Thursday, July 11 will mark 130 days since Gina McCarthy was nominated to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. It is the longest period in American history that an EPA Administrator has had to wait for confirmation. In fact, McCarthy’s wait eclipses the old record by nearly a month and a half.
Thursday morning, on the floor of the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke about how Senate Republicans were “blocking qualified nominees because they refuse to accept the law of the land.” He highlighted McCarthy’s nomination, which he said has been delayed because “Republicans fundamentally oppose the mission of the agency: EPA, which protects the water we drink and the air we breathe.” McCarthy’s hearing was delayed for a time to give Ranking Member David Vitter time to consider the nomination, and still, as Senator Reid said, “this is a World Series deal here, this holds the record, she had over 1100 questions.”
Reid concluded: “We should all be able to agree, that presidents deserve the team members they want, and their nomination be subject to a simple up-or-down vote.”
Earlier this week, lead McCarthy opponent Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) dropped his opposition to a vote on McCarthy’s nomination. The Hill reported that Vitter said “I see no further reason to block Gina McCarthy’s nomination, and I’ll support moving to an up-or-down vote on her nomination.”
Nonetheless, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), continues to place a “hold” on her nomination, which means that he would filibuster her nomination if it should come to the Senate floor. Blunt’s opposition ignores McCarthy’s record as an experienced professional who has worked closely with state, business, and environmental leaders. Her bipartisan record of service and consensus-building approach to policymaking have earned praise from both Republicans and Democrats. For instance, former Republican Massachusetts Governor Jane Swift wrote that:
The Senate has an immediate opportunity to strike a blow for good government and bureaucratic competence by swiftly approving McCarthy’s nomination. During the past four years at the EPA and during McCarthy’s two decades working for Democratic and Republican governors alike, McCarthy has achieved a long list of environmental and public health accomplishments.
Recent Small Business Majority polling determined that small business owners support Gina McCarthy’s nomination to head the EPA. It found that 58 percent of small business owners surveyed support Gina McCarthy’s nomination due to her bi-partisan credentials and success working with business and industry leaders.
An array of business leaders also publicly praised the selection of McCarthy, as have many scientists. Six former past presidents of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) lauded her record of promoting “science-based regulation while demonstrating flexibility in addressing the legitimate concerns of the regulated community.”
Sixty-eight national, state, and local organizations representing millions of sportsmen also wrote to the Senate asking for McCarthy’s nomination, saying she is “adept at working with diverse stakeholders and decision-makers at all levels of government, and has consistently placed conservation stewardship above political ideology.”
The EPA is the first line of defense to protect our children, parents, and other vulnerable people from harmful air, water, and climate pollution. Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe has done a stellar job, but our health and safety require a permanent Administrator to develop, implement and enforce health safeguards.
In addition, the next EPA administrator will play an essential role in efforts to reduce domestic carbon pollution. On June 25, President Obama said:
For the sake of our children and the health and safety of all Americans, I’m directing the Environmental Protection Agency to put an end to the limitless dumping of carbon pollution from our power plants and complete new pollution standards for both new and existing power plants.
It requires a knowledgeable, dedicated, fair, permanent EPA administrator to develop, implement and enforce such carbon pollution reduction standards.
Gina McCarthy is the most scrutinized EPA nominee in history. She has responded to an unprecedented 1,000+ questions from Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. She has jumped through the hoops and passed the tests with flying colors.
Next week Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) could have the Senate vote on cloture to end a filibuster on Gina McCarthy’s nomination, and allow a final up or down vote. Senators should join Sen. Vitter by voting for cloture, which would allow a final vote on her confirmation. Then they should vote to confirm Gina McCarthy as the 13th permanent EPA administrator. America’s health and safety can’t wait any longer.