McCarthy’s EPA Nomination Wins Approval of Senate CommitteeMark Drajem
Gina McCarthy won the support of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to be administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in the second party-line vote in a day on a cabinet-level nominee of President Barack Obama.
The panel voted 10-8 to send McCarthy’s nomination to the full Senate, one week after Republicans boycotted a meeting to protest lack of response to questions sent to the agency. Earlier today, a separate Senate panel voted along party lines to back Tom Perez as Labor secretary.
Both picks now face the risk of a filibuster and delay by the full Senate, in a sign of increasingly contentious nomination battles.
“All I know is that there couldn’t be a better nominee,” California Democrat Barbara Boxer, the panel’s chairman, said after the committee vote today. “Don’t let her twist in the wind with a threat of a filibuster.”
McCarthy, if confirmed, would take over an agency that Republicans have criticized for pollution limits that they say will cost jobs and hurt the economy. McCarthy, 59, is the EPA’s assistant administrator for air pollution, and before joining the Obama administration worked for four Republican governors, including Mitt Romney in Massachusetts.
Louisiana Republican Senator David Vitter said he had asked five specific questions related to transparency in the EPA’s decision-making, and Republicans agreed to attend today’s meeting after getting new pledges from the EPA late yesterday. He said he would support McCarthy only if all five questions are answered to his satisfaction, which hasn’t happened yet. If he gets an adequate response, he will drop the threat of a filibuster, he said.
“I hope we won’t have a fight on the floor,” Vitter said at the committee hearing. “I hold out a positive path forward.”
Boxer said she didn’t know when McCarthy could gain a confirmation vote in the full Senate, as she would need to “round up” a few Republicans to support the nomination if Vitter insists on a filibuster. Overcoming a filibuster requires a super majority of 60 votes.
The Senate began debate on the nomination of Ernest Moniz to head the Energy Department, with a vote scheduled for later today.