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Jane Corwin

FILE - Former State Assemblymember Jane Corwin speaks on the Assembly floor in 2016. Corwin and two other International Joint Commission nominees were confirmed by the Senate Thursday. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

A U.S. Senate committee advanced President Donald Trump's picks to serve on a bi-national commission tasked with managing Lake Ontario water levels. 

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee reported the nominations of former New York state Assembly member Jane Corwin, Rob Sisson and Lance Yohe to fill the United States' three seats on the six-member International Joint Commission. The committee reviewed the nominations at a business meeting Wednesday. 

With the committee's approval, the nominations can be considered by the full Senate. 

The International Joint Commission manages shared waterways between the U.S. and Canada. These water bodies include Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. 

For now, the U.S. has two members on the commission: Lara Pollack, the section chair, and Rich Moy — both of whom were appointed by former President Barack Obama. 

In 2018, Trump nominated Corwin, Sisson and Yohe to serve on the commission. But the Senate didn't consider the nominations before the end of the year. 

Trump renominated the trio in January. 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, New York's senior senator, announced in March that he supports Trump's nominees

"I urge my colleagues in the Republican majority to put them up for committee review and then a floor vote as soon as possible," he said. 

If confirmed, Corwin will serve as the commission's U.S. section chair. She is a former state lawmaker from western New York who is familiar with Plan 2014, a water management strategy approved by the commission in 2016. 

When flooding occurred along Lake Ontario in 2017, some elected officials and residents blamed it on Plan 2014. They believe adjustments in water levels by the plan contributed to the flooding that impacted several communities, including the village of Fair Haven in Cayuga County. 

The main cause of the flooding, though, was record rainfall in the Great Lakes Basin. 

With above average water levels this year, there is concern that shoreline communities could experience a repeat of the 2017 flood. That's one of the reasons why several state lawmakers, including state Sen. Pam Helming, signed a letter to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urging him to allow a vote on the three IJC nominees

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has a backlog of nominees to consider. U.S. Sen. James Risch, the committee's chair, revealed last week that there were 61 nominees awaiting action. Trump's picks for the International Joint Commission were on that list. 

"I am pleased that our committee was able to come together today and vote out a sizable number of the president's nominees, as well as seven very important resolutions," Risch said in a statement Wednesday. 

The International Joint Commission nominees have been placed on the Senate calendar, but dates haven't been set for confirmation votes. It's possible the Senate could approve several nominations at once to reduce its backlog. 

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Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or robert.harding@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.

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