2001 Scorecard Vote
Few presidential nominees generated more controversy than John Graham, President Bush's pick to head the Information and Regulatory Affairs Office of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
As director of the industry-funded Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, Graham used a biased approach to risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis to argue against regulations protecting millions of Americans--including restrictions on toxic substances like dioxin, arsenic, and nuclear waste. Graham's work at the center encouraged the use of risk assessment techniques that downplayed the importance of data on future deaths from diseases such as cancer and blurred the distinction between different types of risk such as those that are voluntary and those that come from pollution. Graham also helped to develop proposals for environmental rollbacks that were a part of the so-called regulatory reform portions of the 1995 Contract with America.
The OMB Information and Regulatory Affairs office has a powerful role in establishing new regulations in every federal agency. Environmental, health and labor advocates, citing concerns that Graham would use far-reaching regulatory reviews to favor business interests and undermine public health and environmental protections, mounted a campaign against his nomination with the help of key members of the Senate including Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL).
On July 19, 2001, the Senate voted 61-37 to confirm Graham to the OMB post (Senate roll call vote 242). NO is the pro-environment vote. Since assuming his post, Graham's actions have begun to bear out the fears of his critics: in a year-end report to Congress, he flagged a list of so-called "outmoded or outdated" regulations that he is targeting for change or elimination. His list includes the new rule to reduce levels of arsenic in drinking water and the new source review rule under the Clean Air Act.