Leavitt Confirmed

Posted October 28, 2003 at 6:12pm

The Senate voted Tuesday to confirm Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt (R) to be the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. [IMGCAP(1)]

Leavitt’s nomination had been on hold for several weeks, as Democrats sought to use it to express displeasure over President Bush’s environmental policies. Several Democrats, including three Senators seeking their party’s presidential nomination, threatened to filibuster Leavitt’s nomination until the White House answered questions on a number of environmental issues.

The holds were dropped Monday after it was apparent that Republicans had the 60 votes needed to overcome the filibusters. The final vote was 88-8.

Democratic presidential hopefuls Sens. John Edwards (N.C.), John Kerry (Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (Conn.) missed the vote.

The Utah governor replaces former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R), who resigned from the post earlier this year.

Emergency Communications. Rep. James Langevin (D-R.I.) sent out a “Dear Colleague” letter last week seeking co-sponsors on his bill to ensure Congressional operations through technology in a time of crisis.

While noting that “Congress has failed to act on important issues related to ensuring the continuity of government,” he thinks the institution “should be examining how best to ensure Congressional operations within existing House rules, notably the role that technology can play in ensuring continuity.”

His bill, H.R. 2948, would enlist the Government Accounting Office, the National Academy of Sciences and the Library of Congress to study how best to create a secure emergency communications system to be used in the event that Congress cannot meet in a single location.

“While the House has made significant advances in this area, we still lag behind certain government agencies and the private sector in our ability to communicate and deliberate in the event of a catastrophe,” Langevin wrote.

— Mark Preston and Suzanne Nelson