By Ben Geman - 07/09/13 06:31 PM EDT
The top Republican on the Senate’s environment committee on Tuesday dropped his threat to filibuster President Obama’s nomination of Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyGlobal climate pact may bump into Senate roadblock House Dems push EPA on fracking study Watchdog: EPA was too slow to act on Flint MORE to run the Environmental Protection Agency.
The move by Sen. David VitterDavid VitterDavid Duke gets debate slot in La. Senate race GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election Trump’s implosion could cost GOP in Louisiana Senate race MORE (R-La.), who said he won “huge” EPA commitments to be more open with data, comes as Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidPelosi blasts GOP leaders for silence on Trump Latinos build a wall between Trump and White House in new ad The true (and incredible) story of Hill staffers on the industry payroll MORE (D-Nev.) has threatened to change Senate rules to ease passage of stalled nominations.
“These are huge, significant steps forward to bringing transparency to the agency, and 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,” he added.
McCarthy is currently the EPA’s top air pollution regulator. Vitter’s action brings the Senate a step closer to a vote on the nomination, which the White House first sent to the Senate four months ago.
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerHouse and Senate water bills face billion difference Boxer, Feinstein endorse Kamala Harris in two-Dem Senate race Dems gain upper hand on budget MORE (D-Calif.) and an aide to Reid said earlier on Tuesday that a vote on McCarthy could come next week.
Vitter’s action does not guarantee, however, that the path has been fully cleared for McCarthy.
Sen. Roy BluntRoy BluntGOP senator: 'Highly unlikely’ voter fraud sways election GOP senators avoid Trump questions on rigged election Dems, GOP bet on different strategies in race for Senate MORE (R-Mo.) months ago placed a procedural “hold” on her nomination, protesting what he called federal “gridlock” surrounding a flood control project in his state.
On Tuesday Blunt said his “hold” on the nomination remains.
He said EPA, the Interior Department and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have failed to demonstrate that they have ended bureaucratic infighting over the St. Johns Bayou-New Madrid Floodway Project.
Blunt, in a statement, said “I look forward to hearing conclusively whether the Corps, EPA, and [Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service] have reached an agreement on all of the facts surrounding this project.”
Vitter and several other Republicans, meanwhile, have blocked McCarthy as leverage in their quest for more “transparency” from the EPA.
Vitter’s office said Tuesday that the EPA made several commitments.
They include mandatory retraining of more than 17,000 workers on public records law, and publishing online, upon receipt, outside groups' petitions for rulemaking and notices of intent to sue.
Republicans have been attacking what they contend is an un-transparent “sue and settle” technique of policymaking.
He also claimed victories on the EPA’s use of data.
“EPA has initiated the process of obtaining the requested scientific information, as well as reaching out to relevant institutions for information on how to de-identify and code personally identifying information that may be in any of the data. For the first time we should be able to determine if there is any way of independently re-analyzing the science and benefits claims for a suite of major air regulations,” Vitter’s office said in a summary of what it called new commitments from the EPA.
This post was last updated at 4:29 p.m.
Zack Colman contributed