- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 14, 2009

SUPREME COURT

Senators expect nomination soon

Senate leaders, after meeting with President Obama on Wednesday, said they expect he will soon announce his nominee for the Supreme Court.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, noted that the average time from a presidential nomination to a Senate hearing was about 60 days and said he thinks the Senate will meet that expectation.

“If we can do it quicker than that, we’ll do it,” said Mr. Reid after emerging from the 40-minute, bipartisan West Wing meeting with the president.



Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, promised a “real debate and real hearing.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the committee and minority point man on the nomination, said he hopes for a “unifying” pick, but noted that Mr. Obama as a senator opposed the nominations of both Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said that unless Mr. Obama chooses a “very controversial” nominee, the process will allow for a new justice to be seated “well in advance” of the next high court session, which begins Oct. 5.

The four leaders said Mr. Obama did not suggest potential nominees to the group during the private meeting.

WHITE HOUSE

Reid ally to be NRC chairman

White House officials have informed Congress that a former adviser to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, will serve as the next chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, giving opponents of a nuclear-waste repository in Nevada another well-placed ally.

Gregory B. Jaczko has served on the five-member commission since January 2005, and, as chairman, will become its official spokesman. The appointment does not require Senate confirmation.

The chairman also serves as the NRC’s chief executive, overseeing day-to-day operations as well as long-range planning.

Four years ago, the nuclear-power industry fought Mr. Jaczko’s nomination to the commission. It did so because he worked for Mr. Reid, who has pledged to kill a proposed nuclear-waste repository at Yucca Mountain. Now, Mr. Jaczko will serve as the industry’s primary regulator.

Mr. Jaczko was Mr. Reid’s appropriations director and top science-policy adviser before he joined the commission.

Mr. Reid also has the support of President Obama in canceling the Yucca Mountain repository.

COMMENCEMENT

Clinton cites perils in world

NEW YORK | Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton urged college graduates Wednesday to resist the temptation to disengage from world affairs, saying to do so would “cede the field to those whose ideologies are absolutely anathema to people of conscience and faith all over the world.”

Delivering New York University’s commencement address, Mrs. Clinton acknowledged the turbulent national and global environment that graduates face, but said their education, energy and facility with new technology would help them navigate and improve the world.

She cited the perils of climate change, disease and global nuclear proliferation and warned the audience to take those challenges seriously.

“At the root of my conviction is a strong sense of reality. We don’t have a choice,” Mrs. Clinton said. “We can sit on the sidelines, we can wring our hands, we can retreat into cynicism, and we know what the result will be.”

The NYU ceremonies were held under sunny skies on the infield of the new Yankee Stadium.

SENATE

GOP blocks Interior nominee

Republicans have blocked President Obama’s pick for the No. 2 job at the Interior Department because of a flap over oil leases in Utah.

In a 57-39 Senate vote, Democrats fell short of the 60 votes they would have needed to advance the nominee past Republican obstacles. It’s the first time Republicans have blocked an Obama selection.

David Hayes is an environmental lawyer picked by Mr. Obama to serve in Interior’s No. 2 spot. Mr. Hayes held the same post during the last three years of the Clinton administration.

Sen. Robert F. Bennett led Republican opposition to Mr. Hayes’ nomination after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar canceled oil and gas leases in Mr. Bennett’s home state of Utah.

STATE DEPARTMENT

Clinton to visit Central America

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced Wednesday that she will visit El Salvador and Honduras in early June.

“I will be traveling to the region again later this month to attend the inauguration of the president-elect in El Salvador … and to attend the OAS general assembly in Honduras,” Mrs. Clinton said.

The inauguration of El Salvador’s president-elect, Mauricio Funes, is set for June 1, while the Organization of American States ministerial meeting is scheduled for June 2-3 in San Pedro Sula.

This will be Mrs. Clinton’s third trip to Latin America since she became chief U.S. diplomat in January. She traveled to Mexico at the end of March before visiting Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago last month.

She accompanied President Obama for the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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