The Senate appears likely to approve Gina McCarthy’s nomination to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), even in light of President Barack Obama’s extreme new climate change agenda. Enough Republicans are opposed to filibustering a presidential nominee, despite their opposition to the president’s plan to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, according to Politico.
McCarthy’s nomination may follow the same pattern as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s; only four Republicans voted to confirm Hagel, but eighteen voted against a filibuster. As long as the Senate avoids a filibuster, McCarthy will likely be confirmed.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has been recruiting Republicans to vote for McCarthy.
“We need 51 votes,” said Boxer. “So this is really about whether or not people would filibuster. So I just think that filibustering a presidential nominee is not going to go well with the people. So I don’t really worry too much about my colleagues on the Democratic side filibustering the president’s nominee.”
Last week, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) noted that she “had a good initial conversation” with McCarthy and affirmed that McCarthy is qualified for the job. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Republicans with more environmentally friendly records, are also likely to support the nomination.
“He’s the president; he’s got a right to put whoever’s name forward. Our job is to basically reject them or accept them,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Ak.) said.
However, Murkowski has concerns about the nomination. She is joined by senators like John Barrasso (R-Wy.) who accused McCarthy for being either “arrogant or ignorant” when she said that the EPA wasn’t pursuing greenhouse gas emissions for coal-powered plants. In addition, there are a few senators who are withholding approval, like Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) who is demanding progress on a water infrastructure project in his home state.
The Senate plans to move on the nomination sometime in July. McCarthy was officially nominated on March 4, 119 days ago—a record delay for an EPA nominee.
“This would be the first time EPA would be denied an administrator in its 40-year history. That’s pretty big,” said Manik Roy, vice president for strategic outreach at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. “Especially a nominee who is very obviously qualified and who would be very sensitive to industry concerns.”