Senate panel to vote on confirming Trump EPA pick

Senate panel to vote on confirming Trump EPA pick
© Greg Nash

A Senate committee is planning to vote next week on President Trump’s choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoTrump proposal nixes review of long-term climate impacts Bipartisan senators propose forcing EPA to set drinking water standard for 'forever chemicals' Trump hails D-Day veterans in Normandy: 'You are the pride of our nation' MORE (R-Wyo.) announced Friday that the panel will vote Feb. 1 on sending current Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s (R) nomination to the full Senate.

“After a very thorough vetting process, it is time that we vote on Attorney General Pruitt’s nomination to lead the EPA,” Barrasso said in a statement. “The committee has done its due diligence, and we should move his nomination forward. Mr. Pruitt has the right experience for the job and will make an excellent administrator of the EPA.”

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Pruitt is likely to pass the committee vote along party lines. The panel has 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats, and no senator has indicated a plan to buck his or her party.

Pruitt is also likely to pass the full Senate, where the GOP has 52 seats to Democrats’ 48. Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinRepublicans, Trump Jr. signal support for embattled West Virginia governor Critics say Interior's top lawyer came 'close to perjury' during Hill testimony The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by MAPRx — Trump takes heat for remarks on help from foreign governments MORE (D-W.Va.) is the only Democrat likely to vote for his confirmation, and no Republican is planning to vote against him.

Senators have been sharply divided along party lines over Pruitt.

Republicans like his sharp opposition to former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden, Eastland and rejecting the cult of civility Biden lays out immigration priorities, rips Trump for 'assault on dignity' Democrats not keen to reignite Jerusalem embassy fight MORE’s EPA policies and his record of suing the EPA under Obama more than a dozen times. The GOP sees Pruitt as a needed change agent who would return environmental responsibility to the states and undo Obama policies they don’t like.

But to Democrats, Pruitt has shown no record of endorsing the core missions of the EPA, and his plans to repeal numerous regulations would be dangerous to public health and the climate.

“I am deeply troubled by Mr. Pruitt’s record on the environment and his views about the role of the EPA,” Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperThe '90-10 rule' in higher education is a target on veterans' backs Trump proposal nixes review of long-term climate impacts Democrats want White House hopefuls to cool it on Biden attacks MORE (Del.), the committee’s top Democrat, said at a recent event he hosted about the nomination.

“Looking at Scott Pruitt’s record, it seems he is perfectly in line with our new president’s mission to stymie or eliminate the EPA,” he said.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has scheduled a meeting the day before to vote on confirming Energy secretary nominee Rick Perry and Interior secretary nominee Ryan Zinke.

The full Senate has not scheduled floor votes yet for any of the nominees.