WASHINGTON — The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, led by Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn. and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., Wednesday reported out the nominations of Robert M. Groves to be Census Director and Cass R. Sunstein to be Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), both by voice votes.
The Committee also approved The Enhanced Oversight of State and Local Economic Recovery Act, S. 1064; the Federal Firefighters Fairness Act of 2009, S. 599; three other nominations, including David Heyman to be Assistant Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; six other substantive bills and a series of postal naming bills, all by voice votes.
The Federal Firefighter Fairness Act would entitle federal firefighters who die from, or are disabled by, certain cancers and other diseases to compensation as if their death or disability was presumed to have been caused by employment. It brings the federal government in line with the forty-two states with laws that grant presumptive compensation to their fire fighters.
“This was a very productive business meeting and I thank my colleagues for their collegiality and willingness to work out our differences,” Lieberman said. “Cass Sunstein, Robert Groves, and David Heyman are brilliant men with exceptional qualifications and extraordinary talent, who represent the best and the brightest among public servants. I am also pleased that we were able to help states improve their transparency as they put their stimulus funds to work. Senator Collins and I introduced S.1064 in response to concerns expressed to us by state representatives at an April hearing on stimulus oversight that they are struggling to fund the planning, reporting and oversight tasks required by the Recovery Act.”
“Federal firefighters put their lives on the line each day to protect our nation’s most critical assets and infrastructure and these brave men and women deserve the same occupational safeguards and benefits as their colleagues at the local level,” said Collins. “This legislation would relieve Federal firefighters of an unnecessary obstacle to receiving the badly needed benefits that they deserve when they fall ill as a result of their inherently hazardous work environment.”
The Enhanced Oversight of State and Local Economic Recovery Act, S. 1064 would specify that states can use up to half a percent of funds appropriated under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) for administrative and oversight costs, allow states to take advantage of the federal competitive bidding process, and require OMB to provide definitions to guide reporting on jobs created and retained by stimulus programs. An amendment by Collins and Lieberman was adopted by the Committee to provide guidance, training, and tools to ensure states are able to take advantage of the competitive bidding process. Also adopted was an amendment by Senator Tom Coburn, R-Okla. as modified by a Lieberman amendment, requiring that information on federal awards made under the ARRA be included on USAspending.gov. The amendment does not expand the existing reporting requirements under the ARRA.
In other action, the Committee also approved:
• Marisa J. Demeo to be Associate Judge, Superior Court of the District of Columbia