Senators in standoff over EPA nominee
President Barack Obama in March nominated assistant EPA administrator Gina McCarthy to lead the agency.
May 11th, 2013
10:55 AM ET
10 years ago

Senators in standoff over EPA nominee

Washington (CNN) - The top Democrat on the committee considering President Barack Obama's nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency indicated late Friday she may attempt to break an impasse over the nomination this week.

Republicans prevented a Thursday vote on the nomination of Gina McCarthy, the assistant administrator of the agency, by boycotting a meeting of the Environment and Public Works committee. GOP members said their questions for McCarthy and the EPA have gone unanswered, a contention the White House disputed.

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Then on Friday, committee chairwoman Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, announced another meeting to consider the nomination would be held next week.

"As of the date of the upcoming business meeting, this nomination will have been delayed at your request for four weeks," she wrote to Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, the top Republican on the panel. "It is time to move forward with her nomination. I hope you will attend."

Vitter is one of eight Republicans and Boxer is one of 10 Democrats on the committee.

The committee's rules generally require the presence of two minority members - currently the Republicans - to conduct business.

But an exception to that rule allows the committee to hand off business to the full Senate - the step after committee consideration of a nomination - if "a majority of committee members cast votes in person." The ten Democrats could, under that rule, constitute a majority of the panel’s 18 members.

It was not clear if Boxer would use that exception to advance the nomination this week if Republicans again boycotted, but a Democratic source familiar with the process said on Saturday “all options are available.”

Republican members say committee precedence is on their side. They waited two weeks to move forward in 2003 on a GOP nominee to lead the EPA when Democrats boycotted a meeting.

They wrote to Boxer ahead of last week's meeting that they "have asked EPA to honor five very reasonable and basic requests in conjunction with the nomination of Gina McCarthy which focus on openness and transparency."

Although a month has passed since their requests, "EPA has stonewalled on four of the five categories," they wrote.

Their requests include new policies and a review of using private e-mail accounts to conduct official business and greater transparency in the agency rulemaking process.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday that "there has been an historic level of obstructionism" from Republicans that "is consistent with Republican practice that we saw in earlier nominations this year."

"We call on Republicans in the Senate to stop gumming up the works when it comes to the confirmation process of nominees who are enormously qualified for the jobs that the president has asked them to fill and to get about the business of confirming them," he told reporters.

Obama nominated McCarthy as the EPA's next administrator in March and confirmation hearings were held in April. If confirmed, McCarthy would replace Lisa Jackson, who stepped down as administrator of the agency earlier this year.

Filed under: Congress • EPA
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. don in albuquerque

    Gee whiz.........Republicans standing in the way of any kind of progress. How very SOP for the GOTP. Get back to Benghazi boys, and waste the country's time and tax dollars there. We will remember every last one of you in the very next election. Bye, bye.

    May 11, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  2. Thomas

    Scientists say it's apparent that human activity - namely burning coal, oil and natural gas - has been driving a rapid rise of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
    Global warming brings on more pollen Climate change in India Climate change impacts the world NASA tests this solar-powered robot
    Carbon dioxide changes climate and drives acidification of the ocean.
    "Once emitted, it remains for the ocean atmosphere system for thousands of years, warming the planet. It changes climate and is driving ocean acidification all that time," said Jim Butler, a senior scientist at NOAA.
    Among the many risks of rising temperatures, agriculture, forestry, ecosystems and human health are all expected to suffer as a result of trends in climate change.

    Rick Perry / Rand Paul 2016
    Aqua Buddha Buddies for Deregulation

    May 11, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  3. MaryM

    Wow, really, The GOPers obstructing again. Guess they will never learn or win the White house for a long, long time.

    May 11, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  4. GI Joe

    SHOCKED !!!!!!

    We should know who to vote out of the House next year.

    May 11, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  5. sammy750

    Remember the Republicans want to destroy the EPA, FDA and any organization that control and makes better this nation and the health of the people. The Republicans say these organizations destroy jobs and takes away profits from businesses. Republicans don't want any controls to protect the people.
    With NC being the latest state to take away voters rights, most Republican controlled states have suppress voters rights now to vote. Millions will lose there right to vote, because of Republican passed bills. The same goes for women rights under Republicans. Republicans are the real Terrorists of this nation. They must be defeated at the polls if you can vote.

    May 11, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  6. Dan5404

    If it has anything to do with truth in science or any kind of regulation that might protect our air, water and trees, you can bet the republicans are against it. After all, it is their oil and coal billionaires that keep them in office while they endanger our fresh water supply and the air we breathe. Short term gain, baby! Worry about water becoming more expensive than oil, crops diminished or being able to breathe later!

    May 11, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  7. RINO Bill

    So far I do not see any change in the Republican Party or the way they conduct themselves. What happened to re-inventing themselves?

    Get the people's business done and move on! Slackers and obstructionists will be remembered during next year's election.

    Does the GOP want a repeat of 2006 and 2008 in 2014 and 2016? I certainly do not, but they are not offering any viable alternatives.

    May 11, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  8. Zerubbabel

    Vitter himself has submitted 650 questions in this confirmation. The repubs need to accept the fact that the country does not agree with their vision for America and stop attempting to ram their narrow vision down our throats.

    May 11, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  9. Pete

    It's republicans wanting their way like when Cheney was there,Bushs puppetmaster...Cheney had secret WH meetings with EPA as VP to agree to stay away from Halliburton and other natural gas corporations using fracking as their way of extracting gas from wells they installed..Cheney told EPA not to interfere with the process and told them hands off in looking up,investigating chemicals used in the process later learned illegal and potentially dangerous to cause cancer and other medical maladies besides causing deformities in newly born babies near these sites...EPA couldn't request MSDS sheets required on sites to show EPA inspectors and weren't until now when a state judge over ruled the gas corporations and made it mandatory to show those sheets in court cases being heard now in Pennsylvania and Delaware because of lawsuits where fracking was involved ..

    May 11, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  10. elarr gerht

    The democrats on the EPA committee couldn't get their ducks in row. (Missing duck 'Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.)
    They should have made Lautenberg show up, or replace him.
    He would have given them the one vote they needed.
    They wouldn't have had that vote, whether the republican minority was there or not.
    If he is too sick to do his job, he should be replaced.
    They needed 10 yes votes, only had 9 democrats.
    The 8 republicans would have voted no.
    It wasn't their fault that a democrat didn't show up.
    Why schedule a vote, when you know tour 10th vote won't be there ?
    The dems. think it makes sense some how, to blame the republicans, when it is their stupidity that held up that vote.

    May 11, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  11. Bill from GA

    We wouldn't want to overly empower the EPA, for instance, by giving it an effective leader. They might try to shut down some 'dangerous' plant, like, say, some of those thriving in Texas.

    More were killed in West, TX, than in Benghazi. Where is the Outrage? Where's the congressional Investigation? How many more are endangering our towns?

    May 11, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  12. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    The easy way to fix the obstruction by the gop on every issue is simple, through the gop garbage out of the house and senate in 2014 mid term elections. Vote all dems, the gop is to stupid to govern!!!!!

    May 11, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  13. Nameimmigrant

    Haha libs! Yea good luck with election!

    May 11, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  14. John from Brooklyn

    What's their hangup...they want to make sure she's on BP's payroll first?

    May 11, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  15. Brian

    Grand Old Plutocrats

    May 11, 2013 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  16. Data Driven

    Someday (probably not soon) a Republican will President. Will Democrats remember to go and do likewise on that day, or will they wimp out again?

    May 11, 2013 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  17. just sayin

    the obama administration epa has been attacking businesses with thousands and thousands of new job killing regulations. all of these people need to be opposed as they are far left environmental zealots that are killing the economy.

    May 11, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  18. Jinx9to88

    Wow this is news. The GOP blocking a nomination. No way.

    May 11, 2013 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  19. Pete

    @nameimmigrant,hey we look a hell of a lot better than your party does in 2012-16..Watch what the sequester does to these republican idiots,they almost unanimously voted for it smart guy and Pres.Obama signed their partys death warrents ,now who's lauging now about next elections bud!!

    May 11, 2013 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  20. Pete

    I mean elections in 2014-16..typo

    May 11, 2013 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  21. Name willard

    Obama like looking slaughter on benzhizn so God will keep eye on presdient obama what happened about murder 4 amercian

    May 11, 2013 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  22. GonzoinHouston

    This is really getting ridiculous; opposing things they once sponsored, like the health-care insurance mandate, opposing or obstructing appointments more than any minority party in history, publicly embracing blatant lies, like gun owner registration. Is there anything these guys WON'T obstruct? If the demmies do take back the House and hold on to the Senate in 2014, I won't blame Obama if the Senate takes a two-year suspension of holds and filibusters and Obama just rams through his policies. Why not? The pubbers have been accusing him of acting like an autocrat.

    May 11, 2013 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  23. Tony in Maine

    @ just sayin'
    Yeah – what's the harm in dumping chlorine in the Androscoggin River. We drink chlorinated water for God's sake. Maybe a little chlorine would make it cleaner. And forcing businesses to stop burning soft coal or tune up the engines in their diesel trucks just because it might screw up someone's breathing is not cost effective. If you can't breathe – that's your problem not mine. Personal responsibility is what you need. Freakin' takers...

    Sarcasm mode off.

    President Obama's appointees and legislative initiatives will never get past the Greedy Old Phools in the Senate. Were he named Barry O'Brien and have fair skin and red hair...

    May 12, 2013 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  24. roro

    What a surprise! Will the Republicans never give this president a break? Will they ever do what is right for this country, and what the people want them to do? Apparently not. This Congress is the worst in our history, and I can only hope that the citizens remember this on all the upcoming elections. Do the right thing, Americans. Vote the selfish, self-serving Republican obstructionists out of office, and let's get this country back on track going forward.

    May 12, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  25. Donkey Party

    With a name like "McCarthy", one would think the GOP would be tripping over themselves to appoint her.

    May 12, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |