There was a Republican majority of the Senate, and it tempered the nature of the nominations being made.
Other quotes by Spencer Abraham
The federal government neither has the power to site transmission lines, nor do we build them. That's done, as people know, in their own communities. The siting decisions and the permitting is done at the local level, or by state governments if it's interstate in nature. And federal government - this is one area we have no authority.
If you had a national grid with one operator, you had twenty or even a hundred operators, if you don't have the ability to compel people to observe high standards of conduct, then you run a greater risk.