A senator’s crusade limits America’s options.
At the end of May, President Obama nominated one of the industry’s own to a top post in his cabinet. He picked John Bryson, former CEO of Edison International, to become Commerce secretary. Bryson is an interesting choice, bringing business acumen and environmental awareness to the Commerce Department. Aside from being Edison’s CEO, Bryson served on the boards of Boeing, Walt Disney and solar project developer BrightSource Energy. Additionally, back in 1970, he co-founded the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Bryson left NRDC in the mid-’70s, but the organization went on to become one of the country’s most important environmental advocacy groups.
Of course, the business of Washington is politics, and the majority party in Congress rarely gives the other party’s president anything without getting something in return. So Republican lawmakers said they wouldn’t ratify Bryson’s nomination until the president advanced certain free-trade agreements that they favor—a negotiating tactic that seemed largely unrelated to Bryson himself. However, in mid-July Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) put his own “hold” on Bryson’s nomination, in effect vowing to filibuster it, no matter what happens with the trade agreements.