Senate confirms two energy commission nominees, restoring quorum

The Senate voted Thursday evening to confirm two of President Trump’s nominees to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), paving the way for the commission to have its first quorum in six months.

Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson were confirmed by unanimous consent and are slated to join the five-member board, which has seen its action paused since February following a pair of retirements.

FERC is responsible for permitting decisions on energy projects like natural gas pipelines and export terminals. The lack of a quorum has left FERC unable to move such projects forward, inaction that has lead to frustration in the energy, manufacturing and business communities.

Neither Chatterjee nor Powelson were considered controversial picks. Chatterjee is an energy aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellOvernight Finance: Trump signs Russia sanctions bill, rips Congress | Trump plan would cut legal immigration | Senate confirms labor board pick | House Budget chair running for governor | Regulator takes step to change ‘Volcker Rule’ House Dem on Statue of Liberty: ‘She persisted’ Senate GOP eyes end to August session MORE (R-Ky.), and Powelson is a Pennsylvania utilities regulator.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee advanced both their nominations in June on 20-3 votes. Democrats, though, have been hesitant to bring their nominations to the floor for confirmation votes until they were assured a Democratic nominee would receive a vote, as well.

The White House filed paperwork for Democrat Richard Glick’s nomination on Wednesday. Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiMcCain expects to return to Senate next month McCain: Arizona was about to get ‘screwed’ by GOP healthcare plan Trump, GOP senators unveil measure to cut legal immigration MORE (R-Alaska) announced Thursday she would hold a September hearing for Glick’s nomination and that of Kevin McIntrye, whom Trump has picked to be chair of the commission.

Democrat Cheryl LaFleur is the only current member of FERC. Former Commissioner Colette Honorable and former Chairman Norman Bay left the commission earlier this year.

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