Senate Confirms Richardson to Head DOE
A last-minute concession by the White House on nuclear-waste
storage cleared the way for the Senate on Friday to confirm by
unanimous consent Bill Richardson, currently the U.S. ambassador to
the United Nations, as the next secretary of the Department of
The Senate vote came less than one day after President Clinton
sent a letter to Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID), who vowed to put a hold
on the nomination, assuring him that Richardson would have full
authority to deal with Congress to resolve the controversial
nuclear-waste storage issue.
"Let me assure you that Ambassador Richardson has the portfolio
for addressing the nuclear-waste issue and has full authority to
carry out his responsibilities in this area," Clinton wrote in his
July 30th letter to Craig.
Craig "feels that he's forced the issue with them. His demands
were met and he doesn't see a need to carry on with it," said Will
Hart, Craig's press aide on Friday prior to the Senate vote.
Richardson is "now empowered to solve this problem."
The letter put an end to what was shaping up to be an angry
showdown between the White House and Craig over the nuclear-waste
storage issue, with the Richardson nomination caught in middle.
Craig, a member of the Senate Energy Committee, was supported in
his effort by Senate Energy Chairman Frank Murkowski (R-AK) and
Sen. Rod Grams (R-MN), but faced opposition from the committee's
Richardson, once sworn in, would succeed Federico Pena, who
stepped down as DOE secretary in late June. Deputy Energy Secretary
Elizabeth Moler has been the acting energy secretary since then,
but she is expected to leave the department after Richardson takes
office, according to Washington sources.
©Copyright 1998 Intelligence Press, Inc. All rights
reserved. The preceding news report may not be republished or
redistributed in whole or in part without prior written consent of
Intelligence Press, Inc.