Gov. Leavitt, one of the most eminently qualified and non-controversial nominees for EPA Administrator, remains in limbo--in fact, 50 days have elapsed since he was formally nominated by President Bush on September 3.
Compare that time period--the day the Senate received the nomination until final confirmation--with previous administrator nominees: in 1989, William Reilly took 12 days; in 1993, Carol Browner took 1 day (hearing and markup were held 10 days prior to receiving her nomination); and in 2001, Christine Whitman took 10 days.
Note that Carol Browner was far more controversial than Gov. Leavitt--before getting the nomination Browner worked for environmental advocacy groups. By contrast, Gov. Leavitt was chairman of the National Governors Association, the Western Governors Association, and has been governor of Utah for 11 years.
Democrats in the Senate and at the state level have endorsed him, including Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico and former Gov. Parris Glendening of Maryland.
Following are statements from Sens. Inhofe, Cornyn, Voinovich, Warner, Crapo, Chafee, Thomas, and Allard:
Chairman Inhofe: “Partisanship and presidential politics are blocking a highly qualified individual, with overwhelming bipartisan support, to lead a critically important federal agency--one that has extensive jurisdiction over the nation’s environmental policies. This nomination is as much about Gov. Leavitt as it is about leadership at EPA. Would the shareholders of a corporation tolerate the absence of a CEO for 50 days? The American people deserve steady leadership to guide EPA in decisions that have pervasive impacts on the nation’s health and environment.”
Sen. Cornyn: “Obstruction won’t clean the air, protect our rivers and streams, or preserve our environment for future generations. If the President’s critics are truly committed to protecting and preserving the environment, they should put aside their political agenda, leave the special interest groups at the door and allow the Senate to vote on Gov. Leavitt’s nomination. Once they do, he will be confirmed by an overwhelming, bi-partisan majority.”
Sen. Voinovich: “I cannot think of anyone who is better suited to lead the EPA. Governor Leavitt has continuously demonstrated the tremendous interpersonal skills and management experience necessary to handle the major challenges that the agency faces during the months and years ahead. He cares deeply about the environment and will pull people together to get things done. The Democrat obstruction of his nomination is unprecedented, unwarranted, and unnecessary.”
Sen. Warner: “I am confident, having met Gov. Leavitt, and studied his impressive career, that he can bring strong, effective leadership to the Environmental Protection Agency. He deserves the strongest possible support all along the way, and I hope the full Senate will get the chance to vote on his nomination as quickly as possible.”
Sen. Crapo: "Governor Leavitt is obviously very committed to clean air, water, and human health. The kind of political attacks directed at his nomination are obstructive to our collective effort to improve the environment, and it is egregious that his nomination has now been held up for fifty days. It is very clear that Leavitt is an excellent choice and a qualified candidate. He has consistently demonstrated leadership, courage, and creativity in dealing with environmental questions in his home state, and I feel confident that he will utilize his experience to make further environmental improvements. Above all, he has focused on collaborative solutions to environmental problems, recognizing the need to bring people together on polarizing issues to reach manageable solutions. Governor Leavitt is well qualified to navigate and negotiate the issues important to Idaho and the West. With an overwhelming and bipartisan majority supporting the nomination, the partisan posturing should stop and the nomination process should be allowed to move forward.”
Sen. Chafee: “As an environmentalist and Republican United States Senator, I am all too familiar with the polarized situation that Governor Mike Leavitt will face as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. With the tremendous management and political skills that Governor Leavitt possesses, I am confident that he will be an effective leader, bringing people together in a positive way.”
Sen. Thomas: “Governor Leavitt has the knowledge, experience, and temperament to serve this country and continue President Bush’s progress on the environment. His nomination has overwhelming bipartisan Senate support, with the exception of the few Democratic Presidential hopefuls who have threatened to hold up Gov. Leavitt’s nomination. We cannot allow presidential politics or partisan bickering to sacrifice a nominee with a proven record of environmental accomplishments. The full Senate must act quickly to confirm Mike Leavitt.”
Sen. Allard: “Governor Leavitt's thoughtful and balanced approach to our nation's environmental challenges is exactly why the voices of extremism oppose his nomination. Governor Leavitt's common sense environmental record apparently threatens their political agenda.”