As a high-ranking aide to the Republican majority of the Senate Banking Committee, Paul Freedenberg should have been confirmed easily by the Senate as an assistant secretary of commerce.
But two months after he was nominated by President Reagan, Freedenberg still hasn't won confirmation. The Banking Committee, which has partial jurisdiction over his new post as head of the Commerce Department's export control activities, quickly approved Freedenberg. For reasons not clear to his friends on Capitol Hill or to Commerce Department officials, however, the Finance Committee is sitting on the nomination.
It has nothing to do with Freedenberg's qualifications, committee aides said. They said the problem has been getting enough members to a meeting to approve him.
There is speculation in the Commerce Department and on Capitol Hill, though, that there is more to the delay than the problem of getting a quorum. Some aides speculated that it is part of a jurisdictional dispute between Finance Committee members and Sen. Jake Garn (R-Utah), chairman of the Banking Committee, over another nominee.
Freedenberg's confirmation hearing is set for the second week in December, which should get him to his new job before Christmas. Since being nominated in September, Freedenberg has been a consultant to the department.
The job he is seeking is held on an acting basis by William T. Archey, who has been known mainly for computerizing the process for issuing export licenses. Before Archey changed the archaic system, long delays in getting licenses had drawn strong complaints from businesses about lost orders.
As assistant secretary for trade administration, Freedenberg will move into a job dealing with the Export Administration Act, which he helped shape during the long period Congress debated it.
RODEO RIDER . . . Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige finished second in team roping at a rodeo in Harrisburg, Pa. He was described by aides as proud of his showing because the competition was sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Baldrige generally competes in pickup rodeos.
His winnings totaled $241.81.
PUBLIC AFFAIRS REORGANIZES . . . The Commerce Department is about to reorganize its public affairs operation by centralizing it under B. Jay Cooper, Baldrige's press secretary and the department's public affairs director.
Three associate directors will supervise the public affairs programs of the department's varied specialized agencies -- one each for trade functions, economic affairs and science-technology.
Cooper said the reorganization will save $1 million a year by cutting duplication and by better using people. The reorganization needs congressional approval, which is expected shortly.