President Donald Trump's private pilot may have a difficult road to confirmation as Federal Aviation Administrator, warned Sen. John Thune in an interview on Monday evening.
The Senate Commerce Committee chairman did not explicitly say that John Dunkin, Trump's pilot, will not be confirmed if nominated for the post. But the South Dakota Republican said he has told the White House there are far easier battles for the president to fight in a Senate controlled by a threadbare 51-seat GOP majority.
"I'd prefer that they send somebody up that we can confirm easily. I've conveyed that to them," Thune said. "I'm sure that the Democrats would probably want to make it challenging" for Dunkin.
Axios reported on Sunday evening that Trump is privately pressing for Dunkin to lead the Federal Aviation Administration. Acting FAA administrator Dan Elwell, former FAA official Bobby Sturgell and Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) are also in the mix.
Dunkin would clearly be the most challenging of the group to confirm given his close ties to Trump and Democrats' opposition to the president and much of his agenda. With Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) being treated for cancer away from Washington, just one Republican can stop a nominee in its tracks if there is uniform Democratic opposition.
"They say he's got good qualifications and all that," Thune said of Duncan. "But there are other people that I'm aware of that they've been vetting that would be very good in that position."