Entry for April 04, 2007

Cover art from September 2006 report on Susan Dudley by OMB Watch and Public Citizen.

Would there be more recess appointments from Bush, while Congress is away for the Easter break? OMB Watch and The Raw Story both shared a short Wall Street Journal article by Henry Pulizzi, “Bush Will Bypass Senate To Fill Top Regulatory Post ” (page A6, preview here, sub required) about Susan Dudley’s probable recess appointment to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) at the Office of Management and Budget. Dudley previously served as head of George Mason’s anti-regulatory Mercatus Center.

But the LA Times ran staff writer Judy Pasternak’s (email) much more detailed story April 1, “Bush again pushes 3 nominees seen as pro-industry: The president could skirt the Senate by using recess appointments.” The three all have

ties to industries that face costly Environmental Protection Agency restrictions, and all three have previously bypassed or questioned the EPA’s scientific process.

They are William Wehrum, who would head the air office of the EPA; Alex A. Beehler, chosen to be the EPA’s inspector general; and Susan Dudley, who would become White House regulations chief.

Interestingly, the Washington Post’s Al Kamen wrote in today’s In The Loop column,

Chairman Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) “is moving forward in the traditional manner with her nomination,” committee spokeswoman Leslie Phillips told our colleague Stephen Barr.

President Bush named Dudley to the OMB post last August, and her confirmation hearing was held in November. The Senate adjourned without voting on her nomination, which the White House later resubmitted.

While in confirmation limbo, she has been serving as counselor to Clay Johnson III, a presidential buddy and the deputy director for management at the OMB.

Before her first nomination, Dudley wrote about regulation for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, and her critics assailed her comments involving air bags, arsenic limits in drinking water and workplace injuries.

*

Sure enough, the announcement came from the White House that Bush has recess “intends” appoint Dudley. No word yet on Wehrum and Beehler. Bush also recess-appointed

  • Andrew G. Biggs to be Deputy Commissioner of Social Security . According to his bio at the conservative Cato Institute, Biggs is a former Social Security analyst and Assistant Director of its Project on Social Security Choice. Prior to joining Cato he was Director of Research at the Republican lobbyist-heavy Congressional Institute in Washington, D.C. (where he remains a Fellow) and investigated in 2005, while Assistant Commissioner for the SS Administration concerning whether he violated a federal ban on congressional lobbying by federal employees when he edited the prepared testimony for a lobbyist appearing before a recent Democratic Policy Committee Social Security hearing according to Joe Stanton writing in Congress Daily.
  • Carol Waller Pope, of the District of Columbia, to be a Member of the Federal Labor Relations Authority. this is a reappointment and pope is a Democrat.

OMB Watch issued a news release urging Congress to exercise oversight to prevent attempts to dismantle public protections. Rick Melberth, its Director of Regulatory Policy said,

Dudley’s record is one of anti-regulatory extremism,” said at OMB Watch. “She has opposed some of our nation’s most basic environmental, workplace safety and public health protections.

At a time when the American people are growing more frustrated with back-room, special interest dealings at the White House, Bush has bypassed the transparency afforded by the Senate confirmation process.

The group explained:

OIRA is a powerful office responsible for reviewing and approving federal agencies’ most significant regulations. Installing Dudley threatens decades of public health and safety protections; doing so by recess appointment endangers our democratic process. …

Dudley has falsely proclaimed ground-level ozone to be beneficial, opposed ergonomic standards to protect workers from repetitive stress disorders, and even suggested that airbags should never have been mandated in automobiles.

The kinds of rollbacks Dudley may push forward could render useless valuable federal laws that have saved countless American lives. OMB Watch and Public Citizen documented Dudley’s anti-regulatory views in a September 2006 report, The Cost Is Too High: How Susan Dudley Threatens Public Protections.

Dudley’s strong ties with the industries she will be regulating pose an obvious conflict of interest. For the three years before her nomination, Dudley directed the Regulatory Studies program at the Mercatus Center ��� an industry-funded, anti-regulatory think tank. It is likely that industry executives will have unprecedented access to Dudley, while concerned citizens will be increasingly shut out. ..

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Worked on Sourcewwatch articles on Congressional Insitute and Susan Dudley.

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