A deal among White House officials, and Senate Republican leaders and incoming Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has cleared the way for approving some 165 presidential nominations that Reid blocked for months. Under the Nov. 20 agreement, a Reid aide will receive a recess appointment to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Reid released his hold that had stalled more than 100 of President Bush's nominees to various federal positions.

Domenici sought hearing on NRC candidates

Reid said that early in 2005 Bush will provide his science advisor, Gregory Jaczko, a recess appointment as an NRC commissioner. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) said a recess appointment to the NRC also is expected for retired Navy Vice-Admiral Albert H. Konetzni, Jr., who spent much of his military career in the nuclear submarine operations.

Reid is a long-time foe of a proposed underground nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in his state. NRC is to review an expected application to license that facility.

Reid aide to be named to NRC

Domenici said Senate Republicans had made clear they would not agree to confirm Jaczko by unanimous consent. Domenici added that he and 15 other GOP senators had written Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) that said they wouldn't support confirming Jaczko or Konetzni without a formal hearing.

After the deal was reached, the Senate confirmed some 165 nominees early on Nov. 21. Among them are several whose positions affect construction.

They include four at the Environmental Protection Agency: Stephen L. Johnson as deputy administrator; Charles Johnson as chief financial officer; Benjamin Grumbles as assistant administrator for water; and Ann R. Klee as general counsel.

Stephen Johnson and Klee had held those posts for the past several months under appointments President Bush made while Congress was in recess. Grumbles had been acting head of the office of water. From 1992 to 1997, Charles Johnson was chief of staff to EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt when Leavitt was governor of Utah.
In addition, David Savafian was confirmed as administrator for federal procurement policy at the Office of Management and Budget. He had been chief of staff at the General Services Administration.

Suedeen G. Kelly was confirmed to be reappointed as a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Kelly, formerly chair of the New Mexico Public Service Commission and an aide to Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), has been a FERC commissioner since December 2003. Her new term expires June 30, 2009.
In addition, Sue Ellen Wooldridge was approved as solicitor at the Interior Dept.

(Photos courtesy of Office of Sen. Harry Reid and Office of Sen. Pete Domenici)