Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 29, 2015

Boxer’s Struggle for Power On Display at Toxic Chemicals Hearing

A hearing to debate the nation’s decades-old toxic chemical laws turned into a power struggle Wednesday, as Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., tried to hold her ground against a growing coalition that backs a bipartisan compromise to which she was not a party.

The extensive hearing, packed with 19 listed witnesses, was at times personal and tense, with the shadow of the late Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J., cast over the proceedings. Members debated the compromise legislation Lautenberg negotiated in the final weeks of his life with the panel’s ranking member, Sen. David Vitter, R-La. — a bill against which Boxer has campaigned vigorously and is opposed by some environmental groups looking for a stronger regulation.

Perhaps the most personal testimony came from the hearing’s one unlisted witness, Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-WVa., who defended Lautenberg from criticism launched by Boxer that the late senator was unfit to agree to a deal, as CQ Roll Call previously reported. (Here, here and here.)

“I was disheartened when I read news reports that some members of this committee questioned Senator Lautenberg’s faculties during the CSIA negotiations,” Manchin said. “He entered into these negotiations, with all his years of experience, skills and wisdom because he knew that it was time to craft a bipartisan TSCA reform bill. To suggest otherwise, and to attack the integrity of such a strong defender of public health, is something that should offend all Americans.”

Manchin said Lautenberg “negotiated the agreement before you because he knew it was time to fix this broken system in a way that could pass Congress and make Americans safer” and added that any claim that the deal, which Manchin helped broker, was “worse” than current law was “just another cheap attempt to try and distort the tireless work Senator Lautenberg gave to the bill.”

Democrat Tom Udall, D-N.M., the chairman of the toxic chemicals subcommittee and supporter of the Vitter-Lautenberg bill, read a letter from Lautenberg’s widow, Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg, who said passing the legislation would be a “wonderful cap” to the late senator’s career.

The hearing marked an inflection point for Boxer, whom sources say had hoped to use the session to her favor and in support of moving her own legislation. But several Democrats, chiefly Udall, seemed aligned with Vitter’s position. These sources suggested that EPW staffers had been considering moving forward with their own bill over recess, but doing so could cause Boxer to lose all control of the issue.

That tension came to a head during a particularly awkward exchange between Vitter and Boxer, as Vitter announced to the panel he would be working on a “manager’s amendment” with Udall. Given that chairmen usually are the managers of bills coming out of committee, such a declaration was either a serious faux pas or a direct shot across the bow at Boxer, whose staff to date has not been willing to look at changes to the existing language.

Vitter was explaining to the committee that he and Lautenberg did not intend to undercut state laws, such as California’s, when he said he and Udall would make that “crystal clear in our manager’s amendment.”

At this point, Boxer interrupted and said, “I just wanted to ask you, what do you mean, ‘manager’s amendment?’ Because I will be managing the bill. I just wanted to make it clear that I would be working the manager’s amendment with you, unless you don’t like it and I can get somebody else who does.”

Senators moving behind the scenes to undermine a committee chairman is one thing, but practically declaring to her face that you already are, is quite another, and Boxer’s curt response underscores her tenuous position.

She could decide to move ahead without this coalition, but she would risk alienating her own members and not passing any bill at all. Though sources working close to the bill are loath to say so publicly, they could move forward outside of the committee construct and ask Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., for a floor vote once they’re done amending the bill. The legislation already has about 20 co-sponsors from both parties.

“It’s just time that something be done. I would hope that the chairman and her committee would say this is the time and it would happen. Frank reached out, finally came to a compromise,” Manchin told CQ Roll Call after his testimony.

When asked if allies of the bill would work around the EPW panel if they faced resistance, Manchin would only say that Reid “will have to make a decision where he goes from there.” He added that he had not yet talked the majority leader but “will at the proper time.”

Comments (28)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

author email

  1. Ira Moe

    July 31, 2013
    7:53 p.m.

    I just hope she looses all her influence everywhere in the Senate.

  2. PasoFinoCA

    Aug. 1, 2013
    5:35 a.m.

    Boxer: Not only demonstrably unpleasant, loud, rude and overbearing, now she can add incompetent and irrelevant to her list of Senatorial skills. Who votes for this idiot?

  3. Anonymous

    July 4, 2015
    3:54 p.m.

    I really like your writing style, excellent info , regards for putting up : D.

  4. Anonymous

    July 6, 2015
    7:24 p.m.

    Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading properly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different web browsers and both show the same outcome.

  5. Anonymous

    July 7, 2015
    8:43 a.m.

    What i do not realize is in truth how you’re now not actually a lot more neatly-favored than you may be now. You are very intelligent. You already know therefore significantly when it comes to this matter, produced me in my opinion believe it from a lot of various angles. Its like men and women don’t seem to be involved unless it is something to do with Girl gaga! Your personal stuffs great. All the time care for it up!

  6. Anonymous

    July 7, 2015
    5:41 p.m.

    You have brought up a very excellent points, thankyou for the post.

  7. Anonymous

    July 7, 2015
    9:07 p.m.

    Keep up the good work, I read few content on this internet site and I conceive that your web site is real interesting and has bands of excellent information.

  8. Anonymous

    July 9, 2015
    10:38 a.m.

    What i do not understood is actually how you are not actually much more well-liked than you might be now. You’re so intelligent. You realize therefore significantly relating to this subject, produced me personally consider it from a lot of varied angles. Its like men and women aren’t fascinated unless it’s one thing to do with Lady gaga! Your own stuffs excellent. Always maintain it up!

  9. Anonymous

    July 11, 2015
    8:34 a.m.

    As I website possessor I believe the content material here is rattling great, thankyou for your efforts.

  10. Anonymous

    July 12, 2015
    1:18 p.m.

    I like this post, enjoyed this one thankyou for putting up.

  11. Anonymous

    July 13, 2015
    12:36 p.m.

    What i do not realize is if truth be told how you are not actually much more smartly-appreciated than you might be right now. You are so intelligent. You know therefore considerably in the case of this matter, made me for my part consider it from numerous various angles. Its like men and women aren’t fascinated unless it is one thing to do with Woman gaga! Your individual stuffs outstanding. All the time maintain it up!

  12. Anonymous

    July 13, 2015
    10:21 p.m.

    This blog is definitely rather handy since I’m at the moment creating an internet floral website – although I am only starting out therefore it’s really fairly small, nothing like this site. Can link to a few of the posts here as they are quite. Thanks much. Zoey Olsen

  13. Anonymous

    July 14, 2015
    2:17 a.m.

    you are really a good webmaster. The website loading speed is incredible. It seems that you are doing any unique trick. Also, The contents are masterwork. you’ve done a fantastic job on this topic!

  14. Anonymous

    July 17, 2015
    5:09 a.m.

    Thanks for any other informative web site. Where else could I am getting that kind of info written in such an ideal means? I’ve a challenge that I am simply now operating on, and I’ve been on the look out for such information.

  15. Anonymous

    July 17, 2015
    5:32 a.m.

    Thank you for the good writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it. Look advanced to more added agreeable from you! By the way, how could we communicate?

  16. Anonymous

    July 18, 2015
    5:43 a.m.

    Some genuinely interesting info , well written and broadly speaking user friendly.

  17. Anonymous

    July 18, 2015
    7:32 a.m.

    I always was concerned in this subject and stock still am, regards for posting.

  18. Anonymous

    July 20, 2015
    4:02 p.m.

    F*ckin’ remarkable issues here. I am very happy to peer your article. Thanks so much and i’m taking a look forward to contact you. Will you kindly drop me a e-mail?

  19. Anonymous

    July 21, 2015
    5:35 a.m.

    After study a few of the blog posts on your website now, and I truly like your way of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark website list and will be checking back soon. Pls check out my web site as well and let me know what you think.

  20. Anonymous

    July 21, 2015
    7:55 a.m.

    Perfect piece of work you have done, this web site is really cool with wonderful information.

  21. Anonymous

    July 24, 2015
    10:51 a.m.

    Hi my friend! I want to say that this post is amazing, great written and include almost all significant infos. I would like to see extra posts like this .

  22. Anonymous

    July 24, 2015
    11:03 a.m.

    Super-Duper blog! I am loving it!! Will be back later to read some more. I am taking your feeds also.

  23. Anonymous

    July 24, 2015
    10:11 p.m.

    Would you be excited about exchanging hyperlinks?

  24. Anonymous

    July 24, 2015
    10:21 p.m.

    Thanks for sharing excellent informations. Your web site is very cool. I am impressed by the details that you’ve on this web site. It reveals how nicely you understand this subject. Bookmarked this website page, will come back for more articles. You, my pal, ROCK! I found simply the information I already searched everywhere and simply could not come across. What a great web site.

  25. Anonymous

    July 25, 2015
    10:16 a.m.

    wonderful submit, very informative. I wonder why the opposite experts of this sector do not notice this. You should continue your writing. I’m confident, you’ve a great readers’ base already!

  26. Anonymous

    July 25, 2015
    10:01 p.m.

    I’d always want to be update on new content on this web site, bookmarked! .

  27. Anonymous

    July 25, 2015
    10:11 p.m.

    Together with every little thing which seems to be building within this subject material, all your points of view are actually rather exciting. Even so, I am sorry, because I do not give credence to your whole strategy, all be it refreshing none the less. It would seem to me that your commentary are actually not completely justified and in reality you are your self not even thoroughly convinced of the argument. In any event I did take pleasure in looking at it.

  28. Anonymous

    July 28, 2015
    5 p.m.

    I will right away snatch your rss as I can’t find your e-mail subscription hyperlink or e-newsletter service. Do you have any? Please let me recognize so that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

Sign In

Forgot password?



Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...