After complaints of discrimination followed by a case in the D.C. Circuit Court and several interim leaders, we might get a new Architect of the Capitol. On Dec. 9, President Donald J. Trump nominated J. Brett Blanton, currently the deputy vice president for engineering at the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority, for the position. On Dec. 16, following a Senate Rules and Administration Committee business meeting, Blanton's nomination was added to the Senate Executive Calendar where it awaits further consideration on the Senate floor. If selected, Blanton will steward the Capitol and its surrounding grounds for the full term of 10 years.
Following Trump’s initial submission, the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration held sparsely attended hearings for Blanton on Dec. 12, which, according to Roll Call, Blanton credits to a lack of controversy over his nomination. On the day of his nomination, senators from the Committee on Rules and Administration responded without opposition.
“I congratulate Mr. Blanton on his nomination to serve as Architect of the Capitol,” said Committee on House Administration chairperson Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) in a Senate press release. “If confirmed, I look forward to working collaboratively with Mr. Blanton on security upgrades throughout the Capitol grounds, overseeing ongoing renovations of the Cannon House Office Building, and importantly, renewing our focus towards sustainability and responsible environmental stewardship as the AOC continues its work preserving and maintaining the historic structures and grounds on the Capitol campus.”
If appointed, Blanton would take the lead for the Cannon Renewal Project, a 10-year plan to renovate the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C. The five-phase project began in 2015 with an initial budget of $753 million. The project has faced delays, however, due to the discovery of hazardous materials on the site and may run $100 million over budget.
In his current role, Blanton oversees the planning, design, construction, permitting, for Ronald Reagan Washington National and Dulles International airports, which service 50 million passengers each year. With over 25 years of experience in the public sector, Blanton is also a retired commander for the Navy Civil Engineer Corps where he served for 22 years. Blanton received a B.S. in aerospace, aeronautical, and astronautical engineering from the United States Naval Academy in 1993 and a M.S. in ocean engineering from Virginia Tech.