Thursday, May 09, 2013

Republicans Boycott EPA Administrator Nomination Vote

May 9: The eight Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee issued a release and letter indicating that they would not attend the nomination vote of Gina McCarthy to head the U.S. EPA. On April 25, 2013 the Committee Republicans asked Chairman Barbara Boxer to postpone the nomination vote because they had not received answers to their questions. That request was denied. On May 2, EPW Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said that McCarthy had responded to all of the questions submitted by members of the EPW Committee, including over 1,000 questions submitted by Republicans on the Committee. On May 6, EPW Ranking Member David Vitter (R-LA) released 123-page of questions and McCarthy responses, but he said, "the unresponsive answers received are unacceptable. . ." [See WIMS 5/7/13]. Today, the Senators made the following statement today:

    "For too long EPA has failed to deliver on the promises of transparency espoused by President Barack Obama, former Administrator Lisa Jackson, and by Gina McCarthy. Accordingly, the Republicans on the EPW Committee 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.  While Chairman Boxer has allowed EPA adequate time to fully respond before any mark-up on the nomination, EPA has stonewalled on four of the five categories.  We ask and expect that Chairman Barbara Boxer will follow the rules of the Committee and the full U.S. Senate."

    The Republicans cited: (1) Rule 2(a) of the EPW Committee rules that require at least two members of the minority party to be present to constitute a quorum, which is necessary for the Committee to take action; and (2) Rule XXVI 7(a)(1) of the Senate rules require that a majority of any Committee be physically present to take action. This is a requirement enforceable on the Senate floor, a fact confirmed by the Senate Parliamentarian's office.

    On April 10, the EPW Republicans released five transparency concerns (four of which remain unresolved) they have with the U.S. EPA -- FOIA Failures; Inconsistent E-mail Practices and Policies; Transparency through Data Access; Snapshot Approach Toward Economic Analysis Doesn't Work; Share 'Intent to Sue' Notices with the Public. The Republican claim that McCarthy did not  address their concerns. In their letter to Chairman Boxer, the GOP Members indicate, ". . .there is clear Committee precedent regarding this.  In 2003, Democratic members of the EPW Committee chose not to attend the scheduled mark-up of Michael Leavitt as President Bush's nominee to head the EPA, pending the EPA's responding more fully to their requests.  Then-Chairman Inhofe followed the rules cited above and scheduled an official mark-up for two weeks later.  We ask and expect that you do the same."

    The eight minority members on the EPW include: Vitter, David (LA); Inhofe, James M. (OK); Barrasso, John (WY); Sessions, Jeff (AL); Crapo, Mike (ID); Wicker, Roger F. (MS) Boozman, John (AR); and Fischer, Deb (NE).

    Kevin Knobloch, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) issued a statement saying, "I'm disappointed that the vote has been delayed. The EPA has important work to do and needs a leader at the helm. Americans have made it clear they'd like to see Congress working together. I hope the committee reschedules the vote quickly. From a science perspective, Gina McCarthy is a very strong choice. That's why past presidents of the American Association for the Advancement of Science sent a letter to Committee Chair Barbara Boxer and Ranking Minority Member David Vitter endorsing her nomination. Ms. McCarthy has repeatedly demonstrated her commitment to science. She also has shown she is willing to address valid concerns raised by industry.  She is the kind of nominee -- a person of rigor and integrity -- that Americans will be proud to have heading up one of our most important agencies."   

    Access a release including links to details on their transparency concerns and the letter from the Republicans (click here). Access the 123-pages of questions and responses (click here). Access a release and links to further information from UCS (click here). [#All]

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