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Senate rule change could end blocking of top science jobs

The United States Senate has passed a measure that will make it harder for Republican lawmakers to block President Obama’s nominations of individuals to top jobs that have been vacant for up to 2 years.

Appointments to posts such as the director of the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the US Geological Survey—jobs that have remained unfilled for months—and the position of Undersecretary for Science at the Department of Energy (DOE), which has been vacant for more than two years, will be affected by the measure passed on 21 November.

Most recently, the nominations of Obama’s choices to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy, and the Department of Energy, nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz (pictured), were delayed by Senate Republicans before they were ultimately confirmed in May and July, respectively following their nominations in March.

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