UPDATED: Senate Committee Loses Quorum; Does Not Vote on Rep. Robinson’s Nomination

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By Ashlyn Kelly


FRAMINGHAM – State Representative Maria Robinson’s nomination to be an Assistant Secretary of Energy for the Office of Electricity was not voted on during a Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources confirmation hearing today, March 8. 

According to Committee Chair Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from Virginia, there was not a quorum present to vote on Rep. Robinson’s nomination.

There was a quorum for the first four votes, but not for Framingham State Rep. Robinson’s vote, the fifth and final vote.

The other four votes all received a favorable vote from the Committee.

Shalanda Baker was nominated to be Director of the Office of Minority Economic Impact in the Department of Energy.

Asmeret Asefaw Berhe was nominated to be Director of the Office of Science in the Department of Energy.

Sara Bronin was nominated to be Chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

Joseph DeCarolis was nominated to be an administrator of the Energy Information Administration at the U.S. Department of Energy.

In his opening statement, Senate Committee Chair said, “I believe all five are well qualified by the training and experiences for the position to which they have been nominated,” and recommended a favorable vote for all five nominees. 

The committee did vote on the other four nominations being considered. 

According to Senator Manchin, roll call votes were only requested for Berhe, Bronin, and Rep. Robinson. 

Baker and DeCarolis were voted on by a voice vote. They were both recommended favorably. 

Berhe and Bronin both received a 12-8 vote in favor of being recommended favorably.

Committee Ranking Member Senator John Barrasso, a Republican from Wyoming, said in his opening statement he would not vote to recommend Rep. Robinson favorably. 

“She has openly celebrated abandoning America’s abundant coal oil and natural gas resources in favor of intermittent unreliable and unaffordable renewable energy,” Senator Barrasso said. “These traditional energy resources are the very backbone of our nation’s electrical system.”

Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington, said Rep. Robinson’s nomination “is a very important nomination because we’ve become more dependent on electricity to heat our homes, to drive our cars and connect to the internet and our national grid is under growing stress and strain.”

Senator James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma, said he would oppose recommending Rep. Robinson favorably, because “as we had the conversation here – her preferences for home heating oil in New England rather than clean-burning natural gas.”

In September 2021, President Biden nominated Rep. Robinson to be the next Assistant Secretary of Energy for Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.

Rep. Robinson, if confirmed by the full U.S. Senate, would head the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability within the United States Department of Energy.

The Office leads efforts to modernize the electric grid. It does this through the development and implementation of national policy pertaining to electric grid reliability, and through the management of research, development, and demonstration activities for next generation electric grid infrastructure technologies.

Under the supervision of the Under Secretary of Energy for Energy and Environment, the Assistant Secretary is responsible of for the analysis of electricity congestion, the designation of draft National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors, the coordination of energy corridors across federal lands, and workforce issues related to the electricity utility industry.

Rep. Robinson leads the Massachusetts House of Representatives Clean Energy Caucus, serves as the Massachusetts state lead to the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators where she is on the board, and is the only state legislator on the U.S. EPA Clean Air Act Advisory Committee.

She was elected to the 6th Middlesex District state House seat 2018, to replace the late Rep. Chris Walsh. She is the first Korean-American to serve in the Massachusetts legislature.

Under the state’s redistricting plan which begins in January 2023, Rep. Robinson would resides in the 7th Middlesex District house seat, along with district’s currently elected official Jack Patrick Lewis.

Rep. Robinson has said, if she is confirmed, she will resign from her 6th Middlesex District seat.


Ashlyn Kelly is a Spring 2022 SOURCE intern. She is a is a senior communication arts major with minors in political science and journalism at Framingham State University. When she is not writing an article, you can usually find her in a theatre.


email: editor@FraminghamSource.com call or text at 508-315-7176

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