Washington, DC – An important new read in the energy and environmental publication Greenwire, titled “Top jobs vacant as nominees languish in confirmation limbo,” highlights how Senate Republicans’ obstruction has blocked a series of key energy and environmental nominees from receiving a vote in the Senate, causing these important executive branch jobs to remain unfilled.
The piece (behind a paywall), reads in part:
“Richard Engler has been in nomination purgatory for a long time.
Since late 2012, he's been President Obama's nominee for a chemical safety watchdog panel. He's had his finances and personal life scrutinized and been grilled by the White House, the FBI and Senate Republicans. He's got a transition plan ready in case he gets uprooted from his job in New Jersey and he's prepared to move to Washington, D.C., without much notice at any time, should he finally win Senate confirmation.
‘The uncertainty has almost become part of daily life,’ Engler said.
He's not alone. Engler is one of a spate of Obama nominees living in limbo. Across the government, there are more than 200 posts awaiting Senate confirmation -- including some like Engler who have been waiting for years, according to White House data. That includes more than two dozen key nominees for high-ranking energy and environmental gigs…
…As government agencies await new leaders, the widespread vacancies can create uncertainty about agency management and the future of key policies as the clock ticks down on Obama's second term. For now, that means there are no Senate-confirmed bosses to oversee EPA's air program, the Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service, or the Energy Department's Office of Science…
…Ken Kopocis, the administration's pick to be U.S. EPA's next water chief, was nominated more than three years ago in June 2011. The former Capitol Hill staffer is liked on both sides of the aisle, but he's become a lightning rod for attacks on the Obama administration's water policies, and it's unclear whether he'll ever win the Senate's blessing (Greenwire, May 9).
He's one of six EPA nominees awaiting Senate confirmation. Nine other nominees are awaiting confirmation for top Energy Department posts, and the White House is on the hunt for a new deputy secretary after Daniel Poneman recently announced he'll be stepping down. Three top Interior picks are awaiting Senate confirmation…
…Theoretically, that [November’s Senate rules change] paved the way for the administration to plow ahead with nomination votes despite Republican opposition. But some confirmations have still been sluggish as the administration has focused on moving judicial nominees, and Senate rules still require a significant chunk of time to consider each nominee. That could be overcome with GOP cooperation, but Republicans were incensed by the rules change and are often taking advantage of the remaining procedural hurdles.”
In light of Republicans’ continued time wasting – as evidenced by blocking votes on 22 nominations that they later voted unanimously to confirm – the Fix the Senate Now coalition strongly supports potential “use it or lose it” reform in the Senate.
Those dedicated to Senate gridlock and time wasting should have to either use the post-cloture time allotted to debate or discuss relevant matters or else lose the allotted maximum time. Such a reform would cut down on time wasting, prioritize debate and accountability, and help shift the burden of obstruction on those looking to block or slow the Senate’s progress.
For more information or to interview leaders from the Fix the Senate Now coalition, contact Michael Earls at email@example.com