Update on the Senate hold on confirming Holdren and Lubchenco


Today we learned from CQ Politics and E&E News (subsc.) that there are other (anonymous) Senators in addition to Robert Menendez of New Jersey who have placed a “hold” on the Senate confirmation of Drs. Holdren to head OSTP and Lubchenco to run NOAA.  Yesterday other groups joined in the effort to whip up grassroots activism—- e.g., Climate Progress, and the National Council on Science and the Environment (NCSE)—and now the word is that his office is being flooded with calls and letters.  This is a good start, but this new intel means that it’s now time to direct these appeals straight to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who must break the logjam, and to as many other Senators as possible, especially those who serve on the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, chaired by Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV). 

post by Anne Polansky

(See our March 3 post: Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) delays confirmation of John Holdren and Jane Lubchenco.)

In this post, Science in the Senate: It’s Not Just Menendez; Full Court Press Badly Needed. Mike Dunford notes the CQ Politics article and points out that if these multiple holds are to be released sooner than later (every day counts here), then more grassroots action is needed: 

If we want the Senate to take action on these nominations, we are going to have to take steps to make sure that they know that this is not an issue that will stay hidden in the shadows. To put it bluntly, we’re going to have to raise so much hell that taking action becomes the less painful option for the Senate leadership.

He’s right on target, and so is his prescription for action:

Here’s what we need to do:

1. We need to bring as much pressure from as many sources as possible.

If you work with other scientists, bring this issue to their attention. Get them to get involved, too. If you’ve got colleagues at other institutions, pass the word to them. We’ve all got a stake in this.

If you’re a member of a scientific society, bring this to their attention and ask them to take a stand. In particular, contact AAAS. Leschner’s remarks in the CQ article are a good start, but it doesn’t look like they’ve taken an official stand. Yet. Advocacy is part of their job. Ask them to advocate, and to help spread the word.

The AAAS executive office phone number is 202-326-6640.

If you are involved with other advocacy organizations, such as ScienceDebate2008, get in touch with them, and ask them to put the word out to their membership.

2. Contact the Senate Leadership.
The Senate can, if they so choose, bring the matter to the floor despite the holds. Reid has disregarded holds in the past. Ask him to disregard these holds, too. Remind him of the importance of filling these positions, particularly now that the stimulus has passed. Remind him, too, of the importance of the positions in general.

If you contacted him yesterday, do it again today.

[CSW UPDATE:  We read in today’s Environment and Energy Daily (subscription) that:  “A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) declined to comment on whether there is a plan to move forward or when the Senate might approve the nominees.”  When this reporter asked Sen. Rockefeller what the holds were about, he responded with “Beats me,” and commented on the impeccable qualifications of the nominees.  The more sunlight that shines on this, the better.] 

Here’s the contact information, including the email form and the Nevada address of one of his Nevada offices:
Email (web form)
DC Phone Number: 202-224-3542
Nevada address and phone:
600 East William St, #302
Carson City, NV 89701
Phone: 775-882-REID (7343)
Fax: 775-883-1980

3. We need to put this issue in front of as many Senators as possible.
Contact your own Senators. Tell them that this is an important issue, and that these nominees deserve a floor vote as soon as possible. Again, if you contacted them yesterday, contact them again today. If you’re a registered voter, make sure you tell them that. If you donated any money to their campaign, make sure that you tell them that, too.

It would be especially good to contact the Senators who are on the Commerce Committee, since they are the ones who had the opportunity to question the nominees during the hearing. I’ll put a list of the committee members below the jump, so you can check and see if one of your Senators is on the committee.

4. We need to keep pressure on Senator Menendez. None of the other Senators who have holds on the nomination have been identified, so he’s still the only one we know (or at least strongly suspect) is blocking progress.

I posted contact information for Menendez yesterday. If you use the email form to contact him, be aware that non-NJ addresses probably don’t receive much attention. (There are NJ addresses for the Senator’s NJ offices in yesterday’s post, but I would of course never stoop to suggesting that people substitute those addresses for their own.) If you emailed him yesterday, email him today AND make a phone call. The number for his DC office is 202.224.4744. If you DIDN’T contact him yesterday, contact him today.

We need to make this happen. We need a coherent and coordinated national science policy right now. We also need to make sure that the new resources that science has received are allocated as wisely as possible. These things need to happen now, but they cannot happen at all if these positions remain unfilled.

Please find a few minutes today to make a few phone calls and send a few emails. This is important.


If you live in any of the states represented by the following Senators on the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, by all means, drop them a line or give them a call.  All contact information can be found by going to http://www.senate.gov and clicking on SENATORS on the top bar. 

Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Members:


Chairman John D. Rockefeller, IV (WV)
Daniel K. Inouye (HI)
John F. Kerry (MA)
Byron L. Dorgan (ND)
Barbara Boxer (CA)
Bill Nelson (FL)
Maria Cantwell (WA)
Frank R. Lautenberg (NJ)
Mark Pryor (AR)
Claire McCaskill (MO)
Amy Klobuchar (MN)
Tom Udall (NM)
Mark Warner (VA)
Mark Begich (AK)


Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX)
Olympia J. Snowe (ME)
John Ensign (NV)
Jim DeMint (SC)
John Thune (SD)
Roger Wicker (MS)
Johnny Isakson (GA)
David Vitter (LA)
Sam Brownback (KS)
Mel Martinez (FL)
Mike Johanns (NE)

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