On a party-line vote, a key Senate committee on Thursday approved the nomination of Gina McCarthy to head the Environmental Protection Agency, a significant step forward for the controversial nominee and one that ends, at least temporarily, a bitter fight between Republicans and Democrats.
But while Democrats expressed relief that Ms. McCarthy — whose qualifications for the job aren’t questioned by either said — got the OK, they expressed disappointment in the lack of GOP votes. Republican members continue to push for greater transparency from the nominee and from the EPA as a whole and argue the agency hasn’t been as open and honest as it has promised to be.
“I can’t celebrate a partisan vote. I just can’t,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat and chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
But that vote was blocked by Republicans, led by ranking member Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, who staged a boycott of the scheduled vote as they waited for full answers to a laundry list of questions.
Mr. Vitter said the EPA on Wednesday committed to addressing to the transparency concerns, and that agreement allowed him to lift the Republican boycott and allow the nomination process to move forward.
“We’re finally making real progress,” he said just before the votes were cast. “As of last night, there has been meaningful progress in terms of our five key transparency requests.”
Those five questions have included the EPA’s policy on the use of personal email accounts, something that’s dogged the agency since it was revealed former Administrator Lisa Jackson conducted official business via email under the alias “Richard Windsor.”
Republicans also are seeking copies of unredacted emails, more research documents that drive EPA policy and other information.
Ms. McCarthy was approved with all 10 committee Democrats voting “yes,” and all eight committee Republicans voting “no.”
Her nomination now moves to the full Senate.