DorobekINSIDER: GSA will have to wait until at least Thursday for any Johnson action

It was thought that Tuesday might be GSA V-Day — as in Vote Day where the Senate would move along Martha Johnson’s long delayed nomination to be the administrator of the General Services Administration. But the phrase “so close yet so far” seems to be apt at this point.

We found out Tuesday evening that it was unlikely that the Senate would vote on the Johnson nomination.

Instead, the Senate spent most of the day debating the nomination of Patricia Smith to be the Labor Department solicitor. Smith’s nomination is controversial because she is accused of lying to lawmakers.

Because both the Smith and Johnson nomination have been held, Senate lawmakers have to take two votes for these nominations. The first is the vote on the cloture motion — technically, as I understand it, when a Senator puts a “hold” on a nomination, the nomination is open for debate. The cloture vote simply closes debate. And then it would all senators to move to the YES or NO vote for the confirmation. And the Senate has yet to complete work on Smith’s nomination before moving on to the Johnson cloture vote and, eventually, the actual confirmation vote.

Unlike Smith’s more controversial nomination, there haven’t been any questions about Johnson’s qualifications. To the contrary, most people have praised her qualifications and skills.

That being said, the Senate is now saying that action on Johnson’s nomination will not come until Thursday:

Johnson Nomination–Agreement: A unanimous-consent-time agreement was reached providing that on Thursday, February 4, 2010, upon disposition of the nomination of M. Patricia Smith, of New York, to be Solicitor for the Department of Labor, Senate resume consideration of the nomination of Martha N. Johnson, of Maryland, to be Administrator of General Services, and that there be two hours of debate prior to a vote on the motion to invoke cloture thereon; with the time equally divided and controlled between the two Leaders, or their designees ; that upon the use of time, Senate vote on the motion to invoke cloture thereon; that if cloture is invoked, all post-cloture time be yielded back, and Senate then vote on confirmation of the nomination.

Of course, Johnson’s vote has been held up by Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) over a federal building in Kansas City.

Just last week, Bond again took GSA to task over the Kansas City federal building. This story is from Kansas City Star reporter Kevin Collison from just last week — January 28:

Bond blasts agency over plans for federal offices in downtown KC [January 28, 2010, Kansas City Star]

Sen. Kit Bond continues to battle a Washington official over a proposed federal office building for downtown Kansas City.

City officials remain confident the $175 million project is on track. But in a letter this week, Bond, a Missouri Republican, accused Robert Peck, the public building service commissioner for the federal General Services Administration, of failing to follow through on a promise to put funds in the 2011 budget.

The proposal, which would consolidate about 1,200 federal workers now at the Bannister Federal Complex into a new downtown building, has been in the works for several years.

It originally was proposed to be a private development, where the GSA would lease the space and the building would generate local taxes. But Peck said in October his office would support the plan only if it was built and owned by the government.

The story goes on to say that Bond and Peck were to meet sometime this week.

Read the full story here.

Back in August, we spoke with Kansas City Star reporter Kevin Collison on Federal News Radio 1500 AM’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris for background on the federal building deal. Get more here.

We are on full Johnson watch and we’ll let you know what happens.


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