Gregg Withdraws as Commerce Secretary Nominee

White House regrets Senator's "change of heart"
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And another Commerce Secretary nominee bites the dust.

Republican Senator Judd Gregg (New Hampshire) has withdrawn as President Barack Obama's nominee for Commerce Secretary. According to CNN, Gregg cited differences with the administration over moving some of the census responsibilities out of Commerce and over the stimulus package now being hammered out between Republicans and Democrats.

Gregg would have been in charge of the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, the White House's chief telecom policy adviser. NTIA is currently overseeing the DTV-to-analog converter box coupon program, whose waiting list for those coupons helped prompt the Obama administration to call for moving the DTV transition date.

Gregg was a replacement for former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who also withdrew his name due to an investigation of a private company's dealings with the state government, specifically how political donors won a state contract.

NTIA is also without a permanent top executive. There has been no non-acting head of NTIA since John Kneuer exited the post in fall 2007. Although the White House nominated aide to then-Vice President Dick Cheney, Neil Patel, last March, he was never confirmed.

The current acting head of NTIA is Anna Gomez.

"Senator Gregg reached out to the President and offered his name for Secretary of Commerce," the White House said in a statement. "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".

"I wish Senator Gregg had thought through the implications of his nomination more thoroughly before accepting this post," said Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WVA). "We need a Commerce Secretary who is ready to reach across the aisle to work on the enormous economic challenges facing the country. I am more than eager for the Obama Administration to find the right person to fill this important job."

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