News & Politics

Republicans Suspend Rules to Move EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt Forward Without Dems

Seats on the Democrat side of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing room are empty during a boycott to thwart the confirmation vote on EPA-designate Scott Pruitt. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

I detect a pattern emerging.

Yesterday, Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee suspended rules to push through a pair of President Trump’s cabinet nominees —  Steven Mnuchin and Rep. Tom Price — after Democrats refused to show up for votes.

Today, Republicans on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee did the same thing to move Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), forward after all ten Democrat members of the committee boycotted the meeting.

Republicans on the Senate EPW Committee voted 11-0 Thursday in approval of Pruitt serving as the EPA’s administrator without any Democrats present.

“If Scott Pruitt is serious about serving as our next EPA administrator, he should be more than willing to provide Democrats with complete answers,” Senator Tom Carper (D., Del.) insisted in a tweet yesterday, echoing the Democrats on the Finance Committee, who also cited the need for the candidates to answer more questions as justification for their obstruction.

“Yesterday, the minority members of this committee chose to boycott this business meeting. It’s disappointing that they chose that course of action, but we will not allow it to obstruct,” said Committee Chairman and Wyoming Republican John Barrasso.

Barrasso pointed out that the committee conducted a thorough and fair process in reviewing Pruitt’s nomination and that it was “unprecedented for the minority to delay an EPA administrator for a new president to this extent.”

“We had an election last November, the people spoke, and now it’s time to set up a functioning government,” the chairman said.

The committee went on to suspend the “minority must be present” rule so that the nomination of Pruitt could move forward.