Washington, D.C.--Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, released the following statement in response to today’s minority boycott of the vote on Gov. Leavitt’s nomination to be the next EPA Administrator:

“The EPW minority today publicly shunned the committee’s bipartisan tradition by boycotting the nomination of Gov. Mike Leavitt to be the next EPA Administrator. The minority subjected Gov. Leavitt to nearly 400 questions, an unprecedented amount, which, incidentally, he answered in fairly short order.

In a letter sent to me last night, the minority complained Gov. Leavitt was not ‘responsive’ enough. As the letter stated, the minority needs more information ‘so that they may evaluate the qualifications of the individual who has been nominated.’

“This is odd, and indeed contradictory, considering that the ranking minority member of this committee said during the markup that, not only would he vote for him, but also that he believes Gov. Leavitt is qualified for this position. How could one pledge a vote of support if the nominee’s qualifications are in doubt? And if Gov. Leavitt is qualified, why is any further evaluation necessary?

I might add that the Democrats on this committee made similar remarks during Gov. Leavitt’s nomination hearing. Put simply, there is no one who has any doubt that Mike Leavitt is an outstanding choice for this job.

“As is obvious, the boycott today was inspired by partisan presidential politics. It was an affront to the committee and insulting to a nominee who has widespread support from Republicans and Democrats alike. I sincerely hope the minority will put an end to such posturing. If they care about the environment, they will vote for Mike Leavitt to be the next EPA Administrator.”