Senate panel clears Trump’s nominee for NOAA

Senate panel clears Trump’s nominee for NOAA
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The Senate Commerce Committee voted Wednesday to move forward with the nomination of Barry Myers to be head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The 14-13 vote, along party lines, puts Myers in a position for a vote in the full Senate.

Myers was until recently the CEO of AccuWeather Inc., which he founded with his brother.

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The weather forecasting company provides products similar to some NOAA services such as the National Weather Service, leading to concerns among Democrats that Myers is unacceptably conflicted.

“While he is clearly knowledgeable about our national weather program, I remain concerned about conflicts of interest due to his family connections with AccuWeather, whether they can and will be avoided,” Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonPoll: 8 in 10 people in key states concerned about driverless cars Ted Cruz and Bill Nelson give NASA a reality check on privatizing International Space Station Overnight Defense: Senate confirms Haspel as CIA chief | Trump offers Kim 'protections' if he gives up nukes | Dem amendments target Trump military parade MORE (Fla.), the panel’s top Democrat, said before the committee vote.

“It is imperative, if he is confirmed, that he demonstrate that he will approach this position as a public service role, not as another private sector role,” Nelson said, adding that he hopes Myers “will prove me wrong.”

Nelson’s objections to Myers included Myers’s support for a 2005 GOP bill that would have largely prohibited the National Weather Service from many consumer-facing functions that compete with private forecasters.

Sen. Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanSenate panel unanimously approves water infrastructure bill Senate GOP anger over McCain insult grows GOP senator calls on White House aide to apologize for McCain remark MORE (R-Alaska), who chairs the subcommittee with authority over NOAA, pushed back at Nelson, pointing out that Myers agreed to abide by all applicable ethics and conflict-of-interest standards at his confirmation hearing last month.

“Mr. Myers directly addressed it in his opening statement,” Sullivan said.

“He was unequivocal on this issue,” he said. “As a senator who watched the entire hearing, I’m not sure what else he could have said on the issue of conflict of interest.”