FERC nominees slide to the December agenda

Source: By Jeremy Dillon and Geof Koss, E&E News reporters • Posted: Monday, October 5, 2020

A pair of pending nominations to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will need to wait until December for an uphill chance at confirmation before the Senate wraps up its session.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said in an interview that her committee would work to advance the two nominees but warned that an already crowded December calendar may make the prospects of them moving to the floor difficult to predict.

“It is something that I have consistently said: FERC has a lot of work, and we want to make sure that they’ve got the people, the commissioners that they need to do the work,” Murkowski told E&E News last week.

“And so how we’re able to move them out in a way before the end of the year when — who knows what the lame-duck session is going to look like — gets a little more complicated,” she added.

The ENR Committee held a largely noncontroversial confirmation hearing for the pair of nominees — Democrat Allison Clements and Republican Mark Christie — last month (E&E Daily, Sept. 17).

The White House named the two in a surprise July announcement amid lingering questions about whether the president would address the FERC vacancies before the elections.

Follow-up questions from lawmakers and an uncertain Senate schedule mean a committee vote on Christie and Clements is yet to be scheduled.

“And then you look at the calendar, and according to our calendar, we’re supposed to be kind of done by now, so we haven’t scheduled anything and don’t anticipate that we would schedule anything until after the elections in a lame-duck period,” said Murkowski.

The Senate is focused on judicial nominations and the Supreme Court pick before the elections, and the lame-duck session will focus on spending and defense legislation and other last-minute priorities.

That could leave FERC with three commissioners for the rest of 2020 and heading into 2021, just enough to secure a quorum.