The White House has said it considers Cobert’s status valid and that it doesn’t intend to replace her while her nomination is pending. Even under the IG’s reading of the situation, Cobert can remain the nominee; the issue is her status as acting director. While approved by a committee, Cobert’s nomination apparently won’t get a full Senate vote pending the outcome of a dispute over rules the agency issued in 2013 involving the Affordable Care Act. That dispute has been ongoing since then and continued deadlock could leave her nomination in limbo indefinitely, leaving a cloud over any actions she takes moving forward, as well. Administration officials also have raised the possibility of an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court of the appeals court decision. Even if that proceeds and the high court accepts the case, no decision would be likely until late in the year at the earliest. The IG letter meanwhile also says that decisions made following her nomination could not be later “ratified”–presumably by her after her confirmation, or by someone else installed as director–leaving the prospect that to be safe from challenge, they would have to start again from the beginning. That could be another issue left up to the courts.
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