The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee expressed frustration Wednesday at the Trump administration's slow response to the lack of a quorum on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that is stretching into its fourth month.
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Senate Energy Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski, Republican-Alaska, said she was "very frustrated" that no one has been nominated to fill the three vacant seats on the five-member commission. A fourth seat will open in June.
FERC has lacked a quorum since February 3, after the Trump administration pulled the chairmanship from the sitting Democrat, Norman Bay, prompting him to leave.
"I'd like to see some names now," Murkowski said at an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "It's very frustrating that we are here at May 3 and there hasn't been a quorum at FERC for months now.
"We can't do much of anything in the energy space until there is a functioning quorum at the FERC. First, we need to get names so that we can actually act as a committee. Believe me, I am urging anybody who will listen that they need to get moving on it."
Senator Maria Cantwell, Democrat-Washington, the Senate committee's ranking member, agreed with Murkowski: "I'll just say, 'Amen.'"
It has been widely reported that President Donald Trump intends to nominate Kevin McIntyre, Neil Chatterjee and Rob Powelson to the commission, restoring its quorum. Sources said the announcement of their nominations is pending completion of routine background checks.
The White House will need to find a fourth nominee after Commissioner Colette Honorable said Friday that she does not plan to seek another term when her current stint expires in June.
The nominees will need approval from Murkowski's committee before going before the full Senate for confirmation, a process that can take some time.
"The joke on FERC is, 'the nominees will be imminent,'" Murkowski said. "And I said, I have no idea who 'imminent' is, but just please send him or her quickly so we can confirm them."
--Meghan Gordon, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Edited by Jonathan Dart, email@example.com