Eye Opener: Vote on TSA nominee delayed
Updated 10:31 a.m. ET
Happy Thursday! The Obama administration's pick to lead the Transportation Security Administration will have to wait after the Senate's Easter Recess for an up or down vote on his nomination amid concerns from a leading Republican about inspector general reports and several lawsuits related to his work as an Army officer and government contractor.
Retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert Harding appeared before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday for his second day of Senate confirmation hearings, and assured lawmakers that none of the interrogators who worked for his contracting firm engaged in harsh interrogation techniques when they were working in Iraqi prisons earlier this decade.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the panel's ranking member, told reporters afterward that she wants to do "one final scrub" of the information submitted by Harding. She should have plenty of time, since the Senate Commerce Committee -- which also heard testimony from Harding -- has to vote on his nomination before the Homeland Security panel. At this point, votes aren't expected until after the Easter Recess.
Harding's records raised Eyebrows when he revealed that his company repaid the government $1.8 million for billing irregularities. A billing dispute with the Defense Intelligence Agency arose because he tried to pay 40 of his interrogators after the agency terminated the contract, he told lawmakers. He later settled the dispute and sold the company last July. The billing irregularities were first reported by CongressDaily.
Collins also revealed on Wednesday that some of Harding's employees worked at a prison where detainee abuse occurred in 2003, contradicting earlier White House statements that Harding's staffers were assigned to another location.
And Harding also told lawmakers that he was the subject of several inspector general investigations and lawsuits over the course of his military career. A white military officer accused him of discrimination in 1994; a federal judge threw out a similar complaint against him in 1997; the Pentagon inspector general cleared him of wrongdoing after an investigation that lasted from 1996 and 2000; and in 1992 he was cleared of an allegation that he had a relationship with a female subordinate officer.
Will the next few weeks before a vote reveal anything else about Harding? Stay tuned.
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