|00:00:01||MR. BINGAMAN: MADAM PRESIDENT, I WANTED TO TALK ABOUT ANOTHER SUBJECT, AND THAT IS THE FIVE OF THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH NOMINATIONS PENDING BEFORE THE SENATE TODAY.|
|00:00:15||JUST TO PUT THIS IN CONTEXT, EVERY DAY WHEN THE SENATE IS IN SESSION, ONE OF THE DOCUMENTS THAT IS PUT ON EVERY DESK HERE IN THE SENATE CHAMBER IS WHAT'S CALLED THE EXECUTIVE CALENDAR.|
|00:00:26||AND THE EXECUTIVE CALENDAR IS A LISTING OF ALL OF THE NOMINATIONS THAT HAVE BEEN REPORTED BY THE VARIOUS COMMITTEES OF THE SENATE FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE FULL SENATE.|
|00:00:38||AND THESE ARE OF COURSE NOMINATIONS THAT THE PRESIDENT HAS MADE AND ASKED THE SENATE TO AGREE WITH.|
|00:00:50||SO THERE IS USUALLY A LIST OF THESE EXECUTIVE NOMINATIONS.|
|00:00:54||I'VE BECOME PARTICULARLY CONCERNED IN RECENT WEEKS THAT THIS LIST HAS GROWN AND GROWN AND GROWN.|
|00:01:00||AND IN FACT, THERE ARE NOW 79 APPOINTMENTS THAT THE PRESIDENT HAS MADE, NOMINATIONS THAT THE PRESIDENT HAS MADE THAT HAVE BEEN APPROVED BY THE VARIOUS COMMITTEES OF THE SENATE BUT HAVE NOT BEEN BROUGHT UP AND VOTED ON HERE IN THE SENATE ITSELF.|
|00:01:20||AND THAT, TO ME, IS A UNFORTUNATE RESULT AND ONE THAT WE NEED TO CONCERN OURSELVES WITH.|
|00:01:29||I WANT TO PARTICULARLY TALK ABOUT FIVE OF THESE NOMINATIONS FOR IMPORTANT OFFICES IN THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY.|
|00:01:36||WE HAVE THE SECRETARY OF ENERGY STEVEN CHU COMING BEFORE THE ENERGY COMMITTEE ON THURSDAY TO TALK ABOUT HIS, THE PRESIDENT'S PROPOSED BUDGET AS IT AFFECTS THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY IN THE UPCOMING YEAR.|
|00:01:52||AND THESE ARE NOMINATIONS FOR MANAGEMENT POSITIONS IN HIS DEPARTMENT, WHICH HE IS VERY MUCH IN FAVOR OF US MOVING AHEAD WITH.|
|00:02:02||EACH OF THESE OFFICES, THESE FIVE THAT I'M TALKING ABOUT HERE, HAS IMPORTANT RESPONSIBILITIES.|
|00:02:07||TOGETHER OF FIVE OF THEM MAKE UP A LARGE PART OF THE MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY.|
|00:02:15||A FREQUENT OBSERVATION THAT I HEAR ON THE SENATE FLOOR ABOUT ENERGY POLICY IN OUR COUNTRY IS THAT THE UNITED STATES NEEDS TO HAVE A -- QUOTE -- "ALL OF THE ABOVE APPROACH TO ENERGY.|
|00:02:32||" I DON'T KNOW HOW WE CAN EXECUTE A -- QUOTE -- "ALL-OF-THE-ABOVE STRATEGY FOR ENERGY" WHEN WE HAVE VACANCIES IN THE KEY GOVERNMENT OFFICES THAT OVERSEE.|
|00:02:45||FOSSIL ENERGY, NUCLEAR ENERGY, RENEWABLE ENERGY, ENERGY EFFICIENCY, SMALL AND MINORITY BUSINESS ACCESS TO ENERGY PROGRAMS.|
|00:02:55||AND WE HAVE A VACANCY IN THE LEGAL COUNSEL OFFICE FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY AS WELL.|
|00:03:02||THE PRESIDENT HAS NOMINATED FIVE OUTSTANDING INDIVIDUALS TO FILL THESE ALL OF THE ABOVE ENERGY POSTS.|
|00:03:11||AND OUR COMMITTEE, THE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE, HELD HEARINGS ON EACH OF THE NOMINEES, HAS EXAMINED THEIR QUALIFICATIONS.|
|00:03:20||AND I'M PLEASED TO REPORT THAT THE COMMITTEE REPORTED ALL FIVE OF THESE NOMINEES UNANIMOUSLY, RECOMMENDING TO THE FULL SENATE THAT WE APPROVE THEM.|
|00:03:31||THE M -- THE MOST SENIOR OF THE FIVE POSITIONS IS IN THE OFFICE OF THE UNDER SECRETARY OF ENERGY.|
|00:03:40||THE UNDER SECRETARY'S RESPONSIBILITIES INCLUDE ENERGY EFFICIENCY, RENEWABLE ENERGY, FOSSIL ENERGY, NUCLEAR ENERGY AND ELECTRICITY.|
|00:03:49||THIS POSITION HAS BEEN VACANT FOR NEARLY A YEAR AND A HALF.|
|00:03:55||THE PRESIDENT'S NOMINATED DR.|
|00:04:00||ARUM MAJUMDAR TO THIS IMPORTANT POST.|
|00:04:04||HE IS CURRENTLY THE DIRECTOR OF THE ADVANCED RESEARCH PROJECTS AGENCY LOCATED AT THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY.|
|00:04:10||THE SENATE CONFIRMED DR.|
|00:04:14||MAJUMDAR TO THE POSITION HE NOW HOLDS AT ARPA-E AS THE DIRECTOR OF ARPA-E IN OCTOBER OF 2009.|
|00:04:23||HE IS CURRENTLY SERVING AS THE UNDER SECRETARY ON AN ACTING BASIS AND SERVING AS SECRETARY TO THE SENIOR ADVISOR.|
|00:04:34||DR. MAJUMDAR IS A HIGHLY DISTINGUISHED SCIENTIST AND ENGINEER.|
|00:04:37||BEFORE HE CAME TO WASHINGTON, HE WAS THE ASSOCIATE LABORATORY DIRECTOR FOR ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT AT LAWRENCE BERKELEY NATIONAL LABORATORY.|
|00:04:44||HE WAS A PROFESSOR OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING AND MATERIAL SCIENCES AND ENGINEERING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA-BERKELEY.|
|00:04:52||HE HOLDS A DOZEN PATENTS.|
|00:04:54||HE'S AUTHORED CLOSE TO 200 J.|
|00:04:59||F.K. JR. PAPERS.|
|00:05:00||HE HAS SERVED AS AN ADVISOR TO BOTH THE NATIONAL SCIENCES FOUNDATION AND THE PRESIDENT'S COUNCIL OF ADVISORS ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY AS WELL AS START-UP COMPANIES AND VENTURE CAPITAL FIRMS IN SILICON VALLEY.|
|00:05:15||HE HOLDS A DOCTORATE FROM U.|
|00:05:18||C.-BERKELEY AND HE IS A MEMBER OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING.|
|00:05:20||SO IT'S CLEAR TO ANYONE WHO LOOKS AT HIS QUALIFICATIONS THAT HE IS AN I AM GENTLY QUALIFIED SCIENTIST AND, FRANKLY, WE'RE VERY FORTUNATE TO HAVE SOMEONE OF HIS CALIBER WILLING TO SERVE AS THE UNDER SECRETARY OF ENERGY.|
|00:05:35||THE SECOND NOMINATION I WANT TO TALK ABOUT IS FOR THE GENERAL COUNSEL'S POSITION AT THE DEPARTMENT.|
|00:05:40||THIS IS, OF COURSE, THE DEPARTMENT'S TOP LEGAL OFFICER.|
|00:05:45||THIS POSITION HAS BEEN VACANT SINCE LAST MARCH, NEARLY A YEAR.|
|00:05:49||THE PRESIDENT HAS NOMINATED GREGORY WOODS TO BE THE GENERAL COUNSEL.|
|00:05:54||MR. WOODS IS CURRENTLY THE DEPUTY GENERAL COUNSEL IN THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION.|
|00:05:59||HE WAS PREVIOUSLY A PARTNER IN A NEW YORK LAW FIRM.|
|00:06:02||HE WAS A TRIAL LAWYER IN THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE BEFORE THAT.|
|00:06:07||THE THIRD OFFICE THAT I WANT TO SPEAK ABOUT IS THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR FOSSIL ENERGY.|
|00:06:14||THIS IMPORTANT OFFICE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS THAT COVER COAL, OIL AND NATURAL GAS, AND IT'S A POSITION THAT HAS BEEN VACANT FOR OVER A YEAR.|
|00:06:27||THE PRESIDENT HAS NOMINATED CHARLES MCCONNELL TO BE THE NEXT ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR FOSSIL ENERGY.|
|00:06:34||MR. MCCONNELL IS CURRENTLY THE CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER OF THE OFFICE OF FOSSIL ENERGY.|
|00:06:39||BEFORE COMING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY, HE SPENT TWO YEARS AS A VICE PRESIDENT AT PATELL ENERGY TECHNOLOGY AND 31 YEARS BEFORE THAT AT PRAXAI RELIEF, INC, A FORTUNE 300 COMPANY THAT PRODUCES INDUSTRIAL GASES.|
|00:06:59||THE FOURTH VACANT OFFICE I WANT TO SPEAK BRIEFLY ABOUT IS THAT OF THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND RENEWABLE ENERGY.|
|00:07:07||THIS OFFICE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR PROGRAMS DESIGNED TO INCREASE THE PRODUCTION AND USE OF SOLAR AND WIND AND GEOTHERMAL AND BIOMASS AND HYDROGEN AND ETHANOL FUELS.|
|00:07:20||AND FOR IMPROVING ENERGY EFFICIENCY IN THE TRANSPORTATION AND BUILDING AND INDUSTRIAL AND UTILITY SECTORS AND FOR ADMINISTERING PROGRAMS THAT PROVIDE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO STATE ENERGY PROGRAMS AND WEATHERIZATION FOR LOW-INCOME HOUSING.|
|00:07:37||FOR THIS POSITION, THE PRESIDENT HAS NOMINATED DR.|
|00:07:43||DANIELSON IS CURRENTLY A PROGRAM DIRECTOR AT ARPA-E.|
|00:07:47||BEFORE THAT, HE WAS A CLEAN ENERGY VENTURE CAPITALIST, SPECIALIZING IN FINANCING OF SOLAR AND WIND AND BIOFUELS AND CARBON CAPTURE AND STORAGE AND ADVANCED LIGHTING PROJECTS.|
|00:08:00||HE HOLDS A DOCTORATE IN MATERIAL SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING FROM M.|
|00:08:05||I.T. THE FIFTH AND FINAL OFFICE I WANT TO MENTION IS THAT OF THE DIRECTOR OF MINORITY ECONOMIC IMPACT, WHICH IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ADVISING THE SECRETARY ON THE EFFECTS OF ENERGY POLICIES ON MINORITY BUSINESS ENTERPRISES AND EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS AND COMMUNITIES AND ON WAYS TO ENSURE THAT MINORITIES ARE AFFORDED AN OPPORTUNITY TO PARTICIPATE FULLY IN THE DEPARTMENT'S PROGRAMS.|
|00:08:29||THIS POSITION HAS BEEN VACANT FOR NEARLY TWO YEARS.|
|00:08:34||THE PRESIDENT'S NOMINATED LADORIS HARRIS TO HEAD THE OFFICE.|
|00:08:38||MISS HARRIS IS CURRENTLY THE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF JABO INDUSTRIES, A MINORITY WOMAN-OWNED MANAGEMENT CONSULTING FIRM THAT SPECIALIZES IN ENERGY AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND THE -- IN THE HEALTH CARE INDUSTRY.|
|00:08:55||SHE HAS PREVIOUSLY BEEN AN EXECUTIVE WITH THE GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY AND HAS HELD EXECUTIVE AND MANAGEMENT POSITIONS AT A.|
|00:09:04||B.B. AND AT WESTINGHOUSE BEFORE THAT.|
|00:09:07||MADAM PRESIDENT, ALL FIVE OF THESE NOMINEES ARE OUTSTANDING INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE ESPECIALLY WELL QUALIFIED FOR THE POSITIONS FOR WHICH THEY HAVE BEEN NOMINATED.|
|00:09:18||THESE ARE IMPORTANT POSITIONS.|
|00:09:21||THEY NEED TO BE FILLED.|
|00:09:23||ALL FIVE NOMINATIONS WERE UNANIMOUSLY REPORTED, AS I INDICATED BEFORE, BY OUR ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE THIS LAST FALL.|
|00:09:30||FOUR OF THEM HAVE BEEN ON THE CALENDAR, THE SENATE'S CALENDAR HERE SINCE NOVEMBER 10.|
|00:09:39||THE FIFTH WAS ADDED ON DECEMBER 15.|
|00:09:42||I'M NOT AWARE OF A SINGLE OBJECTION THAT HAS BEEN RAISED -- ANY OBJECTION BY ANY -- ON ANY SUBSTANTIVE BASIS FOR ANY ONE OF THESE, AND IN MY VIEW, THEY ALL DESERVE TO BE CONFIRMED AND SECRETARY CHU DESERVES TO HAVE THEM CONFIRMED SO THAT HE CAN IMPLEMENT THE POLICIES AND THE LAWS THAT WE ARE ENACTING IN A RESPONSIBLE WAY.|
|00:10:08||MADAM PRESIDENT, I WILL ASK NOW FOR CONSENT TO GO AHEAD AND APPROVE THESE NOMINEES AND SEE IF WE CAN GET AT LEAST THIS FIVE OUT OF THE 79 THAT ARE ON THE EXECUTIVE CALENDAR APPROVED, AND HOPEFULLY THAT WILL ALLOW SENATORS TO SEE THAT THERE IS A WAY TO GET SOME OF THESE OTHER EXECUTIVE NOMINEES APPROVED AS WELL.|
|00:10:34||SO I WOULD ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT THE SENATE PROCEED TO EXECUTIVE SESSION TO CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING NOMINATIONS -- CALENDAR NUMBERS 493, 494, 495, 496 AND 527.|
|00:10:50||THAT THE NOMINATIONS BE CONFIRMED EN BLOC, THE MOTIONS TO RECONSIDER BE CONSIDERED MADE AND LAID UPON THE TABLE WITH NO INTERVENING ACTION OR DEBATE, THAT NO FURTHER MOTIONS BE IN ORDER TO ANY OF THE NOMINATIONS, THAT ANY RELATED STATEMENTS BE PRINTED IN THE RECORD AND THAT THE PRESIDENT BE IMMEDIATELY NOTIFIED OF THE SENATE'S ACTION, AND THE SENATE THEN RESUME LEGISLATIVE SESSION.|
Mr. BINGAMAN. Madam President, I want to talk about another subject; that is, five of the executive branch nominations that are pending before the Senate today.
To put this in context, every day when the Senate is in session, one of the documents that is put on every desk here in the Senate Chamber is what is called the Executive Calendar. The Executive Calendar is a listing of all the nominations that have been reported by the various committees of the Senate for consideration by the full Senate. These are, of course, nominations that the President has made and asks the Senate to agree with. So there is usually a list of these executive nominations.
I have become particularly concerned in recent weeks that this list has grown and grown and grown. In fact, there are now 79 appointments that the President has made, nominations that the President has made, that have been approved by the various committees of the Senate but have not been brought up and voted on here in the Senate itself.
That, to me, is an unfortunate result and one with which we need to concern ourselves.
I want to particularly talk about five of these nominations for important offices in the Department of Energy. We have Secretary of Energy Steven Chu coming before the Energy Committee on Thursday to talk about the President's proposed budget as it affects the Department of Energy in the upcoming year. These are nominations for management positions in his Department, he is very much in favor of us moving ahead.
Each of these offices--these five I am talking about here--has important responsibilities. Together, the five of them make up a large part of the management structure of the Department of Energy.
A frequent observation I hear on the Senate floor about energy policy in our country is that the United States needs to have an ``all of the above'' approach to energy. I do not know how we can execute an ``all of the above'' strategy for energy when we have vacancies in the key government offices that oversee fossil energy, nuclear energy, renewable energy, energy efficiency, small and minority business access to energy programs, and we have a vacancy in the legal counsel office for the Department of Energy as well.
The President has nominated five outstanding individuals to fill these ``all of the above'' energy posts. Our committee, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, held hearings on each of the nominees, has examined their qualifications, and I am pleased to report that the committee reported all five of these nominees unanimously, recommending to the full Senate that we approve them.
The most senior of the five positions is the office of the Under Secretary of Energy. The Under Secretary's responsibilities include energy efficiency, renewable energy, fossil energy, nuclear energy, and electricity. This position has been vacant for nearly a year and a half. The President has nominated Dr. Arun Majumdar to this important post. Dr. Majumdar is currently the Director of ARPA-E, the Advanced Research Projects Agency located at the Department of Energy.
The Senate confirmed Dr. Majumdar to the position he now holds at ARPA-E as the Director of ARPA-E in October of 2009. He is currently serving as the Under Secretary on an acting basis, and serving as Secretary Chu's senior adviser.
Dr. Majumdar is a highly distinguished scientist and engineer. Before he came to Washington, he was the associate laboratory director for Energy and Environment at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He was a professor of mechanical engineering and materials sciences and engineering at The University of California at Berkeley. He holds a dozen patents. He has authored close to 200 scientific papers. He has served as an adviser to both the National Science Foundation and the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, as well as startup companies and venture capital firms in Silicon Valley. He holds a doctorate from UC Berkeley, and he is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.
So it is clear to anyone who looks at his qualifications that he is an eminently qualified scientist, and, frankly, we are very fortunate to have someone of his caliber willing to serve as the Under Secretary of Energy.
The second nomination I want to talk about is for the general counsel's position at the Department. This is, of course, the Department's top legal officer. This position has been vacant since last March--nearly a year. The President has nominated Gregory Woods to be the general counsel. Mr. Woods is currently the deputy general [Page: S604] counsel in the Department of Transportation. He was previously a partner in a New York law firm. He was a trial lawyer in the Department of Justice before that.
The third office I want to speak about is the Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy. This important office is responsible for research and development programs that cover coal, oil, and natural gas. It is a position that has been vacant for over a year.
The President has nominated Charles McConnell to be the next Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy. Mr. McConnell is currently the Chief Operating Officer of the Office of Fossil Energy. Before coming to the Department of Energy, he spent 2 years as a vice president at Battelle Energy Technology and 31 years before that at Praxair, Inc., a Fortune 500 company that produces industrial gases.
The fourth vacant office I want to speak briefly about is that of the Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. This office is responsible for programs designed to increase the production and use of solar and wind and geothermal and biomass and hydrogen and ethanol fuels, for improving energy efficiency in the transportation and building and industrial and utility sectors, and for administering programs that provide financial assistance to State energy programs and weatherization for low-income housing.
For this position, the President has nominated Dr. David Danielson. Dr. Danielson is currently a program director at ARPA-E. Before that he was a clean energy venture capitalist specializing in financing of solar and wind and biofuels and carbon capture and storage and advanced lighting projects. He holds a doctorate in material science and engineering from MIT.
The fifth and final office I want to mention is that of the Director of Minority Economic Impact, which is responsible for advising the Secretary on the effects of energy policies on minority business enterprises and educational institutions and communities and on ways to ensure that minorities are afforded an opportunity to participate fully in the Department's programs. This position has been vacant for nearly 2 years.
The President has nominated LaDoris Harris to head the office. Ms. Harris is currently the president and chief executive officer of Jabo Industries, a minority-woman-owned management consulting firm that specializes in energy and information technology and the health care industry. She has previously been an executive with General Electric and has held executive and management positions at ABB and at Westinghouse before that.
All five of these nominees are outstanding individuals who are especially well-qualified for the positions for which they have been nominated. These are important positions. They need to be filled. All five nominations were unanimously reported, as I indicated before, by our Energy and Natural Resources Committee this last fall. Four of them have been on the calendar--the Senate's Executive Calendar--since November 10. The fifth was added on December 15.
I am not aware of a single objection that has been raised--any objection on any substantive basis for any one of these. In my view, they all deserve to be confirmed, and Secretary Chu deserves to have them confirmed so that he can implement the policies and the laws we are enacting in a responsible way.
I will ask consent now to go ahead and approve these nominees and see if we can get at least these 5 out of the 79 who are on the Executive Calendar approved. Hopefully, that will allow Senators to see that there is a way to get some of these executive nominees approved as well.
I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed to executive session to consider the following nominations: Calendar Nos. 493, 494, 495, 496, and 527; that the nominations be confirmed en bloc; the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no interviewing action or debate; that no further motions be in order to any of the nominations; that any related statements be printed in the RECORD; and that the President be immediately notified of the Senate's action, and the Senate then resume legislative session.