Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2003
Mike Leavitt Nomination Proceeds to Senate
WASHINGTON (AP) - Ending a boycott, Democrats on the Senate
Environment and Public Works Committee joined Republicans in voting overwhelmingly to send
Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt's nomination as head of the Environmental Protection Agency to the
Senate floor for a vote.
The 19-member committee voted 16-2 on Wednesday to advance the Republican governor's
nomination - one senator, California's Barbara Boxer, didn't vote, saying Leavitt's
answers were too vague for a decision - though prospects for consideration of the
nomination by the full Senate are uncertain. The list of senators who said they would
block a floor vote continued to grow.
Democratic Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut
voted no, and Democrats continued to voice strong concerns about the Bush administration's
``We're not even treading water, we're going backwards,'' said Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada.
The committee's vote was allowed ``out of respect for Governor Leavitt,'' said Sen. James
Jeffords, I-Vt., speaking for himself and the Democrats who previously had boycotted a
Jeffords has demanded more information from the Bush administration and EPA on its air
pollution rules and other issues.
He said Tuesday that the administration's ``continued stonewalling of our efforts to
obtain legitimate information ... is unacceptable. I expect to see that information before
the Senate votes on this nomination.''
Jeffords preceded Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., as chairman of the committee. Jeffords
typically sides with the Democrats on environmental issues.
Inhofe and the nine other Republican members on the committee angrily denounced the
missing Democrats when they didn't show up at a meeting on Oct. 1, delaying the decision
on the nomination. The GOP members voted symbolically to back Leavitt even though there
not enough committee members present to make it official.
From the committee, Leavitt's nomination goes to the full Senate, where at least six
Democrats said they plan to block it from coming to a vote until their demands for
information are met.
Sens. Boxer and Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., who is not a committee member, added their names
Wednesday to those who said they would stand in the way. Others include: Clinton;
Lieberman, who is vying for the Democratic presidential nomination; two other Senate
Democrats running for president, John Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North
Carolina; and possibly another committee member, Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla.