Manchin: White House responsive to swapping nominees

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) says that the White House has been responsive to talks about swapping the president's nominees to the nation's electric grid regulator.

At a policy dinner hosted by The Hill Monday night, Manchin said he thinks the White House is responding to discussions to keep the acting chairwoman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Cheryl LaFleur, in that post. That would bump the president's nominee for chair, Norman Bay, to instead serve as a commissioner.

ADVERTISEMENT
"I think they are responding," Manchin said. "I have not been in contact with the White House, not that I am often anyway. With that being said I think they are arguing the cases and there is dialogue going back and forth."

Last week, Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said they were exploring options to work out a deal with a White House about swapping the two nominees.

Republicans and pro-energy Democrats on the Senate Natural Resources Committee prefer LaFleur to Bay, who many say has little policy experience.

A main point of contention for Republicans, and Manchin, is that Bay has never sat as a commissioner on FERC. Since 2009 he has directed the commission's enforcement wing.

But Manchin expressed hope Monday night that the White House would agree to some kind of a deal, one where LaFleur stays on as chairwoman for a long enough time to allow Bay to get some experience.

"I think it will work itself out," Manchin said. "We want to see if we can get him some experience before he goes right in to the chairmanship."

The Senate committee is set to vote on the two nominees Wednesday.