Posted by on February 1, 2017 3:10 pm
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Categories: American Presbyterians Climate change skepticism and denial Economy Environmental Protection Agency Finance Committee John Barrasso Nomination None Oklahoma Politics Pruitt Quorum republican party Scott Pruitt Steven Mnuchin Tom Carper Transparency United States

They are at it again.

For the second day in a row, after Senate Democrats boycotted the committee votes for Steven Mnuchin and Tom Price yesterday only for republicans to implement a loophole, allowing the vote to take place as described earlier, on Wednesday morning Senate Democrats again boycotted a committee vote on a President Trump  pick, this time focusing on his choice to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, preventing the GOP from moving his confirmation forward.

None of the Democrats on the Environment and Public Works panel, led by Sen. Tom Carper went into the meeting room, depriving the committee of the two minority party members it requires for a quorum to vote on Scott Pruitt. The Finance Committee’s Republicans bypassed the boycott Wednesday by voting to change the panel’s rules and allow a vote without Democrats, something the Environment panel could do to get Pruitt approved. 

The Wednesday move by Democrats was to protest committee Chairman John Barrasso’s (R-Wyo.) refusal to delay the vote until Pruitt gave more substantive answers to numerous questions that they had for him. “The committee Democrats are deeply concerned about the lack of thoroughness of Mr. Pruitt’s responses to our questions for the record,” Carper wrote to Barrasso

“I ask you to direct Mr. Pruitt to disclose information requested by Democratic members with the same level of transparency that this committee has required of past nominees.” The Democrats’ top complaints centered on documents they requested about litigation Pruitt led as Oklahoma’s attorney general and his positions on major EPA regulations, among other concerns.

Barrasso quickly shot down the request, saying Pruitt has met all of the requirements for a committee vote. “The committee’s review of Attorney General Pruitt’s nomination has been unparalleled in its scrutiny, thoroughness, and respect for minority rights,” he wrote.  “Attorney General Pruitt has answered more questions than any past EPA administrator nominee. He has been comprehensively vetted and has demonstrated his qualifications to lead the EPA.”

The boycott is unlikely to have a lasting effect: now that Republicans have shown how to override it, we expect the same outcome as in the now failed “block” of the Mnuchin, Price vote, in which republican committee members simply changed the rules, allowing the vote to proceed without the required Democrat quorum.

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