Republican senators boycotted the vote of President Barack Obama’s EPA nominee, Gina McCarthy, saying they were unsatisfied by the answers she gave them on several topics.
The dispute from Republicans over the latest nomination to Obama’s cabinet stems from more than 1,000 written questions Republican senators asked McCarthy after her confirmation hearing.
Democrats say the GOP set a new record for the number of questions asked of a nominee. An administration official added that McCarthy answered every question.
But Republicans decided to boycott the Senate Environmental Committee meeting on Thursday. The move was just the latest in a series by Republicans that have made it difficult for the Democratic president to fill in his second-term Cabinet.
Senator David Vitter (R-LA), the top Republican on the Environmental Committee, explained to reporters that the Republicans’ boycott of McCarthy’s vote was not because of her qualifications. Rather, it came after her refusal to answer questions about transparency within the Environmental Protection Agency.
All eight Republicans of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee boycotted Thursday’s scheduled vote. Democrats appeared apologetic about the situation, with committee chairwoman Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), saying at the start of the hearing:
“I’ve been informed just a few minutes ago that the Republicans are boycotting this markup for…perhaps the most qualified nominee to ever head the Environmental Protection Agency. I am rather stunned that this has happened, frankly, because I have never seen a nominee in my life answer more questions than Gina McCarthy has done.”
Republicans boycotting the vote of McCarthy’s confirmation on Thursday left the situation in limbo. In order to advance to a full Senate vote, the EPA chief nominee must first be confirmed through the committee. The White House responded to the Republicans’ boycott with outrage. White House spokesman Jay Carney stated, “There has been a historic level of obstructionism from the Senate on this nominee and others.”
It is no clear when the committee will reschedule the vote to confirm McCarthy. She is expected to pass, as Democrats hold a majority of the panel. However, if (or when) McCarthy’s nomination does pass through committee, she will likely face similar boycotts from Republicans in the Senate, including Roy Blunt (R-MO), who stated he will put a hold on McCarthy in the full Senate.
[Image via United States Government]