Michael A. Memoli writes that before even taking office, McCarthy, currently the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation at the Environmental Protection Agency, has set a record: Her nomination was "the longest delay for any of President Obama’s second-term Cabinet picks."
Obama announced McCarthy as his pick for the EPA post on March 4, when he also nominated Ernest Moniz to be secretary of Energy. Moniz was unanimously confirmed in May.
McCarthy, as administrator of the EPA, is expected to play the key role in implementing the president's Climate Action Plan (also described here) "to develop regulations designed to cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants".
The vote was a direct outcome an "agreement on Tuesday to preserve the filibuster in exchange for confirmation votes on President Obama’s stalled nominees", described in The New York Times on July 16. That agreement called for seven nominees to be voted upon; McCarthy was the fourth so far.
Observers have written that her nomination had been stalled not because of objections to Ms. McCarthy personally but because Republicans are opposed to plans by the EPA to implement the president's climate program, which they are opposed to.
In a congratulatory, activist alert sent to members, the Natural Resources Defense Council wrote, "It has been a shocking 136 days since President Obama announced McCarthy's nomination for the role. Because of months of GOP grandstanding and political obstruction, McCarthy has a lot of work to do...But she's up for the job."
President Obama welcomed Ms. McCarthy's confirmation, stating that he looks “forward to having her in my Cabinet as we work to slow the effects of climate change and leave a cleaner environment for future generations”, wrote Juliet Eilperin in The Washington Post.
With her confirmation on July 18, she will join Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz and Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, as the key cabinet members to address energy and climate for President Obama.