The Senate is set to vote Friday on a nomination to lead the US Environmental Protection Agency, as a major blow to the embattled agency’s prospects.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is seeking to move the vote to Tuesday, which would leave Democrats unable to block the nomination.
A spokesman for McConnell told The Associated Press on Friday that the Senate is “close to finalizing” the nomination of Gina McCarthy, a climate change lawyer who was confirmed to head the agency in January.
McCarthy has been a frequent target of Republicans who say she lacks a clear grasp of climate change science and the role it plays in national policy.
The Associated News first reported on McCarthy’s nomination last month.
The Senate confirmed McCarthy, who has been in the agency since 2015, in March.
McConnell said she would be a “tremendous ally” of the president, according to the AP.
“Gina McCarthy has an extensive background in public service, and her experience as an administrator in the EPA and as an attorney with the EPA has been invaluable to the President and our country,” McConnell’s spokesman said in a statement.
“The President believes she is an outstanding choice for EPA leadership.”
Democrats have accused McConnell of trying to move a vote on McCarthy ahead of the White House’s planned announcement about the nominee.
Republicans have argued that McCarthy lacks the experience and knowledge to lead an agency with wide latitude to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
The Trump administration has taken steps to change how the agency operates, appointing a new administrator in February and reducing the number of EPA staff from nearly 7,000 to 5,000, including the elimination of several positions that are in the hands of senior staff.
The White House has said it wants to keep the EPA’s budget in line with the federal budget, which is $2.8 trillion.
Democrats have questioned the administration’s strategy and questioned whether the agency can handle the huge costs of regulating greenhouse gas emission.