Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has taken aim at President Biden’s “incompetent” cabinet picks and issued a warning to Democratic senators who are on the ballot in 2024 that their support of the Biden administration and those who he nominates to serve in certain roles will be kept in check by the voters.
“It has been amazing, this cabinet, the combination of putting people in place who don’t have the experience to do the job, putting people in place who are incompetent and nominating people because they’re ideologues and the two are intertwined,” Cruz told Fox News Digital of the Biden administration.
Cruz’s comments came Friday from Palm Beach, Florida, where he addressed dozens of major Republican contributors gathered at a donor retreat hosted by the fiscally conservative Club for Growth.
Discussing Biden’s nomination of Denver International Airport (DIA) CEO Phil Washington to lead the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Cruz said he wondered “what senator, particularly what Democrat senator on the ballot in 2024,” would “risk” support to vote in favor of Washington — whom he said “knows absolutely nothing about aviation safety.”
“Phil Washington knows absolutely nothing about aviation safety, has no background in aviation safety,” Cruz said. “Now this is the guy in charge of the FAA, in charge of all the air traffic controllers, in charge of making sure that that flying on an airplane is safe. He’s not a pilot. He wasn’t a military pilot. He wasn’t a commercial pilot. He’s never been an air traffic controller. He’s never worked at an airline. He’s never worked in an airline manufacturer. He’s never worked at any place repairing airplanes. It is truly stunning.”
Though Washington made a career in the armed forces, Cruz said Washington’s military service “had zero to do with aviation.”
“He’s been a Democrat appointee running the L.A. Metro and now running for 20 months the Denver airport,” Cruz added of Washington. “But look, the important thing in running the Denver airport, it’s essentially a giant shopping mall. He’s running the restaurants. He’s running the coffee shops and the newsstands and the parking spaces. He doesn’t run the air traffic controllers. He doesn’t run the pilots. He doesn’t run the airplanes. He runs the physical plant. And by law, the head of the FAA has to have expertise in aviation.”
Washington was first nominated by Biden last year, but he failed to advance amid concerns from Republicans about his experience. His confirmation has been further stalled by allegations of discriminatory and retaliatory practices by Washington at DIA and his involvement with a corruption investigation at LA Metro.
Washington was CEO at LA Metro, which is being investigated after it awarded a pricey contract for a sexual harassment hotline — the hotline was found to cost over $8,000 per call it received — that was awarded to a charity run by a close friend of an LA Metro board member. Washington has denied wrongdoing, but Cruz has called on the Senate to proceed slowly with his nomination in light of these allegations and other whistleblower claims of misconduct.
The Texas senator, who has represented the Lone Star state in the Senate since 2013, said it “is shocking that the Biden administration would treat this job, a very specialized position, as essentially a patronage position, a place to give political spoils to support the political bodies of their Democrat supporters.”
During his interview with Fox, Cruz also took direct aim at Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg, who he said is responsible for “crisis after crisis” during Biden’s continuing tenure in the White House.
“Pete Buttigieg was the mayor of a small town, and suddenly, this president put him in charge of the Department of Transportation, a massive cabinet agency,” Cruz said. “In two years, we’ve had crisis after crisis after crisis all on his watch.”
Pointing to specific instances of what he considered to be failures under the transportation department, Cruz blasted Buttigieg for his handling of supply chain issues, a near nationwide rail strike, and the toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.
“We had we came within inches of a nationwide rail strike, which would have had massive economic repercussions. We’ve got the price of gasoline skyrocketing,” he said. “Under Buttigieg, we had the first aviation ground stop, all civil aviation grounded since September 11. Why? Because the FAA, on his watch, screwed up and messed up what’s called the NOTAM system and ended up grounding every plane in America. And then you’ve got the derailment in East Palestine, where for two weeks he wouldn’t show up.”
Cruz said he believes it was former President Donald Trump’s trip to the devastated Ohio region last week that pushed Buttigieg to finally make a trip to the town.
“It took Donald Trump going there and guilting him into doing his job,” Cruz said. “I asked at CPAC, ‘What the heck does this guy have to do to get fired?’ At some point competence matters.”
Fox News’ Chris Pandolfo contributed to this article.