Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) questioned the Republican Party's commitment to women after Senate Republicans boycotted a vote for Gina McCarthy, the president's nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, and showed no indication they'll show up for a rescheduled vote this week.
Boxer, chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, has scheduled a second committee vote on McCarthy for Thursday. "So far, they haven't suggested that they're going to be there, which is quite irritating," Boxer told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday afternoon. "She's probably the most qualified person ever nominated for the EPA. She's worked for four Republican governors. She's answered more than a thousand of their questions. And they've all voted for her before for other positions. It just makes no sense to me. This woman deserves a promotion.
"They say they're for womens' advancement," Boxer continued. "Here's a clear case where they ought to prove it."
Republicans skipped the committee's vote Thursday, preventing a quorum on whether to send McCarthy’s nomination to the full Senate. Under Senate rules, a majority of committee members must be present for a vote. That means Boxer needed 10 members of the committee to show up. The absence of committee Republicans as well as Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) left Democrats with only eight. Lautenberg's poor health has kept him from the Hill recently. Baucus was attending another hearing.
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), the ranking member on the committee, submitted five "transparency" questions on McCarthy ahead of his meeting Tuesday with EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe. Requests ranged from improving the agency’s response to Freedom of Information Act requests to reviewing McCarthy's private email accounts. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), a member of the committee, told HuffPost there was "some progress on one or two of those questions" and "ongoing conversations to see if there might be some common ground on the other three."
"I'm just encouraged there are good discussions going on," Carper said. "I think it's in good faith on both sides."
John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), a Republican on the committee, didn't sound particularly open to negotiation. "I believe the EPA is failing America," he said. "I believe Gina McCarthy has been a significant part of that failure over the past four years. I opposed her nomination and will continue to oppose her nomination."
Boxer, meanwhile, seemed to leave the door open for Republicans. "If I got a letter from them saying they would help us get a quorum -- that's all I ask. If they want to vote no on her, fine. Just come to the hearing. Do your job."
But she isn't counting on them showing up. "If I got such a letter," she told reporters, "I will let you know. But at this point, I have not gotten assurances from them that they intend to be present."
Also on HuffPost:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who's leading a lawsuit to block the EPA from limiting carbon emissions at power plants, wants new environmental regulations shelved until the economy picks up. In a speech on Monday, he called for a <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bL_HRH8DyqE" target="_hplink">moratorium on all regulations</a> until the economy picks up. Anna Greenberg, Democratic pollster with Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, warned that Perry's candidacy could pressure other Republican hopefuls to adopt even more extreme positions. "There is no evidence that a general electorate favors eliminating the EPA or environmental regulations in general," Greenberg told HuffPost in an email. "I do think that as the Republican presidential candidates are pushed even farther to the right by the entry of Rick Perry into the race, it makes it harder for them to appeal to general election voters."
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/23/2012-republicans-take-aim-at-epa_n_883182.html" target="_hplink">has dubbed</a> the regulatory agency the greatest threat to American jobs. "Every time liberals get into office, they pass an omnibus bill of big spending projects," Bachmann said in a recent CNN debate. "What we need to do is pass the mother of all repeal bills ... that will get rid of job killing regulations. And I would begin with the EPA because there is no other agency like the EPA. It should really be renamed the 'Job Killing Organization of America.'" Bachmann has suggested that she would eliminate the EPA were she to be elected to the White House. But that hasn't stopped her from petitioning the regulatory agency for direct financial help or aid, HuffPost's <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/10/michele-bachmann-stimulus_n_922851.html" target="_hplink">Sam Stein and Jason Cherkis first reported</a>.
Jon Huntsman has called for a moratorium on environmental regulations until the economy picks up. And, in <a href="http://blog.chron.com/txpotomac/2011/08/epa-and-obama-energy-policy-take-beatings-during-gop-debate-even-without-rick-perry-there/" target="_hplink">last week's Iowa Republican presidential debate</a>, he called for an end to the "EPA's regulatory reign of terror." "We don't make things anymore in this country," he said. "We need to start making things in this country. And in order to do that, we need serious regulatory reform, not just repealing Obamacare, but ending the EPA's regulatory reign of terror." During his time as governor of Utah, he was an outspoken proponent of cap and trade, but he has since backtracked on the position, telling Fox News that such measures could cripple an already beleaguered economy. "Everybody talked about it. At least a lot of people did," Huntsman said. "Every governor was talking about dealing with emissions back many, many years ago only to find that with the economic implosion, we can't afford anything that is going to put any kind of hamper on economic growth."
Presidential hopeful Herman Cain, the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza, has vowed to effectively gut the EPA within a month of being elected, handing environmental regulatory duties over to an "independent commission" to be headed by oil and gas executives.
Newt Gingrich <a href="ttp://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/01/25/140762/newt-epa-abolish/" target="_hplink">has also called for</a> the total elimination of the agency, suggesting it be replaced with a new organization that would work more closely with businesses and push for the integration of more science and technology. "What you have is a very expensive bureaucracy that across the board makes it harder to solve problems, slows down the development of new innovations," Gingrich <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/25/newt-gingrich-epa-should-_n_813873.html" target="_hplink">said in an interview with the Associated Press</a>.
Ron Paul, when asked about the role of the EPA in an interview with Grist from a few years ago, called the regulatory agency "completely unnecessary." <a href="http://www.grist.org/article/paul1" target="_hplink">From the interview:</a> <blockquote>Environmental protection in the U.S. should function according to the same premise as "prior restraint" in a newspaper. Newspapers can't print anything that's a lie. There has to be recourse. But you don't invite the government in to review every single thing that the print media does with the assumption they might do something wrong. The EPA assumes you might do something wrong; it's a bureaucratic, intrusive approach and it favors those who have political connections.</blockquote>
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has opposed the regulation of carbon dioxide and other gases contributing to global warming. On the campaign trail in New Hampshire, he said the federal agency shouldn't have the authority to cap greenhouse gas emissions. "I think we may have made a mistake, we have made a mistake is what I believe, in saying that the EPA should regulate carbon emissions," he said. "I don't think that was the intent of the original legislation, and I don't think carbon is a pollutant in the sense of harming our bodies."