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Trump’s pick for US highway chief withdraws from process

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — President Trump’s nominee to lead the Federal Highway Administration has withdrawn from consideration for the post, a surprising development given his widespread support and qualifications, the U.S. Department of Transportation confirmed on Monday.

A DOT spokesperson said that Paul Trombino III was stepping away from the federal appointment for family reasons. Trombino told colleagues in an email on Friday that he had decided to stay in Iowa to take care of his ailing father, whose condition has recently deteriorated.

Trump announced Trombino’s nomination in September, and he received bipartisan support. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee endorsed Trombino in October. Members called the 51-year-old nominee a talented administrator who would help rebuild the country’s highways. He had been awaiting a vote from the full chamber to lead the agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation, which that has a $44 billion annual highway-aid budget and 3,000 employees.

Iowa Department of Transportation Director Paul Trombino speaks in 2013 during a meeting of the Iowa state Legislature's Administrative Rules Review Committee. Trombino, President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the Federal Highway Administration, has withdrawn from consideration for the post. A U.S. Department of Transportation spokesperson said on Monday that Trombino was stepping away from the federal appointment for reasons related to his family. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Iowa Department of Transportation Director Paul Trombino speaks in 2013 during a meeting of the Iowa state Legislature’s Administrative Rules Review Committee. Trombino, President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Federal Highway Administration, has withdrawn from consideration for the post. A U.S. Department of Transportation spokesperson said on Monday that Trombino was stepping away from the federal appointment for reasons related to his family. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Trombino was a favorite of road builders who successfully helped push for Iowa’s 10-cent-per-gallon gas tax increase in 2015. The Wisconsin native had spent most of his career at the Wisconsin DOT as an engineer and administrator. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad picked him to run the Iowa DOT in 2011 and he was considered a visionary leader fluent in everything from self-driving cars to shipping policy. Trombino served as president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials for 2015-2016, a prestigious position in the field.

Trombino surprised Iowa officials when he announced plans to step down the day after the presidential election held in November 2016, saying he wanted to look for jobs in the private sector. He soon became president of McClure Engineering Company, an Iowa-based firm.

He told employees in an email Friday that he intends to stay there, saying he looked forward to continuing to work with their “wonderful team.”

“After many conversations with my family, we have decided that it is best that I withdraw from the nomination process,” he wrote. “Iowa is my home and I need to be here for what likely will be the last two years or less of my father’s life.”

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