Senate Republicans Thursday blocked a vote on the nomination of Gina McCarthy to head the Environmental Protection Agency, a move that angered Democrats who said the former commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection deserved an “up or down vote.”
“These obstructionist tactics undermine public leadership in safeguarding our environment,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal.
The Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee had scheduled a vote on the nomination of McCarthy for the top EPA job, which the White House announced in March. But all the Republicans on the committee boycotted the meeting Thursday morning, protesting Boxer’s decision to move forward on the nomination vote and claiming their questions had not been answered.
Blumenthal described the move as “paralyzing partisan gamemanship at its worst.”
Democrats who attended the committee meeting said McCarthy answered over 1,000 questions – more than any previous nominee. Committee chairwoman Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) described McCarthy as “one of the most qualified – perhaps the most qualified – nominee to ever head the Environmental Protection Agency.” She offered harsh criticism to the committee members who boycotted, especially ranking member Sen. David Vitter (R-LA).
“I was under the impression that as soon as he received an answer to the 1000 questions that they would allow us to move forward with this vote,” said Boxer.
Four years ago, McCarthy was confirmed by the full Senate to lead the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. She also worked for former Republican Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney.
“Romney was a big fan of Gina McCarthy. If he had won, and picked her to run EPA, think GOP would block her?” Sen. Murphy tweeted after the boycott.
There are 10 Democrats and eight Republicans on the committee, and senate rules require a majority of a committee to be present to take action. Because Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) has been absent for health reasons, Democrats were unable to muster that majority.