White House urges Dems to allow vote on EPA nominee

The White House Tuesday urged Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to allow a vote on the nomination of Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt to be Environmental Protection Agency administrator.

"We are urging the Senate to move forward in a bipartisan way, to vote him out of committee this week, so that the full Senate can then vote on his nomination," said White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan.

The committee was expected to give its approval Wednesday to the nomination, but Leavitt's eventual confirmation remains blocked by a barrage of Democratic objections to administration environmental policies.

On Oct. 1, Democrats on the panel blocked a vote on President Bush's nominee by boycotting the committee meeting.

Environment and Public Works ranking member James Jeffords, I-Vt., who joined Democrats in the boycott, said the holdup of the approval had "nothing to do with Mr. Leavitt's qualifications," but rather was a protest against the Bush administration's environmental policies.

After the boycotted meeting, Jeffords asked Environment and Public Works Chairman James Inhofe, R-Okla., for a two-week delay in the nominating process, so the administration could answer the 400 questions Democrats had submitted.

Although Jeffords said he remained unsatisfied with the responses he received, he noted Tuesday he would be willing to move forward with Leavitt's nomination.

"Out of respect for Gov. Leavitt, we will move forward with [the nomination]," Jeffords said. "However, the Bush administration's continued stonewalling of our efforts to obtain legitimate information regarding the wholesale rollback of the Clean Air Act and the development and implementation of other pending legislation is unacceptable. I expect to see that information before the Senate votes on this nomination."

Leavitt's approval by the Environment and Public Works Committee will still leave him facing a tough fight on the Senate floor. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., reiterated her intention last week to place a hold on Leavitt until Congress investigates the EPA's reports of the air quality in lower Manhattan following the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Meanwhile, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., questioned the EPA's commitment to clean air litigation in a letter sent Oct. 10 to the EPA's acting administrator. In particular, Lieberman questioned the status of one case in which the EPA had concluded the Tennessee Valley Authority violated the Clean Air Act when it undertook several site rehabilitation projects without first obtaining permits.

In his letter, Lieberman sought information from the agency on its efforts to ensure the polluted sites are being cleaned up.

In another letter, sent Tuesday to the agency, several House Democrats claim a new EPA advertising campaign on the administration's "Clear Skies" proposal could violate federal tax law.

The writers of that letter-House Government Reform ranking member Henry Waxman, D-Calif.; Energy and Commerce ranking member John Dingell, D-Mich.; and Appropriations ranking member David Obey, D-Wis.-said a new campaign of Spanish-language radio ads might amount to propaganda, for which taxpayer funds cannot be used.

The ads encourage support for "President Bush's Clear Skies Initiative" and urge support of the proposed legislation. The House Democrats' letter also suggests the ads might violate a federal law that prohibits federal officials from engaging in campaigns about pending legislation.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.