Opening Statement of Ranking Member Carper: Business Meeting to vote on the Nominations of three individuals to fill offices within the Tennessee Valley Authority

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held the business meeting to vote on the Nominations of three individuals to fill offices within the Tennessee Valley Authority. Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.), as prepared for delivery:

“Good morning, everyone. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Today our committee is considering three individuals to fill offices at the Tennessee Valley Authority and 27 prospectus resolutions for the General Services Administration.

“As the nation’s largest public power system, TVA provides power to more than 9 million households across seven southern states and supports economic development in the Tennessee Valley.  In creating the nine-member Board of Directors for TVA, Congress aimed to ensure each board member would support the mission of TVA, including being a, quote, ‘national leader in technological innovation, low-cost power, and environmental stewardship.’

“I am pleased to support Dr. Brian Noland to be a Board Member, and believe his considerable experience will serve the TVA well. I have also decided to support Dr. Beth Harwell’s nomination to the TVA Board. I initially had concerns about her views on climate science. However, during a second private conversation last week, Dr. Harwell confirmed that she understood that climate change is real, that it is primarily caused by human activity, and that she is committed to advancing TVA’s leadership in producing low-carbon emission electricity for the residents of the Tennessee Valley. With that commitment, I will support her nomination.

“As for our nominee to be Inspector General of the Tennessee Valley Authority, Katherine Crytzer sadly, I find myself in the position of being unable to support her nomination. Within the past year, this Committee has unanimously voted in support of two well qualified Inspector General Nominees for the EPA and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  Both individuals had served almost two decades as non-partisan federal prosecutors. By contrast, Ms. Crytzer has only had three years of experience as a federal prosecutor. Ms. Crytzer’s most recent experience at the Department of Justice has been within the Office of Legal Policy, where she has worked in a far more political and ideologically driven capacity. This kind of work history is generally not appropriate for an Inspector General nominee, since what the role requires is someone who is free from political bias.

“At no time in our nation’s history has the need for independent Inspectors General been so profound. Over the past several months, the President has unceremoniously removed, reassigned or undermined Inspectors General who have dared to conduct oversight on the President and his administration.

“The President fired the Intelligence Community Inspector General for lawfully informing Congress about the existence of the Ukraine whistleblower complaint. He replaced the HHS Inspector General for issuing a report on health supply shortages during the ongoing pandemic. He fired the State Department Inspector General for investigating the administration’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia and Secretary Pompeo’s use of government staff to do personal errands. The President also replaced the Defense Department’s Acting Inspector General to prevent him from serving as Chair of the Pandemic Response Oversight Committee.

“It is in this context that we are considering Ms. Crytzer’s nomination. Unfortunately, in her confirmation process, Ms. Crytzer has failed to demonstrate that she will serve independently of President Trump.  During and after her hearing, Ms. Crytzer failed to answer simple questions about whether the President’s statements and actions directed towards existing Inspectors General were appropriate. She would not state that it is wrong for a President to fire an IG simply because the IG was conducting independent oversight.

“She would not state that it is wrong for a President to tweet accusations of bias or incompetence at Inspectors General who dare to criticize the Administration. She would not even state that she would have signed a letter that dozens of Inspectors General – including the current acting Inspector General at the TVA – all signed.  That letter expressed their concern that the Justice Department issued a legal opinion overruling the Intelligence Community IG’s decision to inform Congress of the existence of the credible Ukraine whistleblower complaint. Finally, when Ms. Crytzer was asked whether she had answered our questions for the record on her own, she informed us that she submitted her responses to the White House for review prior to delivering them to the Committee. If an Inspector General nominee cannot act independently in responding to questions during a confirmation process, how can we trust her to act independently once she is in the job?

“Agreeing to install a partisan Inspector General would be unacceptable for a wide range of reasons under any circumstance. But it is especially unacceptable under this Administration.

“I will end with this. Today, the Committee will also approve a number of GSA prospectus resolutions. Several of these are related to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The GSA has still not sent to Committee a prospectus for the FBI Headquarters project. Mr. Chairman,  I thank you and your staff for working to include language in the FBI prospectuses that makes clear that the facilities we are approving today cannot facilitate the relocation of multiple FBI personnel from the D.C. area FBI headquarters, until a new prospectus for FBI headquarters is approved.

“And with that, Mr. Chairman, I look forward to a brief business meeting this morning. Thank you.”