Lautenberg to return for Thurs meeting

WASHINGTON -- New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg is expected back in Washington Thursday to help advance President Obama’s nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, spokesman Caley Gray confirmed Tuesday.

Lautenberg’s attendance would be his second visit to the Capitol since the end of February. The Democratic senator, suffering from leg pain and fatigue, according to his staff, also returned April 17 to vote on proposed gun laws.

His attendance this week could allow Democrats to advance the nomination of Gina McCarthy to head the EPA, according to Roll Call, which first reported Lautenberg’s plans to return. Republicans boycotted a May 9 Environment and Public Works Committee meeting, protesting what they say were McCarthy’s unsatisfactory answers to GOP questions and preventing the panel from advancing the nomination.

The panel’s 10 Democrats could have voted to move forward even without the Republicans present, but all of them would have had to be physically present to do so, according to Roll Call, a newspaper covering Capitol Hill. Lautenberg’s return this week could make that possible.

Lautenberg aides have said that while the senator has missed votes he remains in touch with Democratic leaders and is available when needed.

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