The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has delayed a vote on the nomination of HUD official John Gibbs to head OPM, while approving nominees for three seats on the TSP board who if confirmed by the full Senate would form a new majority.
At a hearing last week both Democrats and Republicans questioned Gibbs about comments he made in person and online in his former role as a commentator on conservative television and media sites. Several senators characterized some of those comments as disparaging of Muslims and other minority groups and reflective of fringe conspiracy theories.
Gibbs, who before joining HUD three years ago was in the software industry, stressed that he is no longer a commentator and promised to act in an evenhanded manner if confirmed as OPM director. However, the committee on Wednesday (September 16) put off indefinitely a planned vote on his nomination, with the only official reason given being that some members wanted further information.
There was no such tension over the TSP board nominees, who were named after the TSP approached the launch of a long-planned widening of the international stock I fund; in addition to the roughly two dozen countries now represented, mainly in Europe, about the same number of emerging market countries worldwide were to be included.
However, the inclusion of China among them stirred a political controversy and the administration made nominations for three of the five seats on the board–all of whose terms have expired but who have continued serving on extensions—based on an assumption that they would oppose the change. Afterward, the current board voted to shelve the change pending the possible seating of those nominees.
At the hearing all three raised various objections to the inclusion of China but also promised to act in the best interests of TSP investors, which includes giving them the opportunity to achieve higher gains with an acceptable level of risk.
The TSP nominees now move forward for what could be confirmation by the full Senate at any time, while the Gibbs nomination appears to be in limbo.