By Zack Colman - 05/10/13 11:48 PM EDT
Democrats will try to advance Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nominee Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyChemical disasters: EPA plan would keep us in the dark Obama administration strengthens efficiency standards for large trucks Science board pushes EPA to change major fracking report MORE to the full Senate again next week after a GOP boycott thwarted attempts to do so Thursday.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who has been in ill health, will make the trip to the Capitol for the May 16 hearing, Caley Gray, a spokesman for Lautenberg, told The Hill. That would give the Senate Environment Public Works Committee a quorum for a vote.
The GOP’s absence and two missing Democrats — Sen. Max BaucusMax BaucusGlover Park Group now lobbying for Lyft Wyden unveils business tax proposal College endowments under scrutiny MORE (D-Mont.) also wasn’t present — left the committee two members shy of a quorum Thursday, thwarting a vote on McCarthy, EPA’s top air quality regulator.
Republicans are blocking McCarthy’s nomination because they want EPA to hand over more information about the data it uses to design regulations that the GOP and industry oppose. They say McCarthy has not fully answered inquiries about transparency at the agency.
Democrats contend McCarthy has answered more than 1,000 questions. They — along with President Obama — say Republicans are being “obstructionist.”
Committee Republicans might disagree that Democrats can proceed with a vote, citing committee rules.
Ranking member Sen. David VitterDavid VitterObama: Louisiana flooding 'not a photo op issue’ Louisiana senator calls on FEMA to open recovery centers Ryan's victory trumps justice reform opponents MORE (R-La.) cited committee rules that two members of the minority party must be present for a vote in a Thursday memo to committee Chairwoman Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerFeds weigh whether carbon pollution should be measured in highway performance Juan Williams: Dems should not take Latinos for granted Reid faces Sanders supporters' fury at DNC MORE (D-Calif.).
Staff members for committee Democrats maintain that Senate rules trump committee policy for such votes. Senate rules require one more lawmaker than half the total body — in this case, 10 lawmakers.
Even if the committee does advance McCarthy to the full Senate, confirming her could be difficult.
Republicans have floated the idea of employing a filibuster on her nomination, and it is unclear whether Democrats could escalate the 60-vote threshold.
Vitter’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
--This report was updated at 8:30 p.m.