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Jul 7, 2014

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting for Senate Approval

  • Government gridlock continues to impact the U.S. as political gamesmanship not only occasionally threatens to shut the whole system down but more often just gums up the working bureaucracy. Immigration reform, U.S. Postal Service overhaul, and the long held-up Hurricane Sandy relief bill are just several examples of inaction that resulted from bipartisan bickering.

    Now we learn that a number—actually over 200—of President Obama’s nominees to run federal agencies have, in some cases, been languishing for years awaiting Senate approval. A number of the important appointees still await Senate confirmation:

    • EPA: Ken Kopocis, nominated June 2011 as assistant administrator for water
    • DOE: Elizabeth Robinson, nominated July 2013 as undersecretary for management and performance
    • Interior: Rhea Suh, nominated October 2013 as assistant secretary for fish and wildlife
    • Chemical Safety Board: Richard Engler, nominated December 2012 as board member
    • White House: Robert Simon, nominated July 2013 as associate director for energy and environment at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)

    There was some movement, however. Jo Handelsman, Ph.D., was recently confirmed as associate director of the OSTP almost a year post nomination. Dr. Handelsman is Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor and Frederick Phineas Rose Professor in the department of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology at Yale University. She is also founding president of the Rosalind Franklin Society (RFS) and is currently a RFS board member.


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