Senate committee postpones nomination votes for OPM director, deputy

A Senate committee is putting off a vote to move forward on three key nominations.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee was scheduled to vote Wednesday morning on the nominations for both the director and deputy director of the Office of Personnel Management, but the vote has been postponed indefinitely.

“At this time, the committee cannot proceed to a vote on the nominations of OPM director and deputy director until OPM complies with the chairman’s request for documents related to the development of OPM’s regulation that exempted members of Congress from Obamacare,” a committee spokeswoman wrote in an email to Federal News Radio.

Jeff Pon and Michael Rigas, President Donald Trump’s picks to be OPM director and deputy director, respectively, were set to receive votes from the Senate committee. It was also supposed to clear the nomination for Emily Murphy, the president’s nominee to be the administrator of the General Services Administration, according to committee’s Wednesday meeting agenda.

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None of the three nominees can get a full Senate confirmation vote until the the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approves their nominations. A new date and time for the vote hasn’t been scheduled yet.

Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) had threatened to put a hold on Pon’s nomination during last week’s hearing. He said he’s waited for four years for OPM to produce all documents related to the agency’s 2013 ruling on a special exemption to the Affordable Care Act for members of Congress and their staff members.

“Unless I’m satisfied that that’s being done in good faith [and] I’m going to get all the documentation, no offense to you, I’ll be holding up your nomination,” Johnson said, during last week’s nomination hearing.

Pon said last week that he took Johnson’s concerns seriously and promised to keep him informed of any status updates along the way.

“OPM is continuing to respond to the chairman’s request in a timely manner,” an agency spokesman wrote in an email.

Johnson revived this issue in August, after he brought forth the same issue during former acting OPM Director Beth Cobert’s own nomination hearing in February 2016. Cobert, at the time, made similar promises to comply with the Senate’s request, but the chamber ultimately never confirmed her to a permanent position.

Johnson filed a federal lawsuit in 2014 against the Obama administration challenging OPM’s rule, arguing the agency’s rule “exempt[s] members of Congress and their staff from the full effects of the Affordable Care Act.” The lawsuit was dismissed for a lack of standing.

A few weeks ago, he also threatened to subpoena OPM for the proper documents.