Washington — The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission may be on the verge of regaining its quorum. In a move that bolsters prospects for fast floor action on two nominees to FERC that have stalled in the Senate, the White House late Wednesday sent over the formal nomination of the pick favored by Democrats, Richard Glick, general counsel to the minority on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
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President Trump had announced his intent to nominate Glick in late June, but a holdup on sending over his paperwork was complicating efforts to get agreement between the parties to clear for floor action the two nominees already advanced out of committee: Neil Chatterjee, a long-time energy staffer to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Robert Powelson, a Pennsylvania utilities commissioner.
Confirmation of Chatterjee and Powelson would bring the number of sitting commissioners to three, the minimum needed for FERC to conduct the bulk of its business.
Timing of action on FERC nominees has been very closely watched because the commission has been without a quorum for six months, and the timelines of a number of key infrastructure projects are hinging on approvals from the agency in the coming weeks.
Separately late Wednesday, the White House also formally nominated Kevin McIntyre, who heads the energy practice for Jones Day, for a seat on the commission. McIntyre, a Republican, is expected to be tapped as chairman.
The formal nominations of Glick and McIntyre bolstered hopes Wednesday evening that Chatterjee and Powelson could be voted out before the Senate recesses for its August break.
The action is "another sign that we may be able to thaw the freeze that has held a number of nominees at bay and held FERC at bay since the commission lost the quorum in February," said Frank Maisano, a senior principal at Bracewell.
There has been speculation that the formal nomination of Glick could allow FERC nominees to move with a package of other nominations. Key Senate leaders have been working to achieve a package of nominees before breaking for the August recess.
David Popp, a spokesman for McConnell, said he did not have any updates on whether FERC nominees would be part of that group, but confirmed that broader negotiations were underway between the Senate leaders. The Senate will be in session Thursday, he said.
Washington sources were anticipating that a vote on FERC nominees could come then.
--Maya Weber, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Edited by Lisa Miller, email@example.com
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