No Hold

Posted October 10, 2003 at 4:51pm

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has removed his blanket hold on all of President Bush’s executive branch nominees, now that the White House has agreed to nominate his top science staffer for a seat on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. [IMGCAP(1)]

The White House initially rejected Greg Jaczko, the Nevadan’s appropriations director, for a seat on the commission, prompting Reid to trigger the hold. But a deal struck by Reid and the White House during last week’s Senate recess paves the way for Jaczko and Vice Adm. John Grossenbacher, the Republican nominee, to be approved for seats on the NRC before Congress adjourns.

By cutting a deal with Reid, the White House has removed one major obstacle in its effort to convince the Senate to approve Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt (R) to be the next Environmental Protection Agency administrator.

Several Democratic Senators maintain holds on Leavitt for various reasons, and Democratic members of the Environment and Public Works Committee prevented the panel from achieving a quorum last month to vote on Leavitt’s nomination.

Hoping to report Leavitt out of committee quickly, Environment and Public Works Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) has scheduled three consecutive hearings this week during which a vote on his nomination could occur if a quorum is present.

While Reid has lifted his hold on all of the White House’s executive nominees, he continues to stand with a majority of Democrats who have blocked a handful of Bush’s picks for the federal bench.

Statuary Slight? Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) introduced legislation last week that would make space for the District of Columbia in Statuary Hall.

Under the original 1864 legislation creating the collection, each state is allowed to donate two statues to Congress for display in the Capitol; however, that bill does not include the District.

Norton’s bill, co-sponsored by House Government Reform Chairman Tom Davis (R-Va.), would permit the city to donate statues for two honorees.

“It goes without saying that the almost 600,000 American citizens who live in the nation’s capital deserve the honor of having two of its history makers represented in the halls of the nation’s Capitol just as citizens who live in the 50 states have long enjoyed,” said Norton, who previously introduced the bill in the 107th Congress.

Norton is also pushing other legislation in her quest to attain equal recognition for the District, including a bill to create full Congressional representation and another that would mint a D.C. quarter similar to those now being minted for each state.

— Mark Preston and Jennifer Yachnin