Senate to vote on Scott Pruitt for EPA chief amid last-minute drama

Senate to vote on Scott Pruitt for EPA chief amid last-minute drama

By voting 52 to 46 along mostly party lines, the Republican-controlled Senate narrowly approved President Trump's choice of Pruitt as the new EPA director in what environmental leaders view as a cruel joke. Meanwhile, Democratic senators Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia - both of home represent energy states - said they would support Pruitt. Democrats and environmental activists have strongly criticized Pruitt's record as attorney general of Oklahoma-a record that included a number of lawsuits aimed at blocking Obama-era EPA regulations concerning pollution and climate change.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), EPW chairman, on February 16 said in remarks on the Senate floor that attorneys general from 24 states have endorsed Pruitt "as someone who can protect the environment, while also protecting state decision-making". As EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt will bring a rational, constitutional, and federalist perspective to environmental stewardship.

While Democrats have blasted the nominee for his push to roll back regulations and his past statements challenging the science behind climate change, his bid more recently was complicated by a dispute over documents.

Even as Senate Republicans moved towards confirming Pruitt over the strong objections of environmental groups and Democrats, an Oklahoma judge on Thursday ordered Pruitt to hand over thousands of emails related to his communications with the fossil fuel industry. The Senate, which is supposed to advise and consent to this nomination, wouldn't see it until well after Pruitt had taken office at the EPA.

Maine's two senators, Republican Susan Collins and independent Angus King, voted against confirmation.

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Sen. Susan Collins of ME was expected to be the sole GOP senator to join with Democrats in opposing Pruitt.

As we wrote in our "get to know" portrait from last month, Pruitt's hostility to environmental protections is unprecedented in a nominee to run the EPA, and George H.W. Bush's EPA head said of Pruitt that "There has never been a more explicit and opposing interpretation of the authority and responsibility of EPA by an EPA nominee". James Lankford (R-OK) as he arrives for his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on Capitol Hill January 18, 2017. It's a request he's denied for more than two years until the judge said he must comply.

In a post to its official Twitter account immediately after the vote, EPA said "We'd like to congratulate Mr. Pruitt on his confirmation!"

"We don't have all the information we need to make an informed vote on this nomination", Sen.

He argues Pruitt will clean up the EPA which he says has abused its power over the past eight years. Two senators, Joe Donnelly of IN and John McCain of Arizona, were not present for the vote. Pruitt is President Donald Trump's pick to head the agency.