Reid, McConnell spar on EPA nomination in ‘nuclear’ debate

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“Although she has a proven record track record of public service and will help to bring environmentalists and business groups together to tackle the serious environmental challenges facing our nation, her nomination drags on and just lingers,” said Reid, who noted McCarthy’s past work for Republican governors.

Reid’s remarks on the floor were part of his wider criticism of Republicans Thursday, alleging they have engaged in historic obstruction of presidential nominees.

They come as Senate Democrats are readying to huddle Thursday to discuss whether to use the “nuclear option,” which means changing Senate rules by majority vote to bar filibusters on nominees.

Reid also said he would file cloture, a procedural move that sets the clock ticking towards a vote, on several nominations this week, which could set up a vote on McCarthy as soon as next week.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blasted Reid for weighing the nuclear option that would end the 60-vote threshold currently in place for filibustered nominees.

“That would violate every protection of minority rights that have defined the United States Senate for as long as anyone can remember,” McConnell said.

On McCarthy, McConnell said she and Thomas Perez, the nominee for secretary of Labor, already has enough votes to clear the 60-vote margin but that Reid has failed to schedule votes.

He cast the plan to employ the “nuclear option” as a bow to “big labor” that’s upset over nominees to the National Labor Relations Board. A court has ruled Obama illegally put in place the nominees with recess appointments.

“They’re the ones – Democrats – who have yet to schedule votes on the McCarthy and Perez nominations, despite the fact that both of these highly controversial nominees already have enough votes to clear a 60-vote hurdle,” McConnell said.

But Reid later said Republicans use procedural tactics that make it tough to bring nominees to the floor.

“Stall, obstruct is what we have around here. It is very hard to schedule votes,” Reid said.