Morning Briefing - February 13, 2019
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February 13, 2019

NNSA No. 2 Nominee Still in Holding Pattern in Senate Committee

By ExchangeMonitor

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Senate Armed Services Committee still has the nominee for the No. 2 spot at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) in a holding pattern, the nominee himself said here Tuesday.

After his nomination lapsed in the 115th Congress, which ended Jan. 3, the Donald Trump administration again nominated former Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory physicist William Bookless to be principal deputy administrator for the semiautonomous Department of Energy agency in Washington, D.C.

Bookless, attending the ExchangeMonitor’s annual Nuclear Deterrence Summit here, told Weapons Complex Morning Briefing that the committee must again approve his nomination before the full Senate can muster for the vote that would actually install him at NNSA headquarters.

Bookless added that he has not yet been asked back for another nomination hearing. The Senate Armed Services Committee already had Bookless up to Capitol Hill for a mostly cordial — but sometimes confrontational — nomination hearing in November. Less than a month later, the panel voted unanimously to send him on for a floor vote that never happened.

Any nominee for an executive post that the Senate does not approve in one meeting of Congress must repeat the nomination process in the next meeting, according to Senate rules. 

At deadline Monday, the committee had not scheduled Bookless for a vote. A spokesperson for the panel did not immediately reply to a request for comment. The Senate Armed Services Committee has yet to consider any nominees in the 116th Congress.

If confirmed for the job Trump renominated him for on Jan. 16, Bookless will fill the last of four senior NNSA leadership position that require congressional approval. The others are: NNSA administrator; deputy administrator for defense programs; and deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation. Half of those jobs will be filled by former Livermore hands, if the Senate confirms Bookless.