Today, just after President Obama sent Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner Kristine Svinicki's re-nomination papers to the Senate, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, sent a letter with all seven EPW Republicans to Senator Boxer, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, asking her to move Commissioner Svinicki's re-nomination through the committee as soon as possible. Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), David Vitter (R-LA), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Mike Johanns (R-NE), and John Boozman (R-AR) joined Senator Inhofe on the letter.
Commissioner Svinicki's term is set to expire at the end of June so the Senate must act expeditiously to ensure that the NRC maintains its full commission.
Senator Inhofe: "I was pleased today that President Obama officially re-nominated Kristine Svinicki to serve another term at the NRC; but time is running out before her term expires so the Senate must act immediately. If she is to have a hearing it would have to be before the Memorial Day recess to get it done in time. However, Chairman Jaczko was able to proceed directly to his confirmation vote without a hearing so that is another possibility now that time is of the essence. I hope we can come to an agreement that assures urgent action on this matter, especially given that the White House has said we need an NRC that is 'functioning effectively' and that the President doesn't want a 'break in service.'"
Senator Barrasso: "Commissioner Svinicki's confirmation process should now be one of the fastest in recent history. She has the support of President Obama, votes from a majority of the Senate and an outstanding record at the NRC. Chairman Boxer should ensure Commissioner Svinicki is quickly confirmed so that the NRC can continue to protect the American people."
Senator Sessions: "I am pleased that President Obama has finally sent the Senate the nomination paperwork for Commissioner Kristine Svinicki-an immensely qualified and capable public servant with a proven track record of excellent service on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Her extensive background in nuclear issues and public policy has served her well in this important position. With the President's support, I see no reason why the Senate should not move quickly to confirm Commissioner Svinicki for a new term on the commission before her current term expires at the end of June."
Full Text of Letter
May 8, 2012
The Honorable Barbara Boxer
Committee on Environment and Public Works
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Chairman Boxer,
We, the undersigned members of the Environment and Public Works Committee, respectfully request that you work with us to advance President Obama's re-nomination of Commissioner Kristine Svinicki to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) through the confirmation process in an expedited manner.
Under your leadership, the committee has continued the practice of quickly acting on Presidential nominations. We recognize that you have expressed reservations about Commissioner Svinicki's re-nomination but also know that you share our concern that the public is best served with a fully functioning Commission. As the President's spokesman, Jay Carney, stated recently: "The president believes we need to have an NRC that is functioning effectively, and that is why ... the president will re-nominate Ms. Svinicki, because he doesn't want to have a break in service in June when her current term expires." We agree that Commissioner Svinicki's Senate confirmation process should be concluded as soon as possible, certainly before June 30th.
Commissioner Svinicki's qualifications are stellar. Time and time again, she has proven that she is a qualified, responsible, and fair regulator. Prior to her time with the NRC, she had many years of experience on Capitol Hill, serving as staff of the Armed Services Committee. She is an engineer and civil servant and has drawn praise from both Democrats and Republicans. Her voting record at the NRC demonstrates that she is a sensible and objective policymaker with a strong dedication to safety and her collaboration with her colleagues at the Commission displays an admirable capacity to produce bipartisan results. Commissioner Svinicki's perspective was essential as the Commission finalized its review of the Vogtle and Summer nuclear plants, the first two new nuclear plant licenses in over 30 years.
Commissioner Svinicki's term ends June 30, 2012 and, given the scope of issues before the Commission, a lapse would create an unenviable void in critical nuclear safety knowledge on the Commission. Five years ago, Commissioner Svinicki was confirmed by this committee, and in the Senate, by unanimous consent - and we understand her re-nomination has wide bi-partisan support.
Allowing politics to impede the confirmation of a distinguished member of the Commission is not only undesirable, but it is an evasion of our constitutionally mandated duties. One of the most important obligations each Senator holds is the responsibility to offer advice and provide consent to the President's nominations. Instability at an independent agency responsible for public health and safety increases the perception of regulatory risk.
Now that the President has expressed his support in re-nominating Commissioner Svinicki, we urge you to proceed expeditiously with the confirmation process so that the NRC is able to continue its critically important work.