The Senate has confirmed Jo-Ellen Darcy, a veteran Senate aide, to be assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, the top Pentagon official overseeing the Corps of Engineers' non-military programs.
Darcy and more than 40 other nominees for various federal posts were confirmed by voice vote on Aug. 7, shortly before the Senate recessed for its August break.
Her nomination went to the Senate April 2 and was cleared by the Armed Services Committee May 6. Darcy's nomination then was referred to the Environment and Public Works Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Corps civil works program. The "EPW" held its hearing May 12 and the nomination was put on the Senate calendar in June.
But weeks went by with no floor action. An industry source says that although it is believed there were no formal "holds" on Darcy's nomination, members of the Alabama congressional delegation were concerned about a long-running dispute among Alabama, Florida and Georgia over the rights to water from Georgia's Lake Lanier. A key issue in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin water fight is the Corps' operation of Buford Dam, which forms Lake Lanier.
Two members of the Alabama delegation, Sen. Richard Shelby [R], and Rep. Mike Rogers [R], met with Darcy on July 13. The lawmakers said that Darcy had stated that the role of the Army civil works office is not to resolve the water dispute by regulatory action. Shelby said Darcy also had committed to "an honest and fair adjudication of the situation."
Since 2007, Darcy has been senior environmental advisor to the Senate Finance Committee. She previously was a staffer for more than a decade on the Environment and Public Works Committee, working on legislation related to the Corps, the Clean Water Act, Everglades restoration and other water and wildlife issues.
Her positions on the EPW staff included senior policy advisor and deputy staff director. On both committees, she worked with Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who chairs the Finance panel and is a senior member of the EPW panel.
Before coming to Washington, Darcy worked for then-Michigan Gov. James J. Blanchard (D) as federal environmental issues advisor.