As reported in the Washington Post:
Republican Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, a former veterinarian who criticized pet evacuation efforts after Hurricane Katrina, is blocking the promotion of a Coast Guard vice admiral who headed the hurricane recovery.Reading this, you might think the questions had to do with Admiral Allen's handling of the "rescue of companion animals." Right. Pets.
President Bush nominated Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen to be commandant of the Coast Guard in January. It was approved on a voice vote last week by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
Allen was put in charge of Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts in September after the Bush administration pulled then-FEMA director Michael Brown off the job.
Jack Finn, a spokesman for Ensign, refused Monday to say why the senator is blocking Allen's confirmation by the full Senate.
"We have some questions we want to have answered and we anticipate having them answered before too long," Finn said.
Ensign visited the Gulf Coast in late September, a month after Katrina hit, and met with Allen to press him to better coordinate animal rescue efforts. He said that in addition to concerns about the animals' welfare, abandoned pets could cause a public health risk.
Under Senate procedures, any senator can block a vote on a confirmation or a piece of legislation by raising an objection. That objection can be overcome with 60 votes in the 100-member Senate.
Well, that's not exactly what the questions are about. It seems the Senator -- who sits on the committee which handles the nomination for the Coast Guard... and who didn't attend Admiral Allen's confirmation hearing -- blocked the nomination and sent six pages of questions to Admiral Allen to answer. None of them had to do with his role as PFO; none of them had to do with pets; none of them had to do with the Coast Guard.
Senator Ensign does not sit on the Senate's committee which oversees the Department, and, thus, FEMA. He can't pose questions about DHS in that committee's venue. But, he figured out how to pose the questions in the venue he does sit.
All the questions have to do with FEMA and their internal policies; you know, things like how they spend their money or hire people or whatever.
So, Admiral Allen (well, the CG) sent the questions over to FEMA; FEMA answered the questions sent it all back to the CG who forwarded the responses to the Senator. He didn't like the answers and said the responses weren't good enough; his office demanded the CG's evaluation of FEMA's responses.
Yup. You read that right. So, Admiral Collins made comments, and Admiral Allen made comments, and the attorneys took a cut, and now the 25-plus page document is at the White House for review before it is forwarded to the Senator's office.
So, here's the long and the short of it, at least as the Muse sees it: Admiral Allen's nomination -- the CG's move forward (more on that to come) is being held up by a Nevada senator who has a grudge to pick with FEMA.
You might wonder how I know all this; let's just say I have it on good authority (and in future post it will become aboundantly clear).