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FCW : April 30, 2014
Capitol Hill April 30, 2014 FCW.COM 19 For Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, getting to know Capitol Hill has not been a pleasant experience. Her Sen- ate con rmation process last- ed more than four months and required her to jump through multiple hoops for Republi- can members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Her subsequent attempts to work with the con- gressional GOP have not been much easier. In contrast to the Defense Department s budget con ict, EPA is battling with Congress over its regulatory authority. During recent House and Senate hearings, Republi- cans have challenged EPA s initiatives --- mandated by President Barack Obama --- to reduce power-plant emissions that contribute to climate change. House Republicans have responded with legisla- tive efforts to stymie EPA. A leading House ally of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told McCarthy that Congress is at war with her agency. Republicans wariness of an activist EPA have been com- pounded by Obama s attempts to achieve through regulations what he and congressional Democrats failed to achieve through legislation. In particu- lar, Obama is seeking to sal- vage the global climate change initiative that he pushed dur- ing his rst two years in of ce, when there were strong Demo- cratic majorities in the House and Senate. With close monitoring by senior White House aides, McCarthy has set an ambitious schedule to impose stronger rules to reduce the adverse cli- mate effects of new and exist- ing power plants. The effort requires complicated arrange- ments with state regulators, who have extensive author- ity over the utilities. In addi- tion, McCarthy must contend with climate-change skeptics among congressional Republi- cans and the certainty that EPA actions will force extensive court challenges. In short, Republicans are making her life dif cult on even seemingly routine opera- tions. More quietly, Demo- crats have their own internal divisions on EPA issues. As a result, even the most apolitical of management operations, acquisition activities and IT modernization efforts can be uphill battles. McCarthy has spent consid- erable time at congressional hearings. During a grilling before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in early April, Republicans accused her of failing to respond to their requests and ignoring their directives. Committee Chair- man Fred Upton (R-Mich.) has urged McCarthy to slow down. "We have yet to see fully what EPA plans to propose for existing power plants or the full impact on consumers electric bills and on employ- ment, " he said. "But if we allow this agenda to continue, we may well see higher costs, more jobs lost and widespread problems. " At the Senate Environment and Public Works Commit- tee, McCarthy has clashed with Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), the panel s ranking member, over his claims that EPA failed to move quickly enough to remove self-proclaimed spy John Beale from its payroll. Beale s fraudulent escapades allegedly cost taxpayers nearly $1 million. Vitter issued a 67-page report on Beale s improper activities. "I do think this case re ects a deeply broken bureaucracy, long term, and it s not an iso- lated incident, " Vitter said. McCarthy defended her actions and noted that Beale was serving a prison sentence. She went on to update the Senate committee on EPA s activities, including a new technology initiative with the states called E-Enterprise and ongoing cuts in spending and staf ng. Nevertheless, Vitter seemed more interested in Beale s transgressions. --- Richard E. Cohen con icts with DOD and the Environ- mental Protection Agency (see side- bar) might be particularly high-pro le, but they re ect the troubles facing countless agencies. Continuing investigations into the Department of Health and Human Ser- vices implementation of the Afford- able Care Act and the Internal Revenue Service s review of tax-exempt groups, for example, are designed to attract publicity rather than resolve problems. Beleaguered agency of cials respond defensively, with lawyers at their sides. Longtime DOD Comptroller Robert Hale revealed the depths of the Pen- tagon s frustration in late March when he urged a Senate subcommittee not EPA and Congress clash over regulatory authority EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy
April 15, 2014
May 15, 2014