Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, who will become Democratic leader in the next Congress, won a battle of wills in the lame-duck session by getting his science adviser, Gregory Jaczko, a seat on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) without being confirmed by the Senate.
Jaczko, a 34-year-old physicist, like Reid opposes the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada. With Jaczko opposed by the nuclear industry and nearly all Republican senators, Reid in retaliation held up dozens of President Bush's nominations in the lame-duck session.
Reid released his hold after the White House agreed to put Jaczko on the NRC with a recess nomination made when Congress is not in session. That will not please Sen. James Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, who refused to give Jaczko a hearing. According to administration sources, Yucca Mountain will not be taken up during the first of Jaczko's two years on the NRC.
Sen. Lincoln Chafee, who declared he was not voting for George W. Bush's re-election and considered leaving the Republican Party, may face trouble in Rhode Island's 2006 GOP primary.
Chafee's conduct upset Rhode Island Republicans, who may support Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey in a possible Senate bid. Laffey, who describes himself as a populist and is more conservative than Chafee, won re-election by a landslide in heavily Democratic Cranston after cleaning up its finances.
Independent voters, comprising about half of Rhode Island's electorate, can vote in the Republican primary to save Chafee. But many will be attracted to a multi-candidate Democratic contest to oppose conservative Republican Gov. Donald Carcieri.