The Democratic members of the Senate began Friday the way they ended Thursday, talking on the chamber floor and shouting into the wind about the fundamental absurdity of the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency, a fundamental absurdity that does not end with the fact that Pruitt is now suing the agency he has been nominated to lead.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator-designate, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
The close 52-46 vote was almost along party lines aside from aisle-switching by Susan Collins (R-ME) to oppose and Joe Manchin III (D-WV) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), both from coal-rich states, to support.
Pruitt's ties to energy companies are well known, so it's hard to say if there will be any earth-shattering revelations found in his emails. And Pruitt had taken their words, and put it on his letterhead, and passed it on to the EPA as the official position of the state.
"Scott Pruitt will protect our environment", said Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who also voted against the nomination of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education.
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Senate Majority Leader, Republican Mitch McConnell, said Pruitt had been thoroughly vetted in recent months and called on Democrats to end their obstruction against Pruitt. The Center for Media and Democracy, a liberal watchdog group, had asked the court to order the release of Pruitt's emails under the state's open records law.
In his six years as Oklahoma's attorney general, he filed 14 lawsuits challenging EPA regulations like limits on carbon emissions and a rule which meant industries had to clean up polluted wastewater. With this confirmation vote, which was largely along party lines, we enter a new era in which one side of the aisle is intent on leveling the safeguards they supported for over fifty years. The month-long silence was broken yesterday with a tweet congratulating Pruitt on his confirmation, despite almost every employee railing against it.
In an extraordinary lobbying blitz against Pruitt, the labor union that represents EPA employees urged their members to call senators and urge them to vote against Pruitt.
But Democrats were unable to get the confirmation vote delayed, as they wished, until after the documents in the Oklahoma case are released and they can read them. He has sued it more than a dozen times when he was the attorney-general of Oklahoma.