Obama’s nominees aren’t only ones waiting

Al Kamen
Columnist April 30, 2012

There’s been much bleating and whining these days about how Senate Republicans are refusing to confirm President Obama’s nominees. But lost in all this is how the completely dysfunctional Senate is holding up Republican nominees as well.

Take, for example, outgoing Federal Labor Relations Authority member and former chairman Thomas M. Beck , who was nominated by Obama a while ago to be the Republican on the three-member National Mediation Board.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

By law, most of these alphabet boards — the NLRB, the FTC, the NTSB and so on — must, in effect, have members from both parties, with the White House getting to pick the tie-breaking member.

To help move these things along, nominees are generally moved in pairs — one R and one D — to make the vote more palatable for each side.

Even so, Beck is used to waiting for the Senate to act. It took him 462 days to be confirmed in 2008 for his current job, when a nasty fight between President George W. Bush and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid stalled him until the waning days of the administration. He was in the last batch of confirmees in that year.

This time, Beck had to wait eight months until “his” Democratic counterpart was nominated. Problem was, his Democrat was the current chairman of the NMB, Harry R. Hoglander, who was being tapped for a second term.

Hoglander had infuriated Republicans (and especially Delta Air Lines) when the board changed the rules on how labor-election votes are counted to make it easier for unions to organize.

So Hoglander stalled. And, therefore, so did Beck, whose tenure at the FLRA is over at the end of this year. Beck had been kept in limbo for a total of 589 days — likely a modern indoor record — when he asked Obama last week to withdraw the nomination. He’s now looking to work in private-sector health care at the end of the year.

Some guys have no patience.

Catching Up With . . .

Today’s installment of the regular Loop feature on newsmakers of yore stars former congressman Vito Fossella.

When last we saw him, back in May 2008, the New York Republican was on the House floor announcing that he would not run for another term.

The announcement followed a bizarre late-night drunken-driving arrest in Alexandria — after which we learned he had fathered a 3-year-old girl with a woman not his wife. His political career was over, the pundits said.

Not so fast.

We called the other day to see how he’s doing. The former five-term lawmaker from Staten Island, we’re happy to report, says he’s doing very well, thank you.

He’s a managing director at huge Loop Fan and former senator Alfonse M. D’Amato’s Park Strategies lobby shop in Manhattan. (It’s said to be one of the fastest-growing lobby outfits in the state.)

And he even remains so popular with fellow Islanders that the Staten Island Advance recently talked about Fossella jumping into the race — the primary is in June — for his old seat should the incumbent, Rep. Michael Grimm (R), falter as a result of allegations of illegal campaign contributions.

Alas, Fossella dashed our hopes — but maybe only for now.

“Not never,” he told us, “just not right now.” Maybe “down the road if anything were to change,” he added, “when opportunities present themselves . . . I wouldn’t shut the door.”

As for his Staten Island family — wife and three kids — he wouldn’t directly answer whether he and his wife are still together but said “everyone who is important to me is okay, and that is what matters most.”

He also declined to discuss the “other woman” and their daughter.

If you’re wondering how other erstwhile newsmakers are doing these days, send us your suggestions. You can use the comments section on our blog ­(washingtonpost.com/intheloop) or send us a tweet ­(@InTheLoopWP) or an e-mail (intheloop@washpost.com).

Dribs and drabs

The Senate is slowly confirming small batches of nominees, some of them pending on the Senate floor since last fall.

Last week it confirmed former Obama National Security Council chief of staff Mark Lippert as assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific affairs. Lippert left the White House in 2009 amidst much internal friction with James L. Jones , then Obama’s national security adviser.

The Senate also confirmed career Foreign Service officer Adam E. Namm to be ambassador to Ecuador, a country headed by a controversial president who’s been cozying up to some unsavory characters.

Two top Justice Department officials were confirmed: Michael E. Horowitz, a former prosecutor who worked in the Clinton and Bush Justice Departments, was confirmed as inspector general, and Kathryn Keneally, a highly regarded tax lawyer in private practice, to be assistant attorney general in charge of the tax division.

Also confirmed were Michael T. Scuse to be undersecretary of agriculture for farm and foreign agriculture services and Deborah S. Delisle to be assistant secretary of education for elementary and secondary education.

Meanwhile, the White House has nominated Washington lawyer, mega-bundler and frequent White House visitor Timothy Broas to be ambassador to the Netherlands. If confirmed by the Senate, he will replace Fay Hartog Levin, a Chicagoan and longtime Democratic fundraiser and activist, who left last year.

Richard Morningstar, who has held a number of foreign policy posts in recent years and is now a State Department special envoy for Eurasian energy, has been nominated as ambassador to Azerbaijan.[CBK this sentence] He would replace career Foreign Service officer Matthew J. Bryza, who got a recess appointment in late 2010.

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/intheloop. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

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