Last week, Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee thought of a way to derail, at least temporarily, Gina McCarthy's nomination to head the Environmental Protection Agency: they wouldn't show up for her confirmation vote. Today, that changed.
The original GOP plan was to prevent the committee from having the necessary quorum. Democrats had a way around that -- if every Dem member of the committee shows up, the Republican boycott becomes irrelevant -- but couldn't execute that strategy because Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) is 89 years old and is in poor health.
Today offered everyone another chance, with Lautenberg arriving in a wheelchair. Committee Republicans were given a choice: show up or don't, but either way, McCarthy is going to advance. So, they showed up.
A Senate panel on Thursday advanced the nomination of Gina McCarthy, President Obama's pick to run the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in a 10-8 party-line vote, signaling a possibly contentious confirmation fight ahead.The partisan vote could spell potential trouble for McCarthy if Republicans employ a filibuster on her nomination, which would require 60 votes to break.
We talked earlier about the likely Republican obstructionism on Thomas Perez's Labor Secretary nomination, but the fight over McCarthy is likely to be every bit as fierce. It's also likely to bolster filibuster-reform proponents, since filibustering a qualified EPA nominee for no reason would only reinforce the perception that the current confirmation process is broken.
In the meantime, Christine Todd Whitman, EPA administrator under President George W. Bush, thinks Senate Republicans are acting like "sore losers."