By Ben Geman - 05/22/12 06:51 PM EDT
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) suggested Tuesday that he’d be fine with outgoing Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Gregory Jaczko staying around for quite a while longer.
Jaczko, a former aide to Reid, announced his resignation Monday but plans to stay until the Senate confirms a successor. His term doesn’t expire until the end of June of 2013.
The White House said Monday that President Obama plans to soon nominate a replacement for Jaczko, whose tenure has been marked by tumultuous relationships with his fellow commissioners and Capitol Hill Republicans.
Reid praised Jaczko — calling him “brilliant”— and joined other supporters of the embattled chairman by suggesting that attacks against him are rooted in his policy views.
“He is the first really non-nuclear-industry chairman of that commission,” Reid said of Jaczko, who has a doctorate in physics. “The majority of the members are pro-nuke, and of course they didn’t like the things he did that were trying to call for safety.”
Jaczko told E2 Monday that while he’s heading for the exits, he realizes that it might not be a quick process.
“I’ll let that process play out and if that takes a few months or a month, then that’s fine with me,” Jaczko said of the Senate confirmation process.