receives significant funding from dark money groups.

Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas) is leading a companion amendment in the House of Representatives.