McConnell, Reid spar on status of nuclear appointee
Mr. Reid’s characterization of Ms. Svinicki is disputed by other Democrats, several of whom have publicly backed Ms. Svinicki. One Democratic senator, Thomas R. Carper of Delaware, has called her “a valued member of the commission,” and another has circulated a letter of support for her renomination behind the scenes.
Naming the minority party’s picks has been a long-standing courtesy, but it is not a rule. Indeed, Mr. Bush stressed that the Constitution gave him final say in all appointments, and Democrats said it’s perfectly fair for Mr. Obama to adopt the same standard.
The White House took an aloof stance Wednesday.
“The administration agrees that we need a strong NRC, and that will continue to be a priority,” spokesman Clark Stevens said. “Whenever a nomination is made, it should be considered expeditiously to make sure there is no break in June.”
Michael McKenna, a Republican energy strategist who has been pushing Ms. Svinicki’s nomination, said her case stands out because there is a Democratic nominee to a similar board, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, whose appointment also expires in June but who the White House moved quickly to resubmit.
Ms. Svinicki is on a trip to Africa that the Obama administration asked her to take, to talk about nuclear safety and uranium mining.
Mr. McKenna said he expects Republicans will insist on a vote for Ms. Svinicki, both to defend the independence of these kinds of commission selections and to fight back against what they say is an overbearing chairman.
“This is going to be the most important fight we have on the personnel front this year,” Mr. McKenna said.
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