Deal could ease path for vote on EPA nominee McCarthy

Senate Democrats and Republicans have reached an agreement expected to allow many pending Obama administration nominees, such as Gina McCarthy to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to be voted upon by the full Senate.

Following a meeting reportedly attended by nearly all 100 senators, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has agreed not to use the so-called “nuclear option” of severely restricting the minority GOP’s ability to filibuster nominees.

In turn Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has apparently agreed to let many nominees from President Obama go forward with an up-or-down vote. In recent times, the minority in the Senate has increasingly held up nominees who could not muster a 60-vote super-majority.

But national news organizations were reporting July 16 that a deal had been reached on the slow-moving nominations.

Much of the national news attention has been focused on Obama nominees to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

McCarthy had been approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in May in a largely party-line vote. President Obama had nominated McCarthy, already a top EPA official, in March to succeed the departing Lisa Jackson in the top job.

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., had recently indicated that he would no longer try to hold up the McCarthy nomination from receiving a vote. Vitter has been seeking greater transparency at EPA.

On July 16, Vitter said he supported a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit being brought against EPA by 12 state attorneys general. The state AGs are seeking more details on what critics describe as EPA’s “sue and settle” agreements with environmental groups.

Many observers had been touting McCarthy’s chance of a full Senate vote based on Vitter agreeing to back off a filibuster threat – a move that came prior to the so-called “nuclear option” deal.


About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at