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Eye Opener: Vote on TSA nominee delayed


Eye Opener

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.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

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By  | March 25, 2010; 6:20 AM ET
Categories:  Confirmation Hearings, Eye Opener  
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Posted by: ZonaChiyo | March 25, 2010 6:41 AM | Report abuse

TSA appointment will have to wait until the Easter break.

The question is how many recess appointments will the President make?

Posted by: samf911 | March 25, 2010 8:18 AM | Report abuse

The average American gets zero days off for "Easter break."

How many does Congress get?

Posted by: corrections | March 25, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

How many skeletons must be found in Harding's closet before his name will be removed from nomination?

Posted by: djnumerouno | March 26, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

How can the white house vetting team miss so many obvious issues with the critical nomination, especially after the first candiate withdrew. You expect them to more careful.

Posted by: jchalla | March 27, 2010 10:28 PM | Report abuse

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