Republican Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, a former veterinarian who criticized pet evacuation efforts after Hurricane Katrina, is blocking the promotion of a Coast Guard vice admiral who headed the hurricane recovery.
President Bush nominated Vice Adm. Thad W. Allen to be commandant of the Coast Guard in January. It was approved on a voice vote last week by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
Evidently animal evacuation is Sen. Ensign’s “pet” issue:
Ensign visited the Gulf Coast in late September, a month after Katrina hit, and met with Allen to press him to better coordinate animal rescue efforts. He said that in addition to concerns about the animals’ welfare, abandoned pets could cause a public health risk.
Allen performed brilliantly by all accounts in his role in the Katrina response, and there has been nearly unanimous support for his appointment as Coast Guard commandant. Between the challenges of port and maritime security and preparations for the next hurricane season, the new Coast Guard Commandant’s inbox is full. Any delay in approving this nomination is not only unfair to Allen, but it’s potentially harmful to our security and our national preparedness. And holding the nomination over a secondary, trivial issue such as “pet evacuation” is irresponsible and shameful.