‘I want to get there and help’: Trump’s nominee for NNSA No. 2 remains excited

February 15, 2019 GMT

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump’s pick to be the National Nuclear Security Administration’s second in command on Wednesday afternoon said he’s ready to get working – if and when he gets confirmed.

“I’m excited,” William Bookless, a 32-year senior physicist, said. “I want to get there and help.”

Getting there, though, could take some time.

Bookless, who contributed to the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, was first nominated by Trump in August 2018.

The Senate Armed Services Committee – at the time featuring U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, both South Carolina Republicans – held a nomination hearing for Bookless in November 2018. Despite a bit of back and forth, the committee passed Bookless on to the full Senate.

Bookless on Wednesday described a meeting with Graham’s staff as “cordial.”

The 115th Congress ended without Bookless being fully voted on; Trump in January renominated Bookless for the new – now ongoing – 116th Congress. Dozens of nominations were made that same day.

On Wednesday, Bookless said he has a “background” that “compliments” the NNSA and its directives.

“I’m committed to the mission,” the former Brookhaven National Laboratory assistant policy and planning director said.

If Bookless eventually does get voted in, he’ll join the executive hierarchy of the NNSA – he’d be the principal deputy administrator, right below NNSA chief Lisa Gordon-Hagerty.

The NNSA is a semiautonomous U.S. Department of Energy agency in charge of the nation’s nuclear complex and related nonproliferation. The NNSA operates at the Savannah River Site and could potentially become the site landlord.

Bookless on Wednesday said he “might not” have another nomination hearing given the previous favorable report.

As of Thursday evening, the Senate Armed Services Committee website did not have a hearing for Bookless listed.

Bookless attended the annual Nuclear Deterrence Summit.