Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

By:  Mitch McConnell
Date: April 19, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

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SVINICKI NOMINATION

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, yesterday I came to the floor to call attention to a woman named Kristine Svinicki, a widely respected nuclear engineer who sits on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Federal agency charged with ensuring the safety of our Nation's nuclear powerplants. At the moment, Commissioner Svinicki is in Africa, sharing her expertise on nuclear safety at the request of the Obama administration, which should not surprise anybody, since she is one of the world's leading experts on the topic, and since President Obama's own Chief of Staff signed a letter a few months ago expressing the administration's confidence in her commitment to the mission of the NRC and her ability to fulfill it.

I have the letter. It is dated December 12. I ask unanimous consent that it be printed in the Record.

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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, what is surprising is that despite all of this, despite her expertise, despite the administration's own stated support for her work, she has not yet been renominated. The White House alone has the power to renominate. For some reason they have not. Look, the only possible reason for this delay is the fact that she had the courage to blow the whistle on the Commission's Chairman Gregory Jazcko, a guy whose temper and condescension toward subordinates, particularly women, nearly cost him his job.

So let's be clear about this. The only reason we are even talking about Kristine Svinicki right now is because she had the courage to stand up to a hostile work environment and the bully who was responsible for it. That is the only reason we are even having this conversation. She should be applauded for that, not hung out to dry.

Yet that is precisely what has been happening here. Commissioner Svinicki is one of the world's leading experts on nuclear safety. She was confirmed in her current term without a single dissenting vote--not one. She enjoys the respect of her colleagues and, as the letter I just cited shows, of the Obama administration as well. Her renomination papers were completed more than a year ago, as was the FBI report that nominees have to complete ahead of being confirmed.

If this nomination continues to be held, after she had the courage to take a stand, it will send a chill up the spine of every whistleblower in Washington. Commissioner Svinicki spoke out against a guy that even Democratic commissioners say bullied employees and intimidated female workers. Kristine Svinicki did the right thing in raising the alarm. She should not pay a price for it. The White House says it likes the job she is doing. They sent her to Africa to give a keynote address on nuclear safety. Yet for over a year there has been silence. It is my hope they are not rewarding abusive behavior by silencing someone who had the courage to speak out. There is no reason for this renomination and reconfirmation to wait another single day.

If Democrats have a problem with Commissioner Svinicki, then let's debate it.

This morning, I renew my call for the White House to send this nomination over immediately and for the Senate to act quickly to get Commissioner Svinicki reconfirmed. The White House said just yesterday there should be no interruption in service on the Commission, so why don't we get this done.

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