With the recent controversy surrounding a nominee for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), it’s now clear that energy nominees are not immune to the challenges of the nominations process. The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) recently added energy-specific departments to its nominations tracker. BPC’s interactive tracker allows users to view the status of energy and environment (as well as financial regulatory) agency nominees dating back to the Clinton administration by searching for nominee name, agency, or position.
Although the Obama administration has touted recent gridlock and partisan politics as a significant factor for delayed votes on nominees, delays in the nominations process are not a new trend. When looking at the nominees put forward by the Bush administration between 2001 and 2008, Senate inaction for some candidates was extensive. For instance, Joseph Timothy Kelliher’s nomination sat in the Senate for 554 days. However, longer delays are often due to presidential inaction. For example, it took President Obama 819 days to nominate Jon Wellinghoff to be a FERC commissioner.
The Clinton administration also experienced delays moving candidates through the Senate. During the second term of his presidency, there were periods lasting up to 100 days before a nominee was presented and then confirmed to the Senate. However, the process was speedier in comparison to the Bush and Obama administrations.
The data shows that, over the course of three administrations, nominees for single-headed agencies, such as the Department of the Interior, Department of Energy, or EPA, faced less waiting time overall in comparison to commission-led agencies such as FERC or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Ultimately, one of the biggest factors in confirming nominees comes down to party politics. But regardless of who holds the majority, the nominations process continues to move more slowly with each Congress. The delays candidates face adversely affect the ability of agencies to perform to their fullest capacities and to better serve the interests and needs of the American people.
Stay tuned to this tracker for updates on energy and environment nominees.