Senate confirms two energy commission nominees, restoring quorum

Senate confirms two energy commission nominees, restoring quorum
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The Senate voted Thursday evening to confirm two of President Trump's nominees to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), paving the way for the commission to have its first quorum in six months.

Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson were confirmed by unanimous consent and are slated to join the five-member board, which has seen its action paused since February following a pair of retirements.

FERC is responsible for permitting decisions on energy projects like natural gas pipelines and export terminals. The lack of a quorum has left FERC unable to move such projects forward, inaction that has led to frustration in the energy, manufacturing and business communities.

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Neither Chatterjee nor Powelson was considered a controversial pick. Chatterjee is an energy aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPelosi: 'Thug' Putin not welcome in Congress GOP to White House: End summit mystery Sunk judicial pick spills over into Supreme Court fight MORE (R-Ky.), and Powelson is a Pennsylvania utilities regulator.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee advanced both nominations in June on 20-3 votes. Democrats, though, had been hesitant to bring their nominations to the floor for confirmation votes until they were assured a Democratic nominee would receive a vote as well.

The White House filed paperwork for Democrat Richard Glick’s nomination on Wednesday. Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThis week: GOP mulls vote on ‘abolish ICE’ legislation Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick McConnell: Senate to confirm Kavanaugh by Oct. 1 MORE (R-Alaska) announced Thursday she would hold a September hearing for Glick’s nomination and that of Kevin McIntrye, whom Trump has picked to be chairman of the commission.

Democrat Cheryl LaFleur is the only current member of FERC. Former Commissioner Colette Honorable and former Chairman Norman Bay left the commission earlier this year.