President Bush, always concerned about the unemployed, has found a job for Richard Stickler, his embattled nominee to head the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Last month, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist was forced to cancel the vote on Stickler's nomination because he didn't have the votes to overcome a filibuster by West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd. Byrd (and most other Senators) don't think Stickler, who testified that he didn't think the Mine Safety law needed improvement, has what it takes to tackle the mine safety crisis that has already killed 33 coal miners this year. Although President Bush has the authority to "recess appoint" Stickler while Congress is out on vacation, Democrats forced an agreement that if the President was going to give Stickler a recess appointment, a vote would be taken first.
So what's Stickler doing in the meantime? He's serving as "an adviser on mine safety issues" at MSHA.
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said federal agencies sometimes hire presidential nominees into jobs as consultants when their confirmation process is delayed.At a recent White House ceremony at which the recently passed mine safety legislation was signed, President Bush repeated his praise of Stickler. But Deborah Hamner, the widow of a miner killed at the Sago mine disaster, spoiled the President's fun by informing him that she opposed Stickler's nomination.
She said Stickler's new Labor Department job is not a sign that the White House has given up on seeing him confirmed as the head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration.
"That doesn't change our position that we believe he deserves an up or down vote," Perino said.
This solves the mystery of why Stickler was seen wandering around MSHA the other day.
I'm sure he's doing a hell of a job over there.