WASHINGTON – The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, led by Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., Wednesday overwhelmingly approved the nomination of Jim Nussle to be the next Director of the Office of Management and Budget and reported out a bill that would bring more competition and accountability to the management of over $400 billion in federal contracts every year.

At a business meeting called to consider several bills and nominations, Committee members reported Nussle, former Republican congressman from Iowa and chairman of the House Budget Committee between 2001 and 2006, with a vote of 9-0 and one senator voting “present.”

The Senate Budget Committee, which has joint jurisdiction over Nussle’s nomination, now has 30 days to report the nomination before it will automatically be sent to the full Senate.

“The job qualifications of the next OMB Director must extend beyond technical and fiscal expertise into the arena of diplomacy, negotiation, and consensus,” Lieberman said. “Working cooperatively with Congress to find budget compromises that best serve the American people is probably the most important responsibility of the OMB Director.

“I hope that he will use the full measure of his skills to help bring the budget and appropriations process to a satisfactory conclusion for the sake of the nation,” Lieberman said. “The stakes are too high – both at home and abroad – for this process to devolve into recriminations and potential government shutdowns.”

Senator Collins said, “Congressman Nussle’s congressional service, particularly as chairman of the House Budget Committee, has given him a solid understanding of the budget, the legislative process, and the importance of good relations between the Executive Branch and Congress. Close cooperation will be essential as we address the enormous budget deficit, and as we confront the looming structural deficit born of Baby Boom demographics and unfunded entitlement obligations. Finding a mix of fiscal policies that will honor commitments and meet vital needs without throttling economic growth will be a huge challenge.”

The Committee also reported out the nomination of Dennis R. Schrader to be Deputy Administrator for National Preparedness within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) by a voice vote.

Also approved was the Accountability in Government Contracting Act of 2007, S. 680, co-sponsored by Lieberman and Collins. The bill addresses problems associated with a rapid growth in the value and numbers of contracts awarded, including a frequent lack of competition in awarding contracts, insufficient federal oversight of those contracts, and too little transparency in the procurement process. It was reported out of Committee by a voice vote.

The Committee reported out by voice vote H.R.1254, the Presidential Library Donation Reform Act of 2007 and a bill proposed by Sen. Landrieu, D-La., to provide for the flexibility of certain disaster relief funds, and for improved evacuation and sheltering during disasters and catastrophes. The National Capital Transportation Amendments Act of 2007 was reported favorably by a vote of 10-2.

Approved en bloc were:

S.547, Effective Homeland Security Management Act of 2007;
S.1245, a bill to reform mutual aid agreements for the National Capital Region;
S.597, a bill to extend the special postage stamp for breast cancer research for two years; and
Several post office naming bills