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 MurkowskiBill would honor Ginsburg, O'Connor with statues at Capitol The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators 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 BarrassoFormer Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi dies after bicycle accident Overnight Energy: Senate panel advances controversial public lands nominee | Nevada Democrat introduces bill requiring feds to develop fire management plan | NJ requiring public water systems to replace lead pipes in 10 years Senate panel advances controversial public lands nominee in tie vote MORE (Wyo.), Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesSenate committee advances bipartisan energy infrastructure bill  Hillicon Valley: Lina Khan faces major FTC test | Amazon calls for her recusal | Warren taps commodities watchdog to probe Google Senators propose bill to help private sector defend against hackers MORE (Mont.), John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators Senate votes to take up infrastructure deal MORE (N.D.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeHouse GOP stages mask mandate protest 228 Republican lawmakers urge Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade Economic growth rose to 6.5 percent annual rate in second quarter MORE (Utah) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (Miss.) voted against Clements, and Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoHillicon Valley: Facebook tightens teen protections | FBI cautions against banning ransomware payments | Republicans probe White House-social media collaboration Top FBI official advises Congress against banning ransomware payments Democrats criticize FBI's handling of tip line in Kavanaugh investigation 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 CantwellTop Democrat: 'A lot of spin' coming from White House on infrastructure Biden officials pledge to confront cybersecurity challenges head-on Congress must act now to pass a bipartisan federal privacy law MORE (D-Wash.) called Chatterjee’s demotion “unjustified.”