Republicans Boycott Vote on Obama's EPA Pick

| Thu May 9, 2013 2:03 PM EDT
U.S. President Barack Obama announces Gina McCarthy as his nominee to head the EPA in a March 4 ceremony in the East Room of the White House.

The Republican members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee boycotted a Thursday morning meeting in which they were supposed to vote on the nomination of Gina McCarthy to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Republicans on the committee complained that she had not yet adequately responded to their questions.

The vote had been scheduled for 9:15 a.m. on Thursday, but none of the committee's Republican members showed up.

Politico reports on what transpired:

Committee ranking member David Vitter (R-La.) announced the boycott by all eight GOP members around 8:30 a.m., saying they would deny the panel a quorum because McCarthy and the EPA haven't provided answers to the questions they'd posed.
Democrats have noted that the questions totaled more than 1,000 — what they call a record. Republicans also had five "requests" for EPA on issues such as how the agency handles outside groups' threats of litigation — though Democrats said the GOP senators were actually asking the agency to offer major concessions in how it conducts public business.

Democrats on the committee were quick to attack Republicans for this "obstruction." Committee chair Barbara Boxer noted that the vote had already been delayed for three weeks to accommodate the panel's Republican members.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid railed on the effort to block McCarthy in a statement on Thursday, noting that the GOP has also blocked President Obama's nominee to head the Department of Labor, Thomas Perez. "This type of blanket, partisan obstruction used to be unheard of," Reid said. "Now it has become an unacceptable pattern."

The blockade on McCarthy is even more noteworthy because, as we've reported here before, she worked for Mitt Romney back when he was governor of Massachusetts, as well as Connecticut's Republican former Gov. Jodi Rell.

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