WASHINGTON – Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, President Donald Trump’s nominee to serve as administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, has advanced to the Senate floor.
The vote came after Republicans suspended committee rules to muscle through the vote, because Democrats boycotted the meeting.
Seats reserved for the 10 Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee were empty Thursday, as the meeting to advance Pruitt’s nomination was gaveled to order.
Accusing the absent Democrats of obstruction, the remaining 11 Republicans voted unanimously to suspend rules requiring at least two members of the minority party to be present for a vote to be held.
Committee Chairman John Barrasso told CNN’s Manu Raju Thursday ahead of the panel’s vote that the panel would do what was necessary to move Pruitt’s nomination along.
“Scott Pruitt will be voted out of committee today. He will get to the floor of the United States Senate and he will be confirmed as the next administrator of the EPA,” Barrasso said.
He added: “All Democrats are invited to the committee. I met earlier this morning with Sen. (Tom) Carper, the ranking member. He indicated that Democrats would not be attending. We’re going to have a meeting today and we’re going to make sure that Scott Pruitt is advanced to the floor of the Senate.”
“Everything we do today is totally consistent with the rules,” Barrasso told CNN.
In 2013, GOP members of the same committee boycotted a similar committee meeting on Gina McCarthy, President Obama’s then-nominee for EPA administrator. McCarthy was eventually approved by the Senate, serving in the post until Trump’s inauguration earlier this month.
The Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association President Chad Warmington released the following statement:
“The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee made the right step to end the grandstanding by a minority of its committee members and move forward on Scott Pruitt’s inevitable confirmation to be the next EPA administrator. Pruitt has promised to return the agency back to its core functions and to include all stakeholders when drafting regulations to protect the environment. The era of EPA being a political action arm for the far left, where the agency issued legally questionable regulations punishing sectors of America’s economy that didn’t align with their vision, is coming to an end. We look forward to supporting Scott Pruitt’s vision of a nation that is both pro-energy and pro-environment.”
BREAKING: Republicans rewrite committee rules to send Trump's pick for EPA chief to floor vote after Democrats boycott meeting.
— The Associated Press (@AP) February 2, 2017
Republicans suspended committee rules to advance a vote on former Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt’s confirmation as EPA administrator
— NPR (@NPR) February 2, 2017