Committees approve nominees, but Senate lags in confirmation

RELATED TOPICS: REGULATION | POLITICS
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WASHINGTON — Senate Commerce Committee Chairman U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., has called an Aug. 1 meeting for the committee to vote on a number of pending bills, and possibly the nominations of Martin J. Oberman to be a member of the Surface Transportation Board, and Rick M. Dearborn for a position on the Amtrak Board of Directors.

It's likely Oberman and Dearborn will get the committee's approval, but it's up to the Senate to confirm their appointments. And lately the Senate has been slow in giving its blessing.

The committee on April 25 approved the nominations of Capitol Hill staffer Patrick Fuchs and Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority attorney Michelle A. Schultz to be members of the expanded Surface Transportation Board. They've yet to receive confirmation.

A Commerce Committee representative says that the timing of when the Senate takes up confirmations is the purview of Majority Leader U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Since April 25, the Senate has confirmed 24 federal judges or U.S. attorneys for the Justice Department, according to a scan of the Congressional Record. In the same period, 35 other Executive Branch officials were confirmed, but none for the Department of Transportation.

The ice may be breaking. On July 24, the Senate confirmed Thelma Drake to head the Federal Transit Administration, and Jennifer L. Homendy to join the National Transportation Safety Board.

The Senate Banking Committee approved Drake's nomination on May 15. She was assistant director of transportation for the city of Norfolk, Va.

The Commerce Committee approved Homendy's nomination on May 22. She was Democratic staff director for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee subcommittee for railroads, pipelines and hazardous materials.
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