By Cory Bennett - 03/04/16 11:48 AM EST
House Oversight Committee leaders are urging the Senate to move on the nomination of Beth Cobert to become the permanent director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
“She is a qualified and competent choice to manage OPM, which is in need of strong leadership,” Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzOvernight Energy: Obama signs chemical safety reform into law House caucus to focus on business in Latin America Freedom Caucus urges vote on impeaching IRS commissioner MORE (R-Utah) and ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said in a Friday letter to Senate leaders.
Cobert has spearheaded these efforts since taking over over as interim director in July, shortly after the digital intrusions. The work has earned her bipartisan praise, even from Chaffetz, perhaps the agency’s most vocal critic in the wake of the hacks.
But Sen. David VitterDavid VitterFed chairwoman blasts Trump on debt Senate campaign posts private conversation on Facebook Rand Paul endorses in La. Senate race MORE (R-La.) in late February blocked her nomination to take over as the permanent head of the agency.
In the Chaffetz-Cummings letter — addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellOvernight Healthcare: Dems dig in over Zika funding Business groups ramp up pressure to fill Ex-Im board Senate Dems: No August break without Zika deal MORE (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidOvernight Finance: Obama signs Puerto Rico bill | Trump steps up attacks on trade | Dodd-Frank backers cheer 'too big to fail' decision | New pressure to fill Ex-Im board Iowa poll: Clinton up 14 on Trump, Grassley in tight race with Dem Lynch meeting with Bill Clinton creates firestorm for email case MORE (D-Nev.) — the pair pointed to a letter OPM Inspector General Patrick McFarland sent President Obama last month lauding Cobert.
McFarland had been particularly critical of previous OPM leaders during Capitol Hill hearings, arguing that top officials ignored multiple reports showing glaring security shortcomings at the agency.
But Cobert, McFarland wrote, “appears to have wrapped her arms around the multitude of challenges currently facing OPM.
“Further,” he added, “she seems to be arduously striving to institute high standards of professionalism as she works to reinvigorate this great agency.”
Chaffetz also said Cobert was committed to producing all hack-related documents that the committee chairman recently subpoenaed, in a move seen as critical of the OPM acting director.
Vitter’s hold, however, is unrelated to the hacks.
The Louisiana lawmaker is seeking answers to a letter he sent Cobert last month regarding an OPM rule that allows members of Congress and Capitol Hill employees to receive certain small-business subsidies to help pay for health insurance purchased through an ObamaCare exchange.
“We have now reached the point where OPM can no longer avoid explaining how Congress was allowed to purchase health insurance as a small business — when it clearly is not,” Vitter said in a statement.
“Ms. Cobert’s nomination will not move forward in any capacity until the American people have received answers as to why Washington’s Obamacare exemption exists," he added.