Senate committee approves OFPP nominee, four other bills

Wednesday - 5/16/2012, 4:43pm EDT

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved the nomination of Joe Jordan to be the next administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy.

Jordan received nearly unanimous approval with only Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) objecting.

"There have been questions that have been raised about whether or not Mr. Jordan is sufficiently qualified for the post, based on my analysis of his background particularly his time at the Small Business Administration and my sense of questioning of him, I believe he is qualified to be the head of OFPP even though he has considerably less experience than many of the previous predecessors," said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), ranking member of the committee, during the committee's business meeting Wednesday. "My only qualm about Mr. Jordan has to do with whether or not he will stand up to any attempt by the administration to introduce political considerations into the federal contracting process. He became increasingly stronger as I questioned him in writing and at the hearing."

Jordan's nomination now goes to the full Senate for a vote.

Along with approving his nomination, the committee also approved several other bills, including the amendment as a substitute for the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act (S. 1910), the Secret Service Retirement Act (S. 1515) and the Keeping Politics out of Federal Contracting Act (S. 1100).

Lieberman: Domestic-partner benefits on par with private-sector

The Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act amendment would give same-sex partners of federal employees or retirees access to federal benefits.

"What S. 1910 simply does is right an existing injustice that penalizes one class of federal employees by limiting their benefits versus what their fellow federal workers receive," said Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the committee, in his statement for the record. "Under S.1910, federal employees in same-sex domestic partnerships would be entitled to the same employment benefits available to married federal employees and their spouses. Among those benefits are health care; retirement and disability plans; family, medical, and emergency leave; group life insurance; long-term care insurance; worker's comp; and death and disability benefits."

Lieberman said almost 10,000 companies, 24 states, 154 local jurisdictions and 300 colleges and universities already provide similar benefits to domestic partners. He said the bill also will help agencies recruit and retain federal workers because their family benefits are more on par with the private sector.

Four lawmakers voted against the bill: Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Mark Prior (D-Ark.) and Johnson.

Tester decries lack of transparency in corporate donations

Only the Keeping Politics out of Federal Contracting Act received minimal debate.

Collins sponsored the bill in reaction to the White House's draft executive order that would require vendors to submit information about political contributions as part of their bid proposal packages to the government.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) made the case against the bill and for the executive order because it would give a window into the contributions by companies. He said data on individual contributions already is available through the Federal Election Commission.

"From a corporate standpoint, there is no transparency whatsoever," Tester said. "These folks are putting up a lot more money than we are raising and I don't think corporations should have more power than people. This is one of ways we can force them to disclose."

Collins said acquisition should not be used in place of campaign finance reform.

Tester ended up being the only member to vote against the bill.

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Jordan makes his case for being next OFPP administrator