Obama energy nominees expected to clear Senate

President Obama's nominees to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) are expected to clear their final hurdle Tuesday despite Republican opposition.

Obama's nominee to lead the commission, Norman Bay, is expected to have enough votes for confirmation Tuesday afternoon.

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Republicans like Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who sits as ranking member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, argue Bay has little energy policy experience.

While originally working with Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), charwoman on Senate Energy, to strike a bargain with the White House that would keep the current acting chairwoman at FERC, Cheryl LaFleur, in her post, Murkowski isn't happy with the final deal.

According to Landrieu, the White House has agreed to let LaFleur stay on for nine months after she is confirmed Tuesday, and then Bay will step in.

Obama nominated LaFleur again to sit for another five years as a commissioner at FERC.

That bargain isn't good enough, Republicans said Tuesday.

"I'm going to be voting for LaFleur," Murkowski said when asked if she would vote for both Bay and LaFleur.

"Even if I had the assurance, I see no reason the White House would be moving aside a very competent woman," Murkowski added.

Still, Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), said both of Obama's nominees will be confirmed even though the majority of the Republican conference plans to vote against them, himself included.

It's been a bumpy road for Obama when it comes to FERC nominees. His first pick to head FERC after chairman Jon Wellinghoff decided to step down last year, bowed out due to partisan pushback.

The battle surrounding Obama's nominees to FERC have been considered atypical for the little-known agency, which rarely finds itself embroiled in political debates.