Dems blast McConnell for not delaying vote on EPA nominee

Dems blast McConnell for not delaying vote on EPA nominee
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Senate Democrats on Thursday slammed Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellLawmakers push one-week stopgap funding bill Overnight Finance: Inside Trump's tax plan | White House mulls order pulling out of NAFTA | New fight over Dodd-Frank begins Dem rep: Trump's tax plan as believable as 'magic, unicorns or Batman' MORE (R-Ky.) for not delaying a vote on President Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Sen. Tom CarperTom CarperDems probe claims of religious bias in DHS 'trusted traveler' program Senate Dems want Trump to release ethics waivers, visitor logs Medicare’s coverage decisions need more input from physicians MORE (D-Del.) and some colleagues have repeatedly asked McConnell to delay the vote to confirm Scott Pruitt, currently Oklahoma’s attorney general, while Democrats and a liberal group wait for public records requested more than two years ago.

McConnell declined, Carper said, and the Senate voted 54-46 on Thursday — with all Republicans and two Democrats supporting — to move forward on Pruitt and line up a vote for Friday.

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“In my gut, I feel that these emails — the nature of these emails and the entities with whom they were sent and received — will help us understand the truth,” Carper told reporters Thursday in renewing his call for a delay shortly after debate formally started on Pruitt on the Senate floor.

“My fear is that a number of members, especially on the other side, would be put in a very bad position, asked to vote for a nominee that they otherwise would not have supported, had they known the truth,” he said.

Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John BarrassoJohn BarrassoPoll: Sanders most popular senator in the US The animal advocate Trump climate move risks unraveling Paris commitments MORE (R-Wyo.) has pushed back against Democrats’ delay requests, saying Pruitt has answered more questions than any EPA administrator nominee before.

A judge in Oklahoma is holding an emergency hearing later Thursday on a lawsuit the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) filed last week to force Pruitt’s office to comply with their request.

The liberal group had sought, under Oklahoma’s state records law, copies of emails between Pruitt’s staff and representatives of various fossil fuel and conservative interests.

Pruitt’s office released hundreds of pages of documents last week, but CMD maintains that thousands of emails were left out.

Democrats said the decision to carry on with the Pruitt vote shows that the GOP is prioritizing getting Trump’s cabinet confirmed over transparency concerns.

“Clearly, this is an epic ram-job,” Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseComey to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee The Hill's 12:30 Report Dem: Pruitt violating anti-campaigning law with GOP fundraiser MORE (D-R.I.) said.

He said Republicans “could not get enough” of Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonLawmakers targeted as district politics shift Want a tremendous deal on infrastructure spending? Suspend Davis-Bacon Constitutional amendment could vastly improve campaign finance MORE’s emails and the emails of various federal employees they had investigated.

“But now, suddenly, emails between a nominee’s office and the major players in the industry that he will be regulating as EPA administrator, all they do is look at the ceiling tiles,” he added.

Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyOvernight Cybersecurity: Ex-officials warn 'Buy American' might harm Pentagon cybersecurity | Chair nudges Trump on cyber order | House gets security training Overnight Tech: FCC chief unveils plan for net neutrality rollback | Tech on Trump's sweeping tax plan | Cruz looks to boost space industry FCC head unveils plan to roll back net neutrality MORE (D-Mass.) said Pruitt’s refusal to give the Democrats the emails at issue is unprecedented.

“What Scott Pruitt said to our committee was ‘go FOIA yourself,’ ” Markey joked.

Two Democrats, Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinSenators push 'cost-effective' reg reform Congress nears deal on help for miners Senate votes to confirm Rosenstein as deputy attorney general MORE (W.Va.) and Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampOvernight Regulation: Senators call for 'cost-effective' regs | FCC chief unveils plans to roll back net neutrality Senators push 'cost-effective' reg reform Battle begins over Wall Street rules MORE (N.D.), both say they will vote for Pruitt, and Republican Sen. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsOvernight Energy: Lawmakers work toward deal on miners’ benefits Schumer: Senate Russia probe moving too slowly Collins: I'm not working with Freedom Caucus chairman on healthcare MORE (Maine) plans to vote against him, giving him more than the 51 votes needed for confirmation.