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And Then There Were Three at FERC?

And Then There Were Three at FERC?

FERC Commissioner Suedeen Kelly late Friday had not been confirmed for a second term to the Commission, and it was not looking especially promising that the Senate would get around to it before adjourning for the year.

Absent Senate confirmation Friday night or over the weekend, Kelly, who has sat on the Commission for only a little more than a year, would be out of her job as a FERC commissioner. She would have to be re-nominated by President Bush again in 2005, and then go through the confirmation process again in the Senate, in order to regain her seat on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

"I don't think it's going to happen. It's not looking especially good," said a knowledgeable Capitol Hill aide Friday, referring to Kelly's confirmation. But "we've got our fingers and toes crossed that the Senate before it leaves will be able to reach some agreement."

Kelly's nomination "is not going anywhere until the next Congress," agreed a spokeswoman for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. She noted President Bush won't be able to make a recess appointment while the Senate is adjourned because Kelly already was a member of FERC.

Kelly was traveling Friday and could not be reached for comment. Asked if Kelly would be in her office Monday, a staff member said, "I hope so...I'm assuming she will be in."

Without Kelly, a Democrat, the Commission will be made up of three Republicans -- FERC Chairman Pat Wood, and Commissioners Nora M. Brownell and Joseph Kelliher.

Kelly was one of approximately 200 Bush administration nominees being blocked by newly minted Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) until he wins confirmation of a nominee to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission who opposes the government's plan to deliver tons of spent nuclear waste to a repository in Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

Reid's blanket obstruction essentially trumped a hold that Sen. Larry E. Craig (R-ID) has had on Kelly's nomination since last June. Craig vowed to keep the hold on Kelly until the Senate Democrats cleared the way for a vote on Al Lance to the Veterans Court of Appeals.

Kelly joined the Commission in November 2003, and served out the remainder of a term of a prior Commissioner that expired on June 30 of this year. She had been serving out a grace period that expired when Congress adjourned for the year. The White House in April re-nominated Kelly, a former New Mexico regulator, to a full five-year term that would end on June 30, 2009.

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