Dems want to delay confirmation of Trump pick at EPA

Dems want to delay confirmation of Trump pick at EPA
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Senate Democrats want to delay the confirmation of Andrew Wheeler to the No. 2 spot at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), arguing he should get more scrutiny because of the possibility that he could end up replacing Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittWant to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump Saluting FOIA on its birthday Watchdog found EPA employees kept on payroll by Trump appointees after they were fired: report MORE.

Democratic members on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee said they fear that they would be effectively confirming Wheeler as the EPA’s chief if President TrumpDonald TrumpCuban embassy in Paris attacked by gasoline bombs Trump Jr. inches past DeSantis as most popular GOP figure in new poll: Axios Trump endorses Ken Paxton over George P. Bush in Texas attorney general race MORE decides to fire Pruitt.

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“The circumstances regarding Mr. Wheeler have changed since we had our nomination hearing and vote with the cloud over Administrator Pruitt,” said Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinSenate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines Democrats pushing for changes to bipartisan infrastructure deal The Hill's Morning Report - 2024 GOPers goal: Tread carefully, don't upset Trump MORE (D-Md.) on Wednesday. “I think it would be best advised to hold off on this vote to see if we are voting on the acting administrator or the deputy administrator.”

Pruitt has been at the center of controversy for weeks over his housing in Washington, raises to certain staffers and his travel and security detail. White House chief of staff John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE has reportedly pushed for his ouster.

Trump, however, has offered repeated public support for Pruitt, leading many in Washington to think his position at the EPA has stabilized in recent days. Pruitt has also won support from a number of GOP lawmakers as well as conservative voices outside Congress.

Environmental and Public Works Committee Chairman John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoOvernight Energy: Senate panel advances controversial public lands nominee | Nevada Democrat introduces bill requiring feds to develop fire management plan | NJ requiring public water systems to replace lead pipes in 10 years Senate panel advances controversial public lands nominee in tie vote Democrats seek to counter GOP attacks on gas prices MORE (R-Wyo.) vowed to go forward with the panel vote to confirm Wheeler this week.

"We’ll be voting on his confirmation this week. I expect to speak about him on the floor. I expect to support his work. I worked with him when I was new in the Senate. And I fully support the vote to confirm him to the position for which he has been nominated,” he said. Wheeler’s confirmation vote in front of the full Senate is expected this week. He would need just 50 votes to be confirmed, though that could force Vice President Pence to break a tie.

Wheeler is a lawyer and former lobbyist who specialized in energy and environmental policy. He is also a former staffer to Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeGillibrand expects vote on military justice bill in fall The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Biden backs Cuban protesters, assails 'authoritarian regime' Trump getting tougher for Senate GOP to ignore MORE (R-Okla.), the former chairman of the Environmental and Public Works Committee.

As such, he’d be seen as a capable administrator for EPA chief if necessary.

Sen. Tom UdallTom UdallOvernight Defense: Milley reportedly warned Trump against Iran strikes | Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer killed in Afghanistan | 70 percent of active-duty military at least partially vaccinated Biden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Senate Democrats befuddled by Joe Manchin MORE (N.M.), the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee panel that oversees the EPA’s budget, said Wheeler hasn’t been subject to the public or congressional scrutiny that a nominee to lead the EPA would usually be subjected to.

“Wheeler would move in and become the deputy administrator of the EPA, the No. 2 job. He’s never been vetted to be the top job. And so, we’ve got a real problem there,” said Udall, who speculated that Pruitt could be out in days.

“We hear from the White House that there are very split opinions on him. There are some people at the very top in the White House that want him to go right now,” Udall said.