Republicans request answers during vote postponement
May 9, 2013
Today, the eight Republicans on the Environment and Public Works Committee did not attend the nomination vote of Gina McCarthy to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), leading to a postponement of the vote for a period yet to be determined. On April 25, 2013, the Committee Republicans asked Chairman Barbara Boxer to postpone the nomination vote because they had not yet received answers to their five main requests.
"This is nothing new. In 2003, Sen. Boxer boycotted the nomination of Governor Levitt because of unanswered questions just as we are doing today, and back then as chairman, I respectfully delayed the vote. Today Chairwoman Boxer returned that courtesy and decided to give the nominee additional time to respond to the concerns of the minority members. As Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I stood behind my members who had similar concerns. I now stand behind Senator Vitter," said Sen. Inhofe.
"The new nominee to be EPA Administrator has been extremely unresponsive with the information we requested. We're not asking to amend any bedrock environmental laws. We're asking for access to the scientific data and reasoning behind the justification for expensive new rules and regulations that continue to cause high unemployment. We're simply requesting that Ms. McCarthy and this Administration honor its commitment to transparency-that's what they promised," said Sen. Barrasso.
"Far too many federal regulations, many from the EPA, make it harder to do business and maintain jobs while providing little benefit to their intended purposes," Sen. Crapo said. "Gina McCarthy, the nominee to lead the EPA, must provide adequate answers to the legitimate questions and requests from members of the EPW Committee."
"The five core requests that we jointly submitted relate to an open, honest and transparent government. The joint requests do not ask EPA to change any specific environmental policy. If the agency adequately responds to the all five of these requests, I am confident Ms. McCarthy's nomination could move through the Committee and the Senate floor," Sen. Boozman said.
Below is the text of a letter from EPW Republicans to Chairman Barbara Boxer today notifying her that no Republican would be attending.
May 9, 2013
Dear Madame Chairman:
As you know, all Republicans on our EPW Committee have asked EPA to honor five very reasonable and basic requests in conjunction with the nomination of Gina McCarthy which focus on openness and transparency. While you have allowed EPA adequate time to fully respond before any mark-up on the nomination, EPA has stonewalled on four of the five categories.
Because of this, no Republican member of the Committee will attend today's mark-up if it is held.
We do not ask or expect that you will agree with this decision. We do ask and expect that you will follow the rules of the Committee and the full U.S. Senate.
Rule 2(a) of the Committee rules requires that at least two members of the minority party be present to constitute a quorum, which is necessary for the Committee to take action.
Rule XXVI 7(a)(1) of the Senate rules requires that a majority of any Committee be physically present to take action. This is a requirement enforceable on the Senate floor, a fact confirmed by the Senate Parliamentarian's office.
In addition, there is clear Committee precedent regarding this. In 2003, Democratic members of the EPW Committee chose not to attend the scheduled mark-up of Michael Leavitt as President Bush's nominee to head the EPA, pending the EPA's responding more fully to their requests. Then-Chairman Inhofe followed the rules cited above and scheduled an official mark-up for two weeks later. We ask and expect that you do the same.
We also ask that you read this letter at any Committee meeting held today and place it in the record.
Thank you for your leadership of the Committee.