Morning Briefing - January 14, 2019
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January 14, 2019

Trump to Nominate Former ICBM Officer for DNFSB Spot

By ExchangeMonitor

Former Air Force Col. Thomas Summers will join the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB), if the Senate confirms the former ICBM oficer the Donald Trump administration intends to nominate.

The White House late Friday announced its intent to nominate Summers to the independent federal nuclear health-and-safety watchdog. Summers would finish the remainder of a five-year term set to expire Oct. 18, 2020, according to a White House press release.

Summers was formerly vice commander of the 91st Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. He was the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) assistant deputy for research development testing and evaluation for military application as recently as 2016 during the Barack Obama administration, according to an NNSA press release.

If confirmed quickly, Summers could bring the DNFSB back to its statutory maximum of five members. 

Board members serve five-year terms that expire exactly one year before the expiration of one other member’s term. Members may continue to serve after their terms expire, avoiding disruptions while the White House and the Senate vet and appoint replacements.

Summers would serve the remainder of a five-year term that would have been held by former DNFSB Chairman Sean Sullivan, who resigned in February 2018 after it leaked out he wanted Congress to eliminate the board.

Current DNFSB members are:

  • Joyce Connery
  • Bruce Hamilton, acting chairman
  • Jessie Hill Roberson
  • Daniel Santos

Hamilton, Roberson, and Santos are all serving on expired terms. Connery’s term expires Oct. 18, 2019.

In the 115th Congress, which ended Jan. 3, the Trump administration used the nomination process to attempt a broad reshaping of the DNFSB.

A series of nominations, if confirmed, would have pushed Santos off the board by moving Hamilton into his seat; backfilling Hamilton’s seat with new appointee and proposed vice chair Lisa Vickers, a Department of Energy site representative at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas; and reappointing Roberson to remain in her seat.

Those plans fell through when the 115th Congress adjourned; all nominations not acted on in a given Congress are returned to the White House at the start of a new Congress.

At deadline for Weapons Complex Morning Briefing, Trump had yet to set the DNFSB reshaping back in motion.