World and Nation

Republicans block vote on nominee to lead EPA

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans continued a campaign to delay confirmation of President Barack Obama’s second-term Cabinet-level nominees on Thursday, blocking a committee vote on Gina McCarthy, the president’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

The action came a day after Republicans on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee threw a wrench in the nomination of Thomas E. Perez to be labor secretary, delaying it for at least a week.

In both cases, Republican committee members said the nominees had failed to adequately respond to their questions.

The eight Republicans on the Environment and Public Works Committee, led by the ranking member Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, boycotted a committee meeting to protest what they called McCarthy’s “unresponsive answers” to more than 1,000 written questions about EPA policies and internal practices.

Democrats were unable to muster a majority to move the nomination without any Republicans present and were left to fulminate in a near-empty committee room over what several of them called Republican obstructionism. Committee Democrats are likely to regroup and try to approve McCarthy’s nomination along party lines, but it is unclear whether they could clear a 60-vote threshold on the Senate floor.

Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. and the majority leader, accused Republicans of using procedural roadblocks and stall tactics to deny confirmation to qualified nominees.