Why is Tom Carper stonewalling another of Trump's nominees?

Earlier this week I found myself wondering about this phenomenon where Democrats and their media allies keep harping on how slow the President has been in nominating people to fill various government positions. That’s a particularly curious charge when you consider all the foot dragging and obstructionism in actually confirming any of the nominations which have already been put forward. Another of these cases cropped up almost immediately and it’s perhaps one of the most blatantly partisan ones we’ve seen yet. President Trump has nominated Susan Bodine to be the Assistant Administrator for the EPA’s office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

Given Bodine’s resume, this one should have been the biggest softball, no brainer, slam dunk for everyone involved from both parties. She’s chief counsel for the Environment and Public Works Committee and used to be an assistant administrator at the EPA. Avi Garbow, former General Counsel for the EPA under Barack Obama even endorsed Bodine for the position. And yet, for some reason, Senator Tom Carper (D-Del), senior Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, issued a statement saying that he was going to oppose moving the nomination forward.

“Certainly, Ms. Bodine’s resume is helpful. With over a decade of experience in the House and Senate and time spent working in the Bush Administration, I believe she understands the relationship that should exist between the separate, but equal branches of our government. Ms. Bodine has also served as counsel to two chairmen of this committee, both of whom have taken their oversight roles very seriously. As such, I raised with her my serious concerns regarding the lack of adequate answers we have received from Mr. Pruitt, the last EPA nominee this committee considered. Specifically, I noted the multiple letters from EPW members that have still received no response, including an inquiry on EPA’s enforcement activities. I do not believe her Senate bosses would stand for such blatant disregard from an agency, and Democratic members will not either.

“Until members of this committee receive adequate responses from Mr. Pruitt so that we can all exercise our oversight responsibilities, I feel I have no choice but to oppose the consideration of any additional EPA nominees. I stand ready to work with Chairman Barrasso to resolve this issue as soon as possible, ideally before Ms. Bodine’s rescheduled confirmation hearing next week.”

This has to go down in the record books as one of the strangest refusals in history. Carper spends a significant portion of his press release explaining precisely why Susan Bodine is perfectly qualified for the position. But he then goes on to say that the head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, hasn’t “adequately” responded to multiple letters he’s sent to Pruitt’s office. First of all… what do these two things have to do with each other? Is Bodine, counsel for the same committee Carper sits on, somehow responsible for the allegedly inadequate response from the EPA?

And let’s look at those letters that Carper is going on about. I’ve done a bit of checking with the EPA and, to date, Carper has sent a flurry of 20 letters in recent months. Ten of those were already answered. Of the other ten, seven arrived just in the past 30 days (one of them arriving only three days ago) and the stuff Carper is asking for takes time to assemble. One letter from May 20th demands information on any “civil and criminal enforcement actions beginning each fiscal year since 2009.” That’s the entire stretch of Obama’s presidency. He wants that in 20 days? Several other letters concern Carl Icahn, who Carper seems to be obsessing over and isn’t in the government.

The EPA is clearly grinding through this barrage of requests and submitting answers as soon as the requested information has been gathered. We received this comment from EPA spokesperson Jahan Wilcox on the subject of these letters.

We’ve received 20 letters from Senator Carper and 10 have already received a detailed response. Of the remaining 10 letters: 7 were received in the past month and we are working to respond as quickly as possible. EPA staff is committed to being responsive to Congress.

With all of this information available to the public, we’re left with the same question I asked above. What does this relatively mundane series of requests to and responses from the EPA have to do with Susan Bodine’s nomination and why would Tom Carper be delaying her confirmation hearing in committee over them when he fully admits that she’s completely qualified? This smells like yet another smoke bomb from the Democrats as they seek to delay acting on as many of the President’s nominations as possible so they can continue to complain about how he’s supposedly not filling all of the open positions in the federal government. Senator Carper owes answers to the American people if he’s going to continue with these tactics.