Senate Democrats Boycott Confirmation Vote On Donald Trump's EPA Pick

The panel's 10 Democrats say Scott Pruitt has not adequately answered questions.

WASHINGTON ― The Environment and Public Works Committee met Wednesday to consider the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

The 10 Democrats on the committee did not attend, citing concerns that Pruitt has not adequately responded to their questions. 

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), the ranking Democrat on the panel, said after Pruitt’s hearing that the nominee “gave us answers that blatantly contradicted his record, and provoked many serious concerns about his nomination to lead the EPA.”

Carper and other Democrats on the committee were also not satisfied with Pruitt’s answers to written questions, and said in a letter to EPW Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) Tuesday that “too many of his answers fail to provide requested documents, substance, and clarity needed about his potential conflicts of interest.” They asked Barrasso to delay the vote.

Barrasso declined, responding that the review of Pruitt’s nomination “has been unparalleled in its scrutiny, thoroughness, and respect for minority rights.”

“Attorney General Pruitt has answered more questions than any past EPA administrator nominee,” write Barrasso. “He has been comprehensively vetted and has demonstrated his qualifications to lead the EPA.”

Other Republicans on the committee balked at the Democrat’s objections.

But Carper and other Democrats say they won’t vote without better answers. 

“Today we are boycotting this hearing simply because we have a
nominee who has been stonewalling and refusing to release what should
be public documents,” Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) told reporters. “His refusal to allow transparency and analysis of his record, analysis of his relationships with some of the most polluting industries in America ― that’s what this is about.”

Carper told reporters that Pruitt’s response to questions did not bode well for how he might operate as administrator. “If Mr. Pruitt can be so inadequate in providing information before he becomes EPA administrator, what can we expect after he’s confirmed?” said Carper. “Probably not much.”

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