With Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) poised to become Senate Minority Leader, another problem has popped up on the horizon that could prevent the Senate from confirming FERC Commissioner Suedeen Kelly for another term this week.
Supporters and critics are convinced that Reid will use his new position of authority to hold up a slew of Bush administration nominees, possibly even Kelly, if he does not win confirmation of a nominee to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) who opposes the government’s plan to deliver tons of spent nuclear waste to a repository in Yucca Mountain in Nevada.
“The principal worry for Senate Republicans is that Reid’s insistence that the chamber confirm his top science aide, Greg Jaczko, to the NRC could prevent a whole host of other executive branch nominees from winning confirming in the waning days of the 108th Congress,” reported Roll Call in its Monday edition.
“Senate sources say White House aides have huddled in recent days with Reid’s office in an attempt to reach an accord that would allow the confirmation this week of scores of stalled nominees, including some being pushed by GOP lawmakers, in various executives branches,” the Capitol Hill newspaper said.
Kelly’s confirmation on the Commission has been bogged down in Capitol Hill politics for months. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted out Kelly’s nomination for a second term in June, but Sen. Larry E. Craig (I-ID) quickly placed a hold on the nomination when it reached the Senate floor, preventing senators from confirming her until his concerns were addressed.
Craig has threatened to keep the hold on Kelly, a Democrat, until the Senate Democrats clear the way for a vote on Al Lance to the Veterans Court of Appeals by the Senate. But even if Craig should release his hold this week, Kelly’s nomination could be caught up in Reid’s drive to win confirmation of Jaczko.
The Jaczko confirmation is being opposed by Senate Energy Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Craig. Neither side is relenting. In the meantime, a number of nominees could go unconfirmed this year.
If things aren’t resolved by the time Congress adjourns, Kelly would no longer be a Commissioner. Sources say President Bush would have to re-nominate her next year, and she would have to go through the entire confirmation process again.
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. The White House in April re-nominated her to a full-five year term that would end on June 30, 2009.
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