GOP to boycott EPA nominee vote

Republicans plan to boycott a scheduled panel confirmation vote Thursday for President Obama’s nominee to run the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee's eight GOP members allege Obama nominee Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyOvernight Energy: Critics accuse Interior's top lawyer of misleading Congress | Boaty McBoatface makes key climate change discovery | Outrage over Trump's order to trim science advisory panels Trump's order to trim science advisory panels sparks outrage Overnight Energy: Trump order to trim science panels sparks outrage | Greens ask watchdog to investigate Interior's records policies | EPA to allow use of pesticide harmful to bees MORE hasn’t answered their many questions fully, and say their absence Thursday will prevent a quorum under Senate and committee rules.

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“We do not ask or expect that you will agree with this decision. We do ask and expect that you will follow the rules of the Committee and the full U.S. Senate,” the Republicans led by ranking member David VitterDavid Bruce VitterGrocery group hires new top lobbyist Lobbying World Senate confirms Trump judge who faced scrutiny over abortion views MORE (R-La.) told Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerOnly four Dem senators have endorsed 2020 candidates Hispanic civil rights icon endorses Harris for president California AG Becerra included in Bloomberg 50 list MORE (D-Calif.), the committee's chairwoman, in a letter Thursday.

Boxer’s office did not comment Thursday morning when asked if she agrees with the GOP’s interpretation of the rules or whether the vote would proceed.

Republicans are citing a Senate rule that requires a majority of a committee to be physically present to take action, which will likely deny Democrats a quorum.

Committee member Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) has been an infrequent presence on Capitol Hill of late due to health concerns.

Republicans are also citing a committee rule that requires two members of the minority party to be present for certain actions. Here’s the short rule:

BUSINESS MEETINGS: At committee business meetings, and for
 the purpose of approving the issuance of a subpoena or approving
 a committee resolution, one third of the members of the committee, 
at least two of whom are members of the minority party, constitute
 a quorum, except as provided in subsection (d).

However, the “subsection (d)” referred to in the rule states that, “No measure or matter may be reported to the Senate by the committee unless a majority of committee members cast votes in person,” suggesting that perhaps Democrats could proceed with the vote if they were all there.

—This post was updated at 9:39 a.m.