Saying she hopes Republicans on the panel will attend, Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer announced plans for a second attempt to vote on the "important nomination" of Gina McCarthy to head U.S. EPA.
The California Democrat announced late Friday that the panel will meet Thursday to once again try to send McCarthy's nomination to the Senate floor, a week after a Republican boycott scuttled the first attempt. Whether Republicans show up for this markup remains to be seen but is ultimately irrelevant.
With an appearance from New Jersey Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg, the Democrats on the panel will be able to advance the nomination on their own. Lautenberg, who has been ill in his home state, was not able to appear last week, but a spokesman said he does plan to make it to the vote this week.
Last Thursday, ranking member David Vitter (R-La.) led the other seven Republicans on the panel in a boycott of a planned vote on McCarthy's nomination, leaving Democrats shy of the required quorum. The GOP senators have objected to what they say are insufficient answers by EPA to a list of five transparency requests.
Under committee rules, in the absence of two minority members, all 10 majority members must be physically present to hold a vote.
However, even if the vote is successful, McCarthy is sure to face more trouble on the Senate floor. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) already has a hold on the nomination, and it's expected that Republicans will engineer another filibuster over the transparency questions.
In a letter to Vitter sent Friday, Boxer said she has delayed the vote on McCarthy for four weeks.
"Gina is a highly qualified nominee," Boxer wrote. "She has a demonstrated record of working with Republicans and Democrats, including four Republican Governors and a Democratic President. She has received support from businesses, health officials, environmental organizations, and scientists. We need her strong, bipartisan, common-sense approach to lead the EPA."
Last week, Boxer slammed the boycott as "unacceptable" and said it showed "how outside the mainstream" Republicans were (Greenwire, May 9).
A spokesman for Vitter did not comment before publication time about Republicans' plans for the markup.
On Thursday, Vitter said he was just asking for "openness and transparency" from the Obama administration. Republicans asked for a series of transparency commitments, including a promise from McCarthy to change EPA's Freedom of Information Act policies and to stop using alternative email accounts to conduct official business.
Schedule: The meeting will be Thursday, May 16, at noon in 406 Dirksen.