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Commerce Secretary nominee John Bryson gets backing of the Business Roundtable

June 21, 2011 | 10:27 am

John Bryson, the former Southern California utility executive nominated to be Commerce Secretary, has received the backing of the Business Roundtable, a key boost from a major industry group heading into his Senate confirmation hearing.

"John Bryson's extensive experience in the private sector has well equipped him to take on the many issues the Department must address to support the U.S. economy and job creation - issues such as technology, innovation, intellectual property and trade," Business Roundtable's John Engler wrote to the leadership of the Senate Commerce Committee, which is holding the confirmation hearing Tuesday.

President Obama last month nominated Bryson, the former longtime chief executive of Edison International, to replace Gary Locke as Commerce Secretary. But the nomination has become bogged down amid disputes over pending trade deals and questions by some Republicans about Bryson's environmental views.

The partisan clashes between the White House and congressional Republicans have slowed the confirmation process to a crawl, even for noncontroversial nominees. Bryson's nomination could take even longer, given the outspoken opposition from a handful of Republicans unhappy with his role more than 40 years ago as a co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Bryson's nomination has received lukewarm support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. But the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executives of major U.S. corporations, which has been much more friendly to the Obama administration, pushed for Bryson to be quickly confirmed.

 "The Roundtable believes confirmation of John Bryson will broadly serve the interests of the private sector and U.S. employees, and we call for the committee to move swiftly to send his nomination to the full Senate," Engler wrote.

It probably doesn't hurt that the incoming chairman of the group is Boeing Co. Chief Executive W. James McNerney Jr. He is a member of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness and served with Bryson on Boeing's board from 2001 until Bryson stepped down this month because of the Commerce nomination.


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Photo: President Obama announcing John Bryson's nomination to be Commerce Secretary on May 31. Credit: European Pressphoto Agency.