Gregg Voted to Kill Commerce
The Headline of the Day easily goes to CQ Politics‘ Jonathan Allen for “Gregg Voted to Kill Commerce Before He Agreed to Lead It.”
President Obama’s new candidate to run the Commerce Department voted in favor of abolishing the agency as a member of the Budget Committee and on the Senate floor in 1995.
Sen. Judd Gregg , R-N.H., whose nomination was expected to be announced Tuesday, also worked in the Senate to trim the department’s budget as head of the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Subcommittee.
Ultimately, the Commerce Department survived, and Gregg has since shown more interest than most of his Republican colleagues in funding some of its agencies, particularly the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Gregg also fought President Bill Clinton’s efforts to increase funding for the Commerce Department to administer the 2000 census. Indeed, Gregg’s commitment to basic functions of the department has been questioned at times. “ He was generally pretty harsh on them and not really interested in their programs, especially the commerce side of things,” said a Democratic appropriations aide.
It is not unprecedented for a lawmaker who supported abolishing a Cabinet department to take its helm. In 2001, the recently defeated Sen. Spencer Abraham, R-Mich., was confirmed to run the Energy Department even though he had once cosponsored legislation to eliminate it.
Still, even some Republicans are surprised by Gregg’s apparent enthusiasm for the job. “I guess if you can’t destroy it, go be in charge of it,” said a Senate Republican aide.
Indeed. And I’m not sure Spencer Abraham’s tenure as Energy Secretary is an exemplar.