Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Sen. Lisa Murkowski said her committee won't take up President Trump's latest batch of energy nominations, sent to her committee Wednesday night, until after the August recess, despite earlier statements that it could happen sooner.
On top of that, the Republican from Alaska has not rescheduled votes on six other nominees for the interior and energy departments. Those committee votes were postponed last week during the healthcare debate. Murkowski had vowed to move Trump's nominations through the committee process during the extended August work schedule, which now doesn't look like it will extend past Friday.
The committee announced Thursday that a hearing will be held Sept. 7 to consider the nominations of Joseph Balash to be assistant secretary of the interior for minerals management, while taking up Richard Glick's nomination to be a Democratic member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Kevin McIntyre to be its Republican chairman. Both nominees were sent by the White House to the Senate on Wednesday evening for consideration.
The commission members are probably the most pressing to move through the confirmation process because the energy agency lacks a quorum, meaning it has essentially been shut down since February. The Senate energy committee advanced two Republican commissioners in June, but the Senate has had delays in moving their nominations for a final vote.
Industry groups are champing at the bit to see the quorum restored as soon as possible. Some said they hoped to see the Republican commissioners confirmed on the floor as soon as Thursday. Utility companies told the Senate leadership this week that billions of dollars in energy infrastructure development have been sidelined because the commission is not in full working order.
This is the first time in the agency's 40-year history that it had to shutter operations due to a lack of members, the industry pointed out. FERC requires at least three of its five members to be in place to perform its approvals and oversight of the electric grid and natural gas markets. The five members include two Republicans and two Democrats, with the chairman holding the same party affiliation as the president.
Democrats in the Senate are said to be holding up floor votes on the two GOP nominees, Neill Chatterjee and Robert Powelson.