Albert Henry Konetzni and Gregory Jaczko will serve on the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) after a deal was struck between the White House and opposition leaders.
Republican nominee Konetzni will serve for the remainder of a five-year term expiring on 30 June 2009, while controversial choice Jaczko, science advisor to Democratic senator and Yucca Mountain opponent Harry Reid, will hold a two-year term. It has been agreed that Jaczko will not vote on matters concerning Yucca during his first year.
A deal was necessary to break the impasse caused by senators’ insistence on questioning nominees before they are approved for their posts. The roadblock was holding up some 172 personnel changes the White House wanted to make following George Bush's reelection. Even after the deal, 15 Republican senators have made public their strong wish to question Jaczko.
US law limits Jaczko’s term to two years as his nomination has come during Congress’ recess period. Law also dictates that three of the five NRC members must be from the same political party as the president.
Retired vice admiral Konetzni has been tipped to become the commission’s chair next year when the position’s current holder, Nils Diaz steps down.