Commerce Secretary nominee Judd Gregg withdraws over ‘irresolvable conflicts’

February 12, 2009

(ChattahBox) — The first thing that comes to mind with this news is that it sure is hard to find a Commerce Secretary and is ‘irresolvable’ a real word? President Barack Obama’s cabinet selection process took a double hit after Senator Judd Gregg, a Republican, became the third of his cabinet nominees to withdraw. Not only did Obama have another Commerce Secretary withdraw but his plans to bring bipartisanship to Washington have suffered another major blow.

Last week Commerce Secretary nominee Bill Richardson pulled out after he was implicated in a corruption investigation, cited disagreements over the massive economic stimulus bill as a principal reason for his decision.

But this time the circumstances are a bit different.  Gregg, 61, is choosing to step aside for reasons of political principle, stating there were “irresolvable conflicts” over Mr Obama’s handling of the nearly $800 billion economic stimulus bill, expected to pass in both houses of Congress on Friday, and control of the 2010 census.

“We are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy,” Mr Gregg said in a statement. He said that “prior to accepting this post, we had discussed these and other potential differences, but unfortunately we did not adequately focus on these concerns”.

Clearly irritated by the surprise move, the White House sought to heap the blame on Mr Gregg. “He was very clear throughout the interviewing process that despite past disagreements about policies, he would support, embrace, and move forward with the President’s agenda,” Robert Gibbs, the press secretary, said in a terse statement.

“Once it became clear after his nomination that Senator Gregg was not going to be supporting some of President Obama’s key economic priorities, it became necessary for Senator Gregg and the Obama administration to part ways. We regret that he has had a change of heart”.

Mr Gregg said he had wrestled with the decision throughout the week and appeared willing to take the fall for it, going out of his way to praise Mr Obama. “It’s been very difficult,” he said. “The fault lies with me. I may have embarrassed myself but hopefully not him.”

What wasn’t mentioned but one wonders if it was a factor in Gregg’s decision is the Commerce Department and particularly the association has jurisdiction over the Census Bureau. The Obama administration recently took steps to assert greater control over the 2010 census. Republicans have harshly criticized the decision, charging it was an attempt to politicize the survey, taken every 10 years, possibly in an attempt to redraw congressional districts.


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