Republicans block Governor’s DNREC Secretary nominee

Shawn Garvin's nomination as DNREC Secretary is in limbo after Delaware Republicans blocked a vote on his confirmation. (Garvin photo courtesy governor's office;Leg. Hall photo- File/WHYY)

Shawn Garvin's nomination as DNREC Secretary is in limbo after Delaware Republicans blocked a vote on his confirmation. (Garvin photo courtesy governor's office;Leg. Hall photo- File/WHYY)

The confirmation of Gov. John Carney’s pick for Secretary of Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is in limbo following a block from Republicans.

Eight more of Carney’s cabinet nominees were confirmed Wednesday—but Shawn Garvin, the DNREC Secretary candidate, was not voted on as there were not enough Republicans to approve a confirmation.

With an open Democratic seat, Republicans and Democrats temporarily split control of the senate with 10 members in each party.

An 11th vote is required to confirm an appointment, and if a tie occurred Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, D-Delaware, would have the last say. But Sen. Dave Lawson, R-Marydel, left the building due to what a legislative aide said was a “family emergency,” blocking the chance for a tie-break.

Senate Democrats said expressed their disappointed in the block in a statement encouraging Republicans to vote in favor of Garvin, who ran the regional Environmental Protection Agency for eight years.

“Members of the Senate Democratic caucuses were prepared to confirm Shawn Garvin on Wednesday. He has significant experience and the leadership necessary to become the next Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. Republicans should set aside political differences and join us in confirming this qualified candidate,” Democrats say in a statement.

Carney’s press secretary said the Governor was not available for comment, but released the following statement; “We continue to talk to members of the Delaware Senate about the nomination of Shawn Garvin to lead DNREC. Shawn is a remarkably qualified candidate. We look forward to his confirmation in March.”

During his hearing, Garvin said he would support Carney’s focus on job creation and the economy, while still ensuring businesses abide by environmental regulations.

Republicans said they had concerns about the DNREC nomination, but would not say what they are.

State. Sen. Colin Bonini, R-Dover, said he has nothing against Garvin personally, but has concerns related to economic development.

“My concern was we’re talking about a high-level EPA officer from the Obama administration, and the EPA in the Obama administration was probably the most anti-business EPA in history,” he said.

Bonini said his opinions are his own, and would not speak to the concerns the rest of his colleagues have.

Senate staff said they couldn’t think of a time a cabinet nomination was turned down since Gov. Ruth Ann Minner took office in 2001.

On Wednesday, it was not clear when the General Assembly will revisit Carney’s DNREC nomination. David Small is currently Secretary of DNREC but it was not immediately confirmed how long he would stay on.

The other nominees were voted in favor almost unanimously, with only Bonini casting a no vote on Secretary of Education nominee Susan Smith Bunting. Bunting said she would allocate funding to the most needed areas during a budget crisis in the state, and dedicate herself to making sure all students have equal access to quality education.

Other confirmations included Anas Ben Addi to once again lead the Delaware State Housing Authority, Michael Scuse to lead the Department of Agriculture and Brigadier General Carol A. Timmons, the first woman to serve as the Adjutant General of Delaware National Guard.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.