Dem Manchin lauds Trump’s EPA pick
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) lauded President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Thursday, saying he “has the right experience for the position.”
The assessment came in a rare joint statement put out by Trump’s transition team and the Democrat after he met with Scott Pruitt, the current Republican attorney general of Oklahoma.
Pruitt is unlikely to need Manchin’s support in order to win confirmation in the Senate, since none of the upper chamber’s 52 Republicans has said they would not vote for him.
But Manchin is running for reelection in 2018 and is under pressure to show that he can represent one of the most Republican states in the country.
“Attorney General Pruitt and I had a very productive conversation today about his plans for the Environmental Protection Agency and ways we can work together,” Manchin said in the statement. “We both come from energy producing states and have a great deal in common.”
Manchin said Pruitt agreed to visit West Virginia cities with recent drinking water problems.
Pruitt called the meeting “very good and productive.” He lauded Manchin’s work on energy policy and said he would work closely with Manchin and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) on the issues the state cares about.
Manchin breaks with Democrats on many major energy policy questions and has opposed most Democratic policies to fight climate change, like President Obama’s Clean Power Plan.
In 2010, when Manchin was running in a special election for the Senate seat, he ran an advertisement in which he shot the proposed cap-and-trade bill with a rifle.
Trump has promised to undo the Clean Power Plan and more of Obama’s rules, and Pruitt has led lawsuits by conservative states to challenge the policies.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, a Republican who may run against Manchin in 2018, publicly pushed him to endorse Pruitt in December. Manchin responded to that call by saying Pruitt has an “impressive resume,” among other compliments.
Pruitt is facing strong opposition from Democrats and environmentalists, who say he doesn’t agree with the EPA’s missions and would be a dangerous administrator.
Manchin’s attempts to distance himself from other Democrats led him Wednesday to meet individually with Vice President-elect Mike Pence to discuss how to repeal and replace ObamaCare, instead of meeting with Obama and other Democrats to strategize how to preserve the law.
Trump won West Virginia in the presidential election with a higher percentage of the vote than any other state he won.