Federal Railroad Administration Administrator Sarah Feinberg testifies during a hearing before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee June 2, 2015. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Sarah Feinberg, a former chief of staff to U.S. Transportation Sec. Anthony Foxx, was confirmed Wednesday as head of the Federal Railroad Administration.
Feinberg has been acting administrator since January, and the vote putting her formally in charge came in tandem with Wednesday’s stopgap vote to extend transportation funding for three weeks and to delay a train-safety deadline for at least three years.

While Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said in a statement that she was disappointed she and her colleagues couldn’t shorten the three to five-year delay in the Dec. 31 deadline for installing automatic-breaking technology, “I believe a strong team of Senators brought enough pressure to finally approve Sarah Feinberg” as FRA administrator.

“Sarah Feinberg has brought a fresh perspective and renewed vigor to safety issues since taking over the Federal Railroad Administration,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D.-Conn.) “With dozens of outstanding safety recommendations and Congressional mandates still languishing, the need for real leadership is clear. It is imperative that Ms. Feinberg end the FRA’s old, stale way of doing business, crossing its fingers that railroads comply with the law, and instead adopt a new approach that relies on strong, aggressive enforcement practices, regardless of whether the industry likes it.”

Edward R. Hamberger, president of the Association of American Railroads, said the industry looks forward to continuing to work together with Feinberg.

“On behalf of America’s rail industry, we congratulate Ms. Feinberg on her confirmation. The rail industry and the dedicated men and women who work for our nation’s railroads share a steadfast commitment to safety and will continue to work closely with the FRA Administrator and her team,” Hamberger said.