Republicans on the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee on Thursday suspended committee rules to approve President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency even though Democrats boycotted the committee meeting.
The Senate rules typically require at least one member of the minority to be present in order to vote on a nominee, but Democrats were in their second day of boycotting the EPA nominee, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt. By suspending the rules, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), the chair of the committee, was able to proceed without Democrats.
Democrats on the committee boycotted a meeting on Wednesday, when the vote was initially scheduled to take place, and criticized Pruitt for not answering questions submitted after his confirmation hearing. Barrasso postponed the vote on Wednesday, but was apparently not willing to delay the vote again Thursday.
Pruitt’s nomination was met with considerable opposition from Democrats, who questioned his views on climate change and other issues impacting the environment. The Oklahoma attorney general is skeptical of climate change and told senators during his confirmation hearing that the impact of climate change on the planet is still up for debate. His involvement in lawsuits targeting the EPA also attracted criticism.
“The ability to measure with precision the degree and extent of that impact and what to do about it are subject to continuing debate and dialogue, and well it should be,” he said at the hearing.
Democrats’ effort to stall Pruitt’s nomination from moving forward is just one of multiple attempts by Dems to jam up the confirmation process for Trump’s nominees. After a Democratic boycott on committee votes on Trump’s nominees for Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin and for Health and Human Services Secretary, Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), Senate Finance Chair Orrin Hatch (R-UT) also sought to change the committee’s rules Wednesday to advance their nominations.