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WASHINGTON – Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire abruptly withdrew his nomination as commerce secretary Thursday, citing "irresolvable conflicts" with President Barack Obama's handling of the economic stimulus and 2010 census.
"We are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy," Gregg said in a statement released by his Senate office.
Gregg, 61, is a former New Hampshire governor who previously served in the House. He has been in the Senate since 1993 and currently serves as the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, where he is known as a crusader against big spending.
“However, it has become apparent during this process that this will not work for me as I have found that on issues such as the stimulus package and the Census there are irresolvable conflicts for me. Prior to accepting this post, we had discussed these and other potential differences, but unfortunately we did not adequately focus on these concerns. We are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy.
“Obviously the President requires a team that is fully supportive of all his initiatives.
Obama has not proposed removing the census from the Commerce Department and that the same congressional committees that had oversight during the previous administration will retain that authority.
The Congressional Black Caucus and a group representing Latino elected officials have raised questions about Gregg, noting that as chairman of the Senate panel overseeing the Census Bureau budget he frequently sought to cut funding that they believe led to an undercount of minorities.
To allay concerns over Gregg, the White House initially indicated that it might take greater control over the Census Bureau. But amid GOP criticism it has since clarified that the White House will "work closely with the census director," and that the Census Bureau would not be removed from the Commerce Department.
"The president recognizes the importance of ensuring that the Census Bureau conducts a complete and accurate count through a process that is free from politicization, and he looks forward to working with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and Secretary-designate Gregg to achieve that goal," White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said.
A White House spokesman denies Republican congressional charges that the White House is "taking the unprecedented step of moving control of the Census Bureau" to "political operatives on the White House staff."
The charge is made in a letter House Republicans - including Minority Leader John Boehner - sent yesterday President Obama - calling on him to "reconsider and reverse this harmful course of action."
In response to questions from CBS News, spokesman Ben LaBolt says the charge is not accurate.
The Obama team botched its chance to explain in a timely way, clearly, not in code, what Obama did--or did not--want to change in regards to overseeing the Census Bureau after Gregg was nominated.
"Once it became clear after his nomination that Senator Gregg was not going to be supporting some of President Obama's key economic priorities, it became necessary for Senator Gregg and the Obama administration to part ways. We regret that he has had a change of heart".
So after some Democrats--particularly the Congressional Black Caucus--complained about Gregg, the White House sent some kind of signal--vague, but still something--that the White House will take some kind of oversight role with the Bureau. That morphed into Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel running the Census from the West Wing, though that is not the case. After a few days, as the issue festered, the White House then said in a statement not widely released that nothing would change.
Originally posted by Benevolent Heretic
reply to post by MikeboydUS
This is too weird. Of course, the media reports something and we're left to figure out the truth...
I know it was reported in the Washington Post that the President was going to move the census to the White House, but I can't find confirmation of that. They didn't even say where they had heard it... Can anyone help me out?
White House statement on Gregg withdrawal
From the BNO Newsroom.
Washington, D.C. (BNO NEWS) -- White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs released the following statement on the news that Judd Gregg is withdrawing his nomination for Commerce Secretary.
“Senator Gregg reached out to the President and offered his name for Secretary of Commerce. He was very clear throughout the interviewing process that despite past disagreements about policies, he would support, embrace, and move forward with the President’s agenda. Once it became clear after his nomination that Senator Gregg was not going to be supporting some of President Obama’s key economic priorities, it became necessary for Senator Gregg and the Obama administration to part ways. We regret that he has had a change of heart”.
Q One last one. Has the White House moved the control of the Census Bureau into the White House for the purposes of the 2010 census, and if so why?
MR. GIBBS: No,
Originally posted by redhatty
And no, the change has not happened yet, but people in the White House apparently let the rumor fly that should Gregg become Commerce Secretary that the Census would be moved
Originally posted by Benevolent Heretic
Apparently? Is that just your take or do you have something to base that on?
The decision was made last week after California Rep. Barbara Lee, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Hispanic groups complained to the White House that Judd Gregg, the Republican senator from New Hampshire slated to head Commerce, couldn't be trusted to conduct a complete Census.
Republican National Chairman Michael Steele made the following statement on FOX News this afternoon about Judd Gregg's decision not to become commerce secretary.
". . . the Administration this past week stripped out of the Department of Commerce one of the most important things it’s going to have to do over the next couple of years, and that is the census. Now that they have put that inside the White House where I do not think it belongs, basically hijacking the census process, the secretary-designee was sitting there thinking to himself: “So what am I going to do?”
Senator Cornyn, we now learn that the Obama administration is going to have the director of the Census Bureau report not only to the commerce secretary but also to the White House.
What's wrong with that?
CORNYN: Well, ordinarily, this has been something that the commerce secretary has done, and I think it ought to be done on a competent, as much as possible, nonpartisan basis.
And to shift it to the White House to me just politicizes the census, which is not something we should be doing.
WALLACE: And what's the danger, briefly, of politicizing the census?
CORNYN: Well, because, of course, that determines who gets what congressional districts. States like Texas were going to get probably at least three new congressional districts based on the reapportionment — and then, of course, in drawing those lines, redistricting within states.
It's all based on those census figures. So if you cook the figures up front, I think it distorts that process going forward and undermines the concept of one person, one vote.
WALLACE: And very briefly, Congressman Van Hollen, I mean, why not leave it in the Commerce Department?
VAN HOLLEN: Look, I think the issue at the end of the day we should all agree is that we want the facts and accuracy in the count. And it seems to me that the more eyes taking a look at this, the better.
It's going to be all on the Internet in terms of how the process is done. This administration has a huge commitment to transparency. So I think at the end of the day, it matters less exactly what the reporting mechanism is than that we get the facts and the count right.
The Democrats in Illinois were—won the right to redistrict the state, and like all Democrats in Illinois, Obama was deeply involved with the redrawing of his own district. In fact, one day in the spring of 2001, he sat down at a computer with sophisticated mapping software and began the process of redrawing his own district.
And his district changed in fundamental ways after that. He used to represent just an area in the south of Chicago that went east to west. His district changed; it now pointed north—it was a north-to-south district—and it included a huge chunk of downtown Chicago, including the famous Loop, which is the big business district; the Gold Coast; all—almost all of the Chicago Lakefront. He represented now all the museums, all the finest shopping areas of downtown Chicago, as well as his original Hyde Park base. So it was a very, very different district. It became whiter. It became wealthier. It became more white-collar. It became more Jewish. And it had one of the highest concentrations of Republicans in Chicago. And the folks that lived and worked in that district now would be the important donors for his US Senate campaign that started—that he started to run for in 2002. So it was a big dramatic change, and that redistricting really was a huge turning point in Obama’s political career.
The other thing that it did, besides the fact that his constituents now were so much different, the overall goal of redistricting in Illinois was to take back the State Senate for the Democrats. They gerrymandered the state, and they accomplished that in 2002. So, after 2002, Barack Obama, who had been a state senator since January of 1997 in the minority, where he couldn’t get much done, he’s now a state senator in the majority. And that allowed him to do—to actually get some things passed and get all of the issues—and get all of the things passed that he would then use as a platform for his 2004 Senate campaign. So that redistricting was incredibly important to his political career. I think you could make an argument that without that redistricting, he may not have been a real contender in that US Senate race.