President Trump appointed a Republican to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday after restoring the quorum at the independent grid watchdog.
Neil Chatterjee, a top GOP energy adviser, was made the new FERC chairman soon after another Republican, Robert Powelson, was sworn in as FERC commissioner. He will replace Democratic acting Chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur, who Trump put in that position right before former President Barack Obama's chairman appointee resigned, which left the panel without at least three commissioners required to run the regulatory body.
The White House announced the appointment of Chatterjee, who was an energy policy adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, on Thursday afternoon.
Both Chatterjee and Powelson were confirmed by the Senate in one of the chamber's final actions before it left Washington for a month-long August recess.
FERC now has three members, but ultimately it will have five members. The remaining two nominees will be ushered through the confirmation process beginning Sept. 7. David McIntyre, one of the two nominees, is slated to become chairman of FERC once he is confirmed.
FERC is made up of equal members of Democrats and Republicans, with the chairman holding the same political affiliation as the president.
The commission oversees the nation's interstate electric grid as well as the siting of natural gas and related pipeline and infrastructure development. The agency is seen as key to Trump's "Energy Dominance" agenda but is an independent commission that is expected to be immune from taking orders directly from the White House.
A FERC spokeswoman Thursday had no comment on the restoration of the quorum nor the appointment of Chatterjee to the chairman post.