Senate confirms Bryson as new Commerce secretary

The Senate late Thursday evening voted to confirm controversial Obama nominee John Bryson to lead Department of Commerce.

Several Republicans expressed their opposition to the confirmation in a tepid floor debate that was scheduled for four hours but lasted for less than two. The major complaint against Bryson revolved around his support for cap-and-trade legislation and his role in founding a major environmental group in the 1970s.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), who delayed the vote back in the summer, lead the quiet opposition arguing that Bryson’s rule, would result in higher energy prices and economy-crushing regulations.

“The Secretary of Commerce ought to have a record of promoting, not stifling economic growth, “said Inhofe. “John Bryson has the latter.”

Inhofe also suggested that putting Bryson at the helm of the Commerce Department was like putting “the fox in charge of the henhouse.”

Several Democrats as well as Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), however, praised Bryson, not only for his congenial disposition but for his vast experience running corporations and nonprofits.

He spent 18 years as an energy executive, serving as CEO of Edison International, and a California-based electric power generator.

Before his time at Edison International, Bryson spent years working on water and power issues in California, first as chairman of the California State Water Resources Control Board in the late 1970s and then as head of the California Public Utilities Commission.

He has also served as a co-chairman of the Electric Drive Transportation Association, an electric vehicles trade association, and as a member of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change.

Bryson has a wealth of non-energy related experience as a director of Boeing and Walt Disney Co.