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Public Statements

Executive Session

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CARPER. Mr. President, I am honored and privileged to stand here today and to say good words on behalf of Ernest Jay Moniz, also known as Dr. Moniz and Ernie Moniz. He is one of my favorite people from the world of academia. I have in my hand a bio of him that I will read out loud. It is not very long, and it is worth listening to.

Dr. Ernest J. Moniz is the Cecil and Ida Green professor of physics and engineering systems at MIT. His research at MIT, where he has served on the faculty since 1973, has focused on energy technology and policy.

Dr. Moniz also serves as the director of MIT's Energy Initiative and the MIT Laboratory for Energy and the Environment.

From 1997 until 2001, Dr. Moniz served as Under Secretary of the Department of Energy. Prior to that time, he served as Associate Director for Science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President from 1995 until 1997.

In addition to his work at MIT and the Department of Energy, Dr. Moniz has served on any number of boards and commissions, including the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology from 2009 until today, the Department of Defense Threat Reduction Advisory Committee from 2010 until today, and on the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future from 2010 to 2012.

Dr. Moniz is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Humboldt Foundation, and the American Physical Society. In 1998 he received the Seymour Cray HPCC Recognition Award for vision and leadership in advancing scientific simulation.

Dr. Moniz received a bachelor of science degree summa cum laude in physics from Boston College and a doctorate in theoretical physics from Stanford University.

I have been privileged to know this man for a number of years. Our oldest son was an undergraduate in mechanical engineering at MIT and graduated a few years ago.

I remember holding a field hearing at MIT--gosh, about a half dozen or so years ago--and Dr. Moniz was one of our witnesses. Among the things I liked about him is that he was so approachable. We have all heard the term ``good guy.'' He is a really good guy.

Sometimes we think of somebody as a professor in an ivy tower and kind of out of touch, unable to communicate and connect with people. He could not be more different from that caricature. He is a real person, not to mention a very smart person. As a professor, he is able to explain complex concepts of nuclear energy and clean coal so that even I can understand what he is saying.

He has a wonderful sense of humor. If you happen to be a young person or an older person, Democratic or Republican, he just works so well with everybody. He is smart as a whip. He has a great way about him. He is approachable and has a very can-do attitude. I think the President made a great choice.

I say to Ernie and his family, I appreciate his willingness to serve in a lot of capacities and his willingness now to serve in this capacity. Hopefully, it will be good for him, his life, and his family. I think it certainly is going to be good for our country, so we appreciate that.

I say to my colleagues who have not had a chance to get to know him, I think everyone is going to like him a lot and enjoy working with him. I know I certainly have.

I also wish to discuss something I touched on earlier this week. I stood here just this week talking about the Swiss cheese we have in the executive branch of our Federal Government. There are too many positions that don't have someone confirmed for those positions.

In some cases, the administration has been derelict in terms of sending us nominations because they spend forever vetting nominations because they don't want to send someone to us who has a flaw or a blemish. As a result, I think they spend entirely too much time vetting nominees. In some cases, even when a nominee's name gets here, even if they are really good and well qualified, we delay those nominations further. Whether it is a Democratic or Republican President, we put the nominees through--not torture but something pretty close to it.

We need good people to be willing to serve. When they step up and are willing to serve, we need to process and vet those nominations. We need to scrub them hard, but at the end of the day we need to move them forward.

In the Environment and Public Works Committee, we took a small but important step with the President's nominee Regina McCarthy to be the Administrator for the Environment Protection Agency. She is enormously well qualified. She has already been confirmed by the Senate for the air pollution side for the EPA and has done a very nice job.

Although she has been nominated by a Democratic President, in the past she served with five Republican Governors. She is smart, hard-working, she has great credentials, and she is approachable. She is somebody who is able to understand and explain things. She will do a great job.

We have had a hard time being able to move her nomination out of the Environment and Public Works Committee. Today we were joined by our Republican colleagues. Unfortunately, none of them voted to report her nomination out of committee. We have reported her out on a straight party-line vote.

My hope is that we will have an opportunity to do what we did a number of years ago--about 7 or 8 years ago. Mike Leavitt, the former Governor of Utah, was nominated to be the head of EPA. There was some delay in his nomination.

We actually had a big markup and business meeting scheduled to consider his nomination, and the Democrats boycotted that meeting. We waited a couple of weeks. At a followup meeting, the Democrats showed up, and we reported him out with Democratic support. Later, we voted for his nomination. It was a big bipartisan vote. I think there were 70 or 80 votes in favor of his nomination.

My hope is that is what we will do with Gina McCarthy. She deserves a vote, and from my perspective she deserves a positive, affirmative vote.

We have Ernie Moniz coming our way later this afternoon in about 40 minutes. I hope my colleagues will join me and give him a big vote so we can send him to work for our country one more time.

With that, I yield the floor.


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