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Senate advances energy regulator nominees despite uncertainty of floor vote

Senate advances energy regulator nominees despite uncertainty of floor vote
© Greg Nash

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted on Wednesday to advance the nominations of Allison Clements and Mark Christie to be commissioners at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

However, it’s not clear whether the two nominees, whose confirmations would restore the commission to a full five members, will get a floor vote as the Senate session comes to a close. 

Committee Chairwoman Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiGOP senator defends Cheney, Murkowski after Trump rebuke Trump promises to travel to Alaska to campaign against Murkowski GOP votes in unison against COVID-19 relief bill MORE (R-Alaska) acknowledged the time frame in her opening remarks on Wednesday. 

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“It’s perhaps too early to say what the floor schedule will allow in December,” she said. “But if these nominees are confirmed, FERC would at least have a full complement of five commissioners headed into 2021, which is a far better place than the start of 2017.”

Neither nominee passed the committee unanimously.

Republican Sens. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoGOP senator defends Cheney, Murkowski after Trump rebuke Sunday shows preview: Manchin makes the rounds after pivotal role in coronavirus relief debate Murkowski votes with Senate panel to advance Haaland nomination MORE (Wyo.), Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesProgressives' majority delusions politically costly Susan Collins to back Haaland's Interior nomination OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine MORE (Mont.), John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenOVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine Biden reignites immigration fight in Congress McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time MORE (N.D.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeWhite House downplays surprising February jobs gain, warns US far from recovery White House open to reforming war powers amid bipartisan push Garland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks MORE (Utah) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (Miss.) voted against Clements, and Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoOvernight Defense: Capitol Police may ask National Guard to stay | Biden's Pentagon policy nominee faces criticism | Naval Academy midshipmen moved to hotels Republicans blast Pentagon policy nominee over tweets, Iran nuclear deal OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine MORE (D-Hawaii) voted against Christie. 

FERC regulates natural gas and hydropower projects and the interstate transmission of natural gas, oil and electricity. It’s not supposed to have more than three members of any one party. 

Adding Clements and Christie, a Democrat and Republican, respectively, to the commission would create a 3-2 Republican majority on the panel. 

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Republican James Danly was not paired with a Democratic nominee when he was added to the panel, and the Democratic seat on the commission was left empty. 

Leadership at FERC, which is up to the president’s discretion, recently underwent a shake-up, with Trump appointing Danly chairman, replacing Neil ChatterjeeNeil ChatterjeeOVERNIGHT ENERGY: White House rescinds Trump proposal to restrict greenhouse gas consideration | Texas governor limits shipping natural gas out-of-state amid power shortages | Lawmakers clash over gun prohibition in Natural Resources committee room Almost 5 million without power as winter storm stresses grid in Texas, 13 other states Senate approves two energy regulators, completing panel MOREChatterjee, who is also a Republican, will remain on the commission. 

In remarks praising both nominees on Wednesday, Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellMurkowski votes with Senate panel to advance Haaland nomination Regulators keep close eye on Facebook's deal with Australia Video stirs emotions on Trump trial's first day MORE (D-Wash.) called Chatterjee’s demotion “unjustified.”