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Amid the harried legislative weekend spent by the U.S. Senate haggling with the House of Representatives over last-minute deals on defense spending and drilling for oil in Alaska, the Senate managed to confirm William E. Kovacic and J. Thomas Rosch to serve as commissioners of the Federal Trade Commission. The Dec. 17 confirmations remove the last real hurdle to their taking the FTC posts; a formal swearing-in is expected early next month. Their appointments will bring the commission back to its five-member complement. The panel has been short a member since June 30, when Republican Orson Swindle stepped down. Kovacic is taking Swindle’s seat. Rosch will replace Commissioner Thomas Leery, whose term expired in September but agreed to remain in the job until his replacement assumes office. Kovacic and Rosch were confirmed with a slate of other nominations, including senior postings to the Departments of Energy and Commerce Saturday as part of the rush of business by a Congress aiming to finish before breaking for the Christmas holiday. Three other nominations key to the dealmaking community were still waiting Senate action as of Monday afternoon: Thomas Barnett’s nod to be installed as the permanent chief of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division; and the selections of Michael Copps and Deborah Tate to the Federal Communications Commission. Those three nominees also could receive confirmation as the Senate continues work during the next couple of days. The Senate has set no formal date for adjournment and is expected to be in session at least through Wednesday and perhaps Thursday. Their nominations have been somewhat more controversial that either of the FTC nominees. Barnett, who has been serving as the Antitrust Division chief in an acting capacity, has drawn the ire of a handful of senators for defending the Justice Department’s lengthy and unsuccessful court fight to block Oracle Corp.’s takeover of PeopleSoft. The FCC nominations are tangled in a turf battle between the White House and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, over which politician’s favored pick should be named to a third available FCC seat. None of the disputes are expected to kill the lingering nominations, but they could push confirmation to late January, when Congress will resume following the holiday break. Confirmation also could be pushed back because of larger Senate politics. Nevada’s Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate’s Democratic leader, was angered over the weekend by a deal reached by House and Senate Republicans that would allow oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve. He has threatened to bog down Senate action during the next few days and block any votes on nominations unless the measure is killed. As for the FTC nominees, both were happy to have cleared the Senate without further delay. They were notified of their confirmation Saturday by Anna Davis, the agency’s director of congressional relations. “I’m still kind of in state of shock,” said Rosch, who President Bush nominated to replace Leary on Sept. 29. “I’m grateful it’s happened.” Leary said he will begin focusing on his new duties after New Year. “It’s an unbelievable opportunity and responsibility,” he said.” It’s going to be a daunting task to succeed Tom Leary. Nobody can replace him but I’ll do my best to succeed him with the style and grace he’s displayed over the years.” Rosch is the former managing partner in the San Francisco office of law firm Latham & Watkins and is currently a partner in the firm’s antitrust and health care and life sciences practice. He was director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection director from 1973 to 1975 and was a member of a special committee studying the role of the FTC in 1989. According to a write-up on the FTC’s Web site, he has been lead counsel in more than 100 federal and state court antitrust cases and has more than 40 years of legal experience. Rosch served as chair of the American Bar Association’s Antitrust Section in 1990, and he has chaired the California Bar Association’s Antitrust Section. Kovacic was equally pleased and daunted by his confirmation. “I hoped when I was a junior lawyer that someday I’d have this chance,” he said. “I have a lot of homework to do in the next couple of months.” Kovacic is currently a professor at George Washington University Law School, where he first began teaching in 1999. He took a break from teaching to be the FTC’s general counsel from 2001 through the end of 2004. Kovacic previously worked at the commission from 1979 to 1983, first as a staffer with the Bureau of Competition’s Planning Office and then as an aide to former Commissioner George W. Douglas. After leaving the FTC in 1983, Kovacic was an antitrust associate with the Washington office of Bryan Cave. He then joined the law school faculty at Fairfax, Va.-based George Mason University in 1986. He also spent one year on the staff of the U.S. Senate’s Subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly. Copyright �2005 TDD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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