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By Ari Natter
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said July 16 a vote on the nomination of Gina McCarthy to head the Environmental Protection Agency will “hopefully” occur this week, based on Senate leaders' agreement to proceed on several executive branch nominees.
While the exact timing of the Senate vote on McCarthy remained unclear July 16, a Senate leadership aide, speaking on background, told BNA her vote could come as soon as July 17.
Although Republicans have opposed McCarthy, who has overseen some of EPA's most significant air pollution regulations in her current position as assistant administrator for air and radiation, she is expected to garner at least 60 votes to invoke cloture or shut off debate on her nomination (134 DEN A-20, 7/12/13).
Reid's decision to bring up McCarthy comes as Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) told reporters July 16 that his hold on the nominee remains in place.
Blunt announced March 18 that he was placing a hold on McCarthy's nomination until the administration announces a schedule for the release of a draft environmental impact statement for the St. Johns Bayou and New Madrid Floodway Project, which would close a 1,500-foot gap in the Mississippi River levee system (53 DEN A-7, 3/19/13).
The vote on McCarthy is part of a larger deal worked out between Democratic and Republican Senate leaders to hold votes on several stalled Obama nominees after Reid threatened to change Senate rules to allow filibusters on executive branch nominees to be ended with 51 votes instead of 60.
The Senate voted July 16 to approve the nomination of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
A vote to invoke cloture on the nomination of Fred P. Hochberg to serve a second term as head of the Export-Import Bank is scheduled for July 17.
In addition, votes were expected on Thomas Perez to be labor secretary and on two new appointments to the National Labor Relations Board.
McCarthy, whose nomination was announced in March, has been criticized by several Senate Republicans, including members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, who at one point boycotted a confirmation vote and submitted over 1,000 questions to her for written responses.
The committee eventually approved her nomination on a party-line 10-8 vote May 16 (96 DEN A-1, 5/17/13).
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