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."