Drama in the Senate EPW

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By Kellan Lyman, Member Action Associate

It’s been a dramatic process, but EPA administrator-nominee, Gina McCarthy has finally been approved by the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee.  First, she had to answer more than a 1,000 questions, an unprecedented amount for a nominee.  About half of these questions came from our very own Sen. David Vitter.  McCarthy answered the questions and was set to have a committee vote to approve her the morning of May 9th.  Half an hour before the meeting, committee Democrats received news that Republicans, led by good, ole Vitter were boycotting the hearing and preventing her approval, as no members of the minority party were going to be present.

Dems in the Committee were determined to get Ms. McCarthy through.  If all ten majority party members were present, the committee can vote to confirm a nominee.  This meant that Sen. Frank Lautenberg who has been suffering from illness would have to travel to vote in person.  A champion of clean air, he reassured the team he would be there to confirm Gina.

‘More openness and transparency’ is what Vitter called for from the EPA.  After meeting with the EPA and Gina McCarthy, David must have been satisfied that his requests were on their way to being met; he ended the boycott in time for a 10-8 partisan vote.

Chairwoman Boxer wasn’t pleased with a party line vote, especially for a bipartisan candidate like McCarthy who has served under four Republican Governors (including Mitt Romney) and one Democratic President.  So it goes; the next step is onto the Senate floor where she must receive 60 votes to be confirmed.

As for the next stage, Vitter laid his cards on the table: he would filibuster, he wouldn’t filibuster, or he would vote for her.  All these depend on how he perceives EPA’s efforts to meet his transparency requests.

Vitter’s tactic to target McCarthy is unnecessarily obstructionist, especially when we look at her track record.  She has been praised by businessmen and environmentalists alike for working together to solve problems.  Even GOP members don’t dislike Gina, which makes the boycott even more legitimate.  Even Bush-era EPA administrator, Christine Todd Whitman says this boycott makes the Republicans look like “sore losers.”

So give Sen. Vitter a ring today and let him know you support Gina McCarthy and encourage him to vote for her.  It’s not hard and won’t take long.  You’ll probably speak with a very friendly and nervous intern, and David Vitter will know that the people of Louisiana stand with Gina McCarthy.  His office number is (504) 589-2753.

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