Senate Committee Approves Scott Pruitt to Head E.P.A.

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 18: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, testifies during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on Capitol Hill January 18, 2017 in Washington, DC. Pruitt is expected to face tough questioning about his stance on climate change and ties to the oil and gas industry. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Senate Republicans pressed forward on Thursday with the confirmation of President Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, suspending the Environment and Public Works Committee’s rules to approve the cabinet pick despite a Democratic boycott.

The 11-0 vote sends the nomination to the full Senate, where Mr. Pruitt is most likely to be approved next week.

Democrats and environmental groups have waged a fierce campaign against the confirmation of Mr. Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general, who has led or taken part in 14 lawsuits aimed at blocking E.P.A. regulations, including Obama administration policies aimed at climate change.

A day after Democrats on the Senate environment committee boycotted a planned vote on Mr. Pruitt’s nomination, the panel’s Republicans reconvened on Thursday and temporarily suspended the committee’s rules, which require the presence of at least two Democrats to hold votes, and approved Mr. Pruitt.

The Democrats’ boycott and the Republican response followed the same pattern that played out this week on the Senate Finance Committee, as Democrats sought to block action on the nominations of Representative Tom Price of Georgia to head the Department of Health and Human Services, and of the financier Steven T. Mnuchin to lead the Treasury Department.

In boycotting Mr. Pruitt’s confirmation, Democrats complained that he had failed to adequately answer their questions and address their concerns about how he would run the agency charged with protecting the nation’s air, water and public health.

“The committee Democrats are deeply concerned about the lack of thoroughness of Mr. Pruitt’s responses to our questions for the record,” wrote Senator Thomas R. Carper of Delaware, the environment panel’s ranking Democrat, in a letter to the committee’s chairman, Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming.

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SOURCE: NY Times, Coral Davenport