Published: Fri, February 03, 2017
National | By Miranda Cannon

Another Committee Suspends Rules to Ram Through Trump Nominee

A visibly frustrated Finance Committee chairman, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, led a successful effort to change the rules governing the panel, and Mnuchin and Price were swiftly approved with Republican-only votes. John Barrasso (R-WY) suspended rules requiring two minority-party members be present, allowing Pruitt to be confirmed in an 11-0 vote.

In the case of Pruitt, Republicans complained that no other EPA head had their nomination dragged out for longer than a few days - leaving out that in 2013, Republicans on the same committee boycotted the hearing of former President Barack Obama's pick to run the agency, Gina McCarthy.

"Yesterday, the minority members of the committee chose to boycott our business meeting, because they do not support the nomination of Scott Pruitt", Barrasso said.

Pruitt submitted answers to more than 1,200 lawmaker questions after his confirmation hearing, but Democrats said numerous answers were inadequate, including those regarding the nominee's communications with outside groups during his time as AG.

Democrats' specific objections to Pruitt turn not only on his anti-regulatory bent but on their concerns that he did not adequately answer the written questions they sent him following his confirmation hearing.

The maneuver was made only one day after all 10 Democratic members of the committee announced a boycott over President Donald Trump's EPA pick.

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Republicans, Barrasso said, had never tried to stop "President Obama from setting up his government".

"He's dodged our questions, ignored our letters, and told us go to the back of the line and make open records requests to get the information we are entitled to", said Sen.

"All Democrats are invited to the committee", Barrasso added. Environmental experts are concerned with Pruitt's nomination, citing the 14 times he sued the agency while working on behalf of oil companies in Oklahoma.

"The American people are exhausted of seeing billions of dollars drained from our economy due to unnecessary EPA regulations, and I intend to run this agency in a way that fosters both responsible protection of the environment and freedom for American businesses", Pruitt said in a statement after he was picked in December.

During Pruitt's six-hour confirmation hearing before the committee January 18, Democrats cited Pruitt's campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry and his 14 lawsuits against EPA as attorney general.

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